Square Foot Onions, and a Hint of Rhubarb

Recently these beautiful onions that my friend Betsey has stored in her basement inspired me to get serious about planting my own.

WP_000521Please pardon the quality of this photo which I took with my very unsophisticated non I-phone. I just wanted you to get the idea. Aren’t they amazing? This was in January no less!

I bought a bag of onion sets and after doing some research I decided to maximize my space and plant them using the square foot method.

I haven’t intentionally square foot gardened before but I thought that onions might be a good crop to try with. The concept behind square foot gardening is to grow as much as is feasible in one square foot of space using optimum soil and raised beds. It takes some planning to be sure that plants have enough space for root development and air circulation.  The rule of thumb seems to be that large plants need one square, while smaller plants can be planted more densely. The recommended square foot spacing for red onions is nine per square foot, so nine it is!

IMG_5215I started with my package of onion sets and my tape measure.

IMG_5214Next I loosened the soil (which had been thoroughly turned over this past weekend and well composted last fall) and using my tape measure, I very unscientifically, and quickly, and without painstaking accuracy, because that’s how I do things, divided the end two feet of my bed into eight one foot squares. I used my trowel to make lines in the soil.

IMG_5220Then I placed each bulb in to the soil, three inches apart in a grid so the bulb was just below the soil with the top pointing up. The top of the bulb is the pointy part that you see here, while the bottom where the roots develop, is flatter and usually has a slightly rough texture.

IMG_5219Some are sprouted already. I think that’s fine.

IMG_5223Here’s my finished grid. My research tells me to make sure that they don’t dry out too much but that they’ll resume growing again if they do. I’ll keep you posted!

IMG_5225In other news; the rhubarb is peeking through! I wish I liked it more. I’ll cook and bake it for Michael and I love to give it away. It looks so pretty in the garden when it gets big. Rhubarb has so much going for it, I think it’s just the tartness or texture that I personally struggle with.

Anyway, grab a bag of onion sets at your local garden center and plant them in your well fertilized eight square feet of space and let me know how it goes!

Enjoy everything!



Out In the Tractor!


Today is the first day that it’s been warm enough for a little jaunt to the yard. I wish I’d had my camera ready when we put the babies into the tractor. They were so cute, running and flapping and scratching. Usually by this age the chicks are very familiar with the outdoors but this little flock hasn’t experienced that since it’s been so cold.

IMG_5208Here’s our chicken tractor. We use it for lots of things… it’s a nursery, hospital/icu, transition place and even a space for a bunny to enjoy sometimes. Chicken tractors come in handy if your a chicken owner.

IMG_5206Looking in, it’s built as an a-frame with a little house at one end. When the chicks are too big for their basement cage they transition into this full time until their big enough to be integrated into the larger, older flock. Today it’s just a temporary play space for a few hours. Their still living in a cozy metal cage in the basement.

IMG_5195As you can see the tractor opens up a whole new world.

IMG_5192Everyone is growing so quickly. Michael was commenting earlier about how our dark cochin seems to be dominant. This is kind of a roosterish look… let’s hope she’s not a he.

IMG_5184The feathers are coming in so quickly…

IMG_5181Winnie stands guard. Stay away coyotes and raccoons!

IMG_5180This little chicken is growing the fastest of all.

She’s too much!

Enjoy everything!



What’s Happening in the Garden– April 7, 2014

What’s happening? Well there’s a little bit of spring out there. It may not be as much as we’re used to at this point in April, but it’s coming along.


Yesterday I dug  up the very end of a bed and planted some lettuce in anticipation of the soaking rain that we were expecting today, The rain is here, so grow lettuce grow!


Chives are peeking through…


The rosemary didn’t make it but I kind of expected that. For this plant to winter over in the kind of winter that we had this year was a huge stretch. I did manage to maintain a plant in the house and I consider that a huge victory!


There’s a little bit of yarrow peeking through.


The girls say hi!


This guy is still perched on his rock but I think his front legs were amputated. Go figure?

IMG_5149 The pond is home to the canoe again.

IMG_4540Very different from the skating days of a few weeks ago. It’s only a foot deep and it’s been very cold so the kids skated up to the last possible second.

IMG_5158Mr and Mrs Mallard are back!

