Sweet Peas, Veggies and Herbs!

First of all, thank you, thank you for all of your wonderful suggestions yesterday about what to do with the Green Monster! I’m newly energized and I’m  working hard on pulling that area together. I was feeling quite overwhelmed before I asked for your help.  Hopefully I’ll be able to share a photo of our progress soon. It’s such a shady, private spot. I love to sit there for a minute first thing in the morning or when we take a break during the day. It’s going to be a little oasis in our oasis.

Here’s an update on how things are going out in the garden this week:

The sweet peas are almost ready!

Here’s a beautiful post about sweet peas that  AmySue at A Healthy Life for Me wrote last week

http://ahealthylifeforme.com/2012/06/05/peas-peas-everywhere/

Her recipes and photos are wonderful!

The basil and tomatoes are coming along (notice that the bunny food/poop grass is still trying to surface). I decided to try  salt marsh hay as mulch this year to retain moisture and keep weeds and wilt away. We’ll see how it goes. I’d better get cages around those tomato plants soon.

I planted  few red cabbage plants in this  extra space and we’re enjoying the lettuce. Better get it while we can because lettuce is happiest in cool weather, once it gets hot it will bolt and be gone! The zucchini has settled in nicely and I planted a treat just beyond the lettuce… zinnias to cut and enjoy in August

Lemon balm, thyme and lavender…

And here’s our first purple coneflower blossom of the season! There will be many more to come..

It’s very rainy here  but it’s supposed to clear up over the next few days. Perfect weather for growing everything!

Thanks for stopping!

Enjoy Everything today!

Michele

The Green Monster

No, It’s not Fenway Park… It’s my house. I have my very own Green Monster here in Salem  It’s what  Michael is calling this wall outside our back door that we painted a few weeks ago…

What should we hang on it or decorate with? Any thoughts or ideas are welcome! Yes I did go kind of bright with the paint color but we wanted it to be cheery and welcoming.. it’s always been a very dark space full of clutter, but it has such a nice view of the yard.  We wanted to brighten it up a little and make a nice place to sit for a few minutes.

I know that there are a few wonderful designers out there who might be reading…. share your thoughts please!  Comment away!

Early Morning Helpers

Early Sunday morning I went out to find my little guy taking care of the chickens. He’s heading over to tend to the babies, poop scraper in hand!

Here he is hard at work, but if you look closely to the left you’ll notice an escape is underway.

Uh oh! We have church soon and they can’t be left to wander safely yet.

Winnie the Wonderdog wants to help!

This photo doesn’t exactly fit in to the story but my son enhanced it himself, and it’s a cute shot, so here it is!  I think he did a great job!

Getting back to what was happening… here’s little sister to the rescue!

She’ll help round them up again!

“Where should we go? How do we get back in there?”

“I’ll save you!”

She’s a great little chicken handler!

On to the big girls… it’s a tough life for these urban chicken kids!

Enjoy Everything!

Salem 101: A Walk around Salem Common

Yesterday I spent some time walking around Salem Common, a nine acre public park right in the middle of the city. It’s been public land for hundreds of years and was originally used as a pasture  in the 1600s, with ponds and a stream running though it. It was designated as a military training ground in the 1600’s and still hosts a military muster once a year. You can read more about the Common’s history here  at http://www.salemweb.com/guide/common/

As a former resident of the neighborhood it’s always fun to take a walk and take in the sights.

 People meet here to exercise, walk, ride bikes and play.

There’s a beautiful new playground..

When our kids were small and we lived a few doors away I spent many, many hours under that tree!

 There was a different play structure but the very same view. Such happy memories!

The walking path is covered by trees so it’s shady and comfortable.

here’s the view coming around the northwest corner

The common is lined with beautiful historic mansions.

Many of them were designed by renowned architect Samuel McIntire.

He created the original version of this  wooden archway as well.

It’s said to have been made for a visit by George Washington.

The Gazebo is the true focal point…lots of fun happens here!

Everything from the reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July

to prom and wedding photos being taken!

The Salem Witch Museum is located on one corner (the two young people above both happen to work there)

The Witch Museum is a great place to gain a clear understanding of what happened during the Witchcraft Hysteria that Salem is so well known for.

The Common is quintessential New England, full of history and fun… a beautiful place to relax and unwind!

Hope you’ll visit soon! Hint, hint to all of my family and friends who are still planning their summer vacations  🙂

Have a great day! Enjoy Everything!

Michele

Chickens 101

Good Morning!

I thought that I’d share a little bit about our life with our chickens today. I sometimes take a few in to visit the first grade classes at our elementary school when their studying the life-cycle. First graders always have great questions.  So do our visitors!  Here are some of our most asked questions:

How many chickens do you have?  We currently have nine adults and six twelve week old pullets.

Where do they live?

