It's been about 2 weeks since I've posted anything. That doesn't mean that nothing's been happening, it just means I've been lazy. That, and my camera is acting unreliably, so I take all these pictures, can't get any of them to upload, and get annoyed.
The ladies are getting huge! They've been out in their coop for 2 weeks now, and are only just learning to put themselves to bed at sundown. This feels like an enormous victory, since I won't have to pick them up and chuck them inside so often. They've also become escape artists! The other morning, I went inside for a few minutes while they were in their pen. When I came back out, two of them were happily pecking... on the other side of the chicken wire! I can't figure out how they got there. It's pretty high for them to have flown over, and I couldn't find a spot for them to squeeze under. Mystery. Because of the great escape, we need to up the ante on chicken security. This afternoon, we're planning to build a new pen. One with a roof, and with a person-sized door. We can let the babies into this new pen in the morning so they have more time to roam, and then force them into the really predator proof run and coop at night. I think they'll be happier for this. The portable pen can go into retirement until fall when we need to sequester the ladies in the garden beds so they can eat all the bug larvae.
Things are getting enormous! The snap peas, which you aren't supposed to have to trellis, are almost collapsing under their own weight. I'm going to try to give them something new to climb up this week. They already buried the little metal stake I put in a month ago. The corn and beans are about a foot tall, and my Early Girl tomatoes have a ton of green fruit on them and the limbs of the plant come up past my waist!
Strangely, we have very few pests in the garden beds, but a TON of pests in the plants in pots on the patio. The cherry tomato has (had) aphids, but I sprayed it with Neem last week. For those who don't know, Neem is a plant oil that kills aphids, larvae, and adult bugs. It's ok for organic gardening, but should be used sparingly, since it also harms beneficial insects. The butterflies are laying their eggs in the center of the cauliflower and collard plants, so hand-picking the eggs doesn't work. Every morning there are new caterpillar attacks. Since the Neem, though, I don't see any new worms. It's just a matter of whether or not the plants will bounce back. I've said it before: I am NOT planting cauliflower next year. They take up too much room, take too long to grown, and attract far too many pests to the party.
We are DONE with the floor sanding, which is good, because my knees are pretty seriously bruised from the job. Still haven't received the floor stain, so now it's a game of trying not to ruin the bare floors when we walk on them. I expect the stain to arrive by this Friday at the latest. In the meantime, we'll work on staining the trim for the living and dining rooms, and building a secure pen for the babies. The eco-friendly paint did arrive, so the dining room wall is a lovely yellow, and the hallway is green. Very green. It's a bit Irish Pride Parade, if you ask me. However, I'm hoping to temper the color with a lot of hanging greenery.
The problem with green paint is that it's just one color. Greens in nature are so much more dynamic. I pick something I think looks like grass, but there's no variation and I'm always a little disappointed. I don't think I'm going to post any pictures of the house until the big reveal when the living room and dining room are all done.
On a hot tip from my parents, we learned you could grow a pineapple tree from the top of a pineapple. The trees have to come inside in winter, but how cool is that? We bought pineapples (even though they were from far away) in the hope that we could have our own pineapples a few years from now! You can also grow trees directly from the seeds of stone fruit like peaches or apricots. I'm waiting to find the fruit varieties that thrive in PA at the market later this summer, and then I'll sprout them as well.
We got what I think is the bumper crop of blueberries for the season: about a pint. I tried to eat them quickly, but we'll need to freeze them. Could be fun in blueberry pancakes later in the year! Blueberry jam of syrup doesn't seem as exciting.
The strawberry bourbon vanilla jam looks glorious! I only have two jars, so one for giving, one for eating. Seeing the shelf fill up a bit with new goodies for the coming year makes me feel secure in some arcane way. It also signals that I can use up the last of last year's frozen bounty. I still have a one gallon bag of whole tomatoes, and one gallon of crushed. Pasta sauce and chili will be happening this week. We've been eating horribly since friends were in town (always happens) so it will be nice to get back on track. No pizza! No pierogies! No pitchers of beer!