IMG_5161I love this old bench. It was given to Michael by Lucy Set, one of our old neighbors on Forrester Street. 

IMG_5176 Winnie was thrilled to be sitting in his spot while I planted yesterday. I think it’s time for a haircut.

IMG_5177 It’s good to see the markers coming back!

IMG_5137 And theres a little bit of tomato seedling started in the basement. More to come on them soon I hope! It looks like it’s time to get out my manicure scissors to thin them back a bit. I’ll cut off one of the two plants in the cell to give the remaining plant the best possible chance. I’m focusing a lot on seed starting at work this year and carrying everything I learn home. I love that the garden lessons that I learn for my job are so helpful to us here. You can read about our seed starting adventures at Bass River here. We’ve been having fun!

How’s your garden growing? Tell me about it!

Enjoy everything!


Just a Simple Crocus

I snuck out for a few minutes this morning to take photos of one of my three, yes three, crocus that are blooming.



I think that this might be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Spring is really, truly here!

I’m sorry I haven’t been around. I was on such a wonderful chicken posting roll and then the reality of life with a large family completely took over. I’ll be back in action very soon.

Love, Michele (that blogger you know who’s getting ready for oldest daughter’s prom, planting seeds, planning several gardens, caring for chickens, pets and people, serving on various community committees and working part time).

Gangly chicks

I can’t believe they’ve grown this much! Where did the time go? That cute, fluffy stage is winding down fast.  At three weeks old the chicks are looking pretty gangly. This early adolescent age is cute in it’s own way. It’s fun to see the feathers coming and get a sense of how they’ll look as adults.


Their still in their brooder with towels and a light to stay warm. It’s kind of chilly in our playroom.


Michael took the cardboard box out to give them more space and added a log.

We’ll put a nice perch in soon too.

IMG_5020Golden-laced wyandotte…

IMG_5021Buff Orpington…

IMG_5022Silver-laced wyandotte…

IMG_5025The back of the golden-laced again, this girl is going to be beautiful.

IMG_5027Our dark cochin..


The other buff orpington; we need more than one to maintain good balance and we’ll have three when these two chicks grow up


Here’s our little cuckoo maran. I’ve been trying to give her extra socialization training because this breed is known to be pretty unfriendly. Doesn’t she look thrilled to see me?


Best friends for life!

That’s how we raise them here~

Enjoy everything!







I Promised…

and there they are!



In part sun, part shade, and not even open yet. We’re still waiting for crocus and all of the other bulbs and most anything that’s green, but this is a start! The ducks made a brief appearance on the pond yesterday but their gone today. I’m sure their hiding because it’s too cold to swim through the skim of ice on top of the water.We’ll see them again in a few days. It’s supposed to snow tomorrow night into Wednesday, then warm up again at the end of the week.

This is spring in New England. We wait and wait and wait!

More chickens coming!

Love, Michele

The Lovely, Motherly Cochin

If your deciding on breeds of chicken to raise, another fun possibility is the cochin. Cochins originated in China in the 1800s and are now commonly found here in the United States. Their most unique features are their furry feet and legs and their round, fluffy shape. They are just beautiful girls!


The hen on the left is a buff cochin and the one in the middle is a white cochin.  While their not widely considered to be good layers we find that ours lay medium sized eggs regularly.


Here’s one of our current babies who will grow up to be a dark cochin. We like lots of varied colors in our flock so we’re looking forward to adding her in with the buffs, whites and banty cochin!IMG_4589

Our little white hen is a banty cochin. Banties are small chickens who usually look just like their standard (regular) sized counterparts but in a mini version. She probably weighs about two pounds, compared to the six to eight pound weights of the standards.


She may be smaller than her sisters but she is mighty! She’s also quite a mother-to-be wannabe. She gets broody to the point that we have to take her off the nest at times. Last summer we went through a period when she pulled all of the feathers off of her belly so that she could keep the eggs warmer. They grew back over time but we had to regularly move her out to the run to break the pattern. Broodiness (a huge desire to sit on eggs to hatch them) is a common cochin characteristic and while it’s a little messy and inconvenient, it isn’t a problem as long as the chicken eats and drinks regularly.


You just can’t go wrong with a few beautiful cochin in your flock!

We love them and you will too!

Happy Saturday!

Love, Michele