The older girls live here in their coop:

The younger flock  lives in our chicken tractor. In a few weeks they should be about ready to join the older ladies out in the coop. This photo of the tractor was taken a few years ago.  Notice how new and shiny it is, along with the fence and the coop before siding was added.

How old do they get? Chickens often live for five to eight years but  I’ve heard of some living longer. This is one of our very first chickens. She’s named Chip, after the friend who brought her to us. She is still laying eggs and  recovered from a bad bout of “bumble foot” last year. Chip is one amazing chicken!

Do the boys lay eggs? No, they don’t. This is always very hard to explain to the first graders.

Do you have roosters? No, we tried to keep some small Banty Roosters last year but they were way too noisy for our neighborhood. Our hens are quite happy without a rooster around  🙂

Do they  poop a lot?  Yes!!

Do you have a favorite chicken? We all have our favorites. This one is mine.  I call her the little red hen. She’s a Speckled Sussex chicken and she is so cute and sweet!

Can we hold them? Sure you can, but we might need to help you.

Are they friendly? Some are friendlier than others but our chickens are raised by hand from when their one day old so most are very used to humans.  Several of them like to sit in our laps.

Do they all have names? Not really, the older ones do. I call this one Sheba because she thinks she’s the queen. She tends to wander away from the flock. We’ve had neighbors come over and ask us to come get her. I don’t know why she’s standing on one foot in this photo? I think she’s planning her escape.

Is there a pecking order? Yes, most definitely.  The social structure of the flock is very interesting to watch. This little Banty Cochin is actually kind of in charge these days. She rules the roost and she can be really mean!

How often do they lay eggs? About one every day and a half in the warmer months when there’s lots of daylight. Egg production slows way down in the winter.

What do the eggs look like?  Just like this…their all different shapes and colors. It depends on the chicken.

Do you eat them? No, we don’t eat our pets.

Is it easy to take photos of chickens?  No! Their always moving around and running away.

But we love them, their wonderful pets, the fresh eggs are great and they keep us connected with our food source and with each other~

Questions? Leave them in the comments section and I’ll try to answer them. Thanks for stopping by!

A Big Pot of Potatoes!

I tried to plant potatoes in a raised bed a few years ago with  no success at all. My memory of the failure is that we thought that raccoons might have dug them up.  We found the seed potatoes scattered around the garden. Since it’s been a few years it seems like time to try again. I’m hoping that if we plant them in a container and keep them outside the back door, we’ll have greater success. So in the middle of all the rain yesterday my youngest kids and I did some potato planting!

 I sliced the potatoes in half early in the day. The owner of our local Agway recommended this when I bought them. Everything that I read said that drying the potatoes out for a few hours would help prevent rot.

Before we started we gathered up our materials:

  • the cut potatoes
  •  a bag of organic potting soil
  • A great pot that my Mother-in-Law painted for me (I love this, it’s so cute!)
  • A trowel
  • A kid, ready to dig!

We filled the bottom of the pot with broken up clay pots and rocks to help with drainage. Ideally, I would have put a layer of screening on top of this but I couldn’t find any and I knew that my husband was busy at a conference this afternoon. So, we skipped that step. I think it will be okay.

The kids added soil to the pot.. of course they loved this!

When the pot was half full it was time to add the potatoes. We placed them in with the sprouts facing up.

We added another two inches of soil and moved them outside, then we watered them in with rainwater that had fallen throughout the day.

And now we’ll watch them grow! We planted them halfway up the pot with the idea that as the potatoes form we’ll keep mounding the soil over them so that more can grow. I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes. We’ll keep you posted!

I can just hear them growing in there! I think the cats can too!

What a Rainy Monday!

We are in the middle of a Nor’easter here this morning. For those who don’t live in New England, A Nor’easter is a storm that comes in off of the ocean from the northeast. Nor’easters often bring damage to homes, roads and of course, gardens. Salem is under a flood warning today as the tide is expected to be unusually high. Many of our roads here flood when this happens because water going out to the ocean through the storm drains backs up and has no place to go. There can also be damage to homes on the water when the ocean gets higher and closer than we’d like it to. Let’s hope and pray that everyone is okay and the beautiful homes on the coast and in town don’t sustain too much damage.

I’m a little bit of a  planner so here’s an overview of what  may happen this week at the The Salem Garden if all goes well. Of course we  know that in a household with this many people anything could happen but we’ll hope for the best!

Some of my  kids and I will be planting something together… look familiar? I’m excited about this project!

I hope to show you something else about Salem. It won’t be the Friendship because the ship is away for repairs.  She should be back very soon and we’ll be visiting then.

Things are growing in the garden! We’ll be sure to take a look.

I think we’ll be visiting our chickens too. Here’s one of our babies about eight weeks ago. Just like my human babies, they grow so quickly!

Sounds busy!  Let’s get going!  A little rain is nothing!