Thursday, May 6, 2010

The new garden so far and chicken gone bald.....

Not a whole lot going on in the gardens to date, but, I thought I'd give y'all a peak at what's popping so far. This weekend is a big planting weekend for me. It's still a little before our frost date of May 15th here, but, Mother's Day weekend has been when most of my warm season veg gets put in.
Above are my peas just starting to poke their heads through the earth to reach for the trellis. On the right hand side I will plant cucumbers for pickling. While both of these grow, I will continue to sow lettuce underneath them. The lettuce will receive morning sun for the most part and then will be shaded by the growing vines in the hot afternoon sun. I'm hoping this will allow me to extend my lettuce season, especially since it's the largest amount of a vegetable that we eat.

Here I have some transplanted Flashy Troutback and Five Star mix lettuce. They will be fully ready to harvest in another couple of weeks. In the meantime, I am harvesting some lettuce still in the peat pots I started indoors in my lettuce table experiment.

Bloomsdale spinach transplants. They are struggling, but, still holding their own. I've never had great success with spinach which is a crying shame because it's also a big favorite here in our household.

The onions and shallots are doing just grand. Here I've planted Stuttgarter yellow, Red Baron red (duh!), and a french shallot whose name I can't recall at the moment.
I've also planted Bandit leeks which are limping along, turnips, beets, cabbage, broccoli, two new varieties of strawberries, and my utmost favorite carrots in the world - Nantes. They are all doing just fine. I just need to get straw down in the beds to help mulch all of it.

Now, in the words of the folks at Monty Python - for something completely different.
Two of my white rocks are getting quite bald on the tops of their heads near the combs. I've noticed a lot of fighting between the hens lately, but, I'm not quite sure why. I know the hens constantly need to remind each other of the "pecking" order, but, these girls are just over a year old and I'd figured they would have established this by now with the occasional quarrel.
I did a little online research and it seems that a vitamin deficiency could be the cause as well as boredom. I've also seen that crowded conditions could cause extreme picking on one another.
I have to rule out crowding, because the hens have plenty of room, plus, I do get them out in the yard to free range as much as possible.
So, this keeps bringing me back to the first two possibilities - vitamin deficiency and/or boredom.
Here's were I would like some help from the more experienced chicken crowd - that is, if you would like to pitch in and give some!
How in the world can you tell if a chicken is lacking a certain vitamin? The feed I'm giving them is supposedly balanced, plus they get all the good table scraps, grass, bugs, and whatever they can scratch up to eat. I'm also mixing in ground oyster shell to help with calcium levels.
So, what do y'all think? Vitamins or boredom? I'd love to figure this out so they stop trying to cannibalize each other.. I'm saving that for me in a couple of years :-)


  1. I'm so impressed with your vege garden. You must be completely self-sufficient which is amazing and very healthy too. Well done!
    Afraid I can't help with the chooks. But tell me how do you occupy a bored chicken? Leave a couple of beachballs out for them to play with? Can't wait to hear the suggestions !!

  2. That's a good idea, shading lettuce with peas and cucumbers. You have a lot planted!
    Are the poles for vine support just resting on the ground? Will the vines hold them stable in bad weather? Or do you sink them in, any?

    I hope someone can help you with your chickens.
    Good luck!

  3. I'm not a chicken expert either, but do wonder how do you stave off boredom for a chicken? Get them a rooster?

    Your garden is looking good! I'm worried for you getting stuff in early- you know what happened to me! I'm learning that if you're going to get it in early, be prepared to cover it up or lose it. Jury's still out on my cukes and peppers....

  4. What is the feed you are giving the chickens?
    My chicken husband says it is also not something you need to worry about- -he says they could be putting more energy into the eggs also as another option.

  5. Your garden look great. Several months ago I started buying a Flock Block. It has supplements and stuff like oyster shell in it and my chickens jusst love it. I don't know if this would help yours or not.

  6. Your new beds look REALLY good! I wish I had more land. I would kill for 3 1/2 acres.

    I saw baby chicks at the feed store the other day and was really tempted to take some home with me. Maybe one day I can persuade my better half to want them as much as I do.

  7. Helen - thanks for the kind words about the new veggie garden. It's slowly getting there.
    No one came up with suggestions for a bored chicken, but, I did read that you can tie a cabbage and suspend it and it will give them hours of something new to do. Haven't tried it yet, but, I may just give it a whirl!

    Linda - the trellis is hammered down through the soil and should be stable in wind with vines growing on it. I guess I'll find out if it's not!

    Paula - no go on a rooster. Too noisy and I don't need complaints. ugh..
    FYI - I waited to plant my warm season veg since we had frost warnings up to last week. The plan this Sunday is to get the rest of everything in the ground.

    Annette - Layena. Maybe it is because of increased egg production. I never thought of that. I guess it's a wait and see situation.

    Becky - thanks for the suggestion of Flock Block. I've never heard of it. I'll definitely give it a go!

    Thomas - I strive to have my beds look half as good as yours! You rock in the garden!
    Persuade the other half. They are sooo easy and the rewards (eggs and entertainment) is so great.
    I wish I had 1 1/2 more acres then I could be zoned agricultural instead of residential and I could do so much more with the property. I guess we gardeners always want more!

    As always, thanks for the kind words everyone!