Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Invasive at Last!

Since the beginning of the garden, there has been mint. It would not survive the winter and often would not live through the scorching Arizona summer. I kept replanting each spring. So many articles I read about this herb stated that it was invasive, but I never had that happen with mine. Until now.

For those that followed the prior post about this experimental raised bed, it works. Here is the one downside so far. Mint can sneak through the slats. For me, this is a happy moment. This mint survived the winter, took over this whole raised bed, and is reaching past that to invade elsewhere.

Go mint, go!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Greenhouse and Critter Update

Some plants have moved out into the garden. Some are still waiting, tapping their roots and rolling their buds at me when I don't choose them to move out. Most are ready to go. Some are still too small and delicate.

Here are some pictures of what's happening in there.

These little sticks have been fascinating to watch. They seem to grow right before my eyes. They came from Frank Gomez who runs http://www.hybridpoplars.com/ and have, so far, lived up to the claims about them.

This tray contains starts of marigold, African daisy (none have germinated), green beans, and corn. I like these Jiffy peat pellet greenhouse trays as I tend to have success with germination. I don't like to plant a bunch of seeds and have to thin out plants. The pellets can be reused if a seed didn't germinate in them.

Last year I sowed zucchini seeds directly in the plots. Some grew, some didn't. I wanted to try starts this year to be sure that all areas were evenly covered. Here you can see half success on germination.

The most difficult to germinate are the bell peppers. I'm really not sure why. They are new seeds and out of 72 it looks like about 12 have started. Very dissappointing.

For those that check this blog for animal updates, the critters are doing fine. I'm still milking my Alpine and my Nigerain goat, although I'm drying off the Nigerian. I don't think the Alpine will dry up easily as she has not slowed at all in her production. She's a good girl and loves to be milked. Now that she is the biggest goat in the pen, she has claimed the matriarch position. She is not good with human children, so it would have been difficult to sell her to a family who wanted a milker. Most people wanted to eat her when they saw her, which to me, seemed a huge waste for such a prolific milker.

My pregnant cow is developing a lovely rounded bag. I am a little frightened since her mother, who only had three good teats, was a prolific milker. Four good teats is well...gonna mean more milk. Since her calf will be half mini, I wonder how much milk it will take. Jerseys have been bred to make more milk than a calf needs and my cow will need milking twice a day. She's a feisty girl and always has been. But today, she let me rub her all over and even touch her udder. She will need milk training and that will likely start soon. The cow corral was moved some time ago and it's not in the best location relevant to the cow milking area. My cows are not halter trained and not good at taking directions unless they are very hungry and feed is in my hand. Even then, I do not completely trust my Jersey. She has horns and she knows how to use them on anyone who isn't doing what she wants. It's never a good idea to piss off an animal that can squash you.

The alpacas are fine as well. Quiet, peaceful, not a bother. They need a nail trim soon which will require a child to hold the halter while I wrestle with making the alpaca realize I'm not going to hurt them. My goal is to get their fleeces from last year spun before I sheer them this year. It may or may not happen. Some fleeces are dirtier than others. They were sheared in May last year before they came to us. I had contemplated hand shearing but I'm not that good at it and the fiber is so freakin' awesome that I would hate to lose length by doing a bad job. I will likely have the same shearer come out to get things done as she was very efficient. My one alpaca with the face wound has cleared up for the present. He wears a fly mask to protect him from the nasty buggers which as yet, have not been too bad. I do think he'll be needing his front teeth trimmed this coming year as they are quite bucky, more so than any of the others. That is another thing I will need help with.