The Yardstead - Farm Your Yard!

Well our chickens are about 7 months old now and we are currently getting five eggs a day (one per hen).  Beautiful, tasty, brown eggs.  I'll post a picture of a carton full shortly.  The portable 'Chicken Tractor' coop is working well for the birds.  They're happy as long as we move them once a day, onto a fresh patch of grass.  There are a couple of issues with the chicken tractor though. I forgot that chickens love to take 'dirt baths'.  When the portable coop is over a nice patch of grass with no exposed dsand or dirt, the chickens will scratch a hole down to the dirt to lay in.  I ended up with little football sized holes all over the back yard.  Also I'm kind of tired of moving the chicken tractor every day.  Anyway, I'm halfway done with an 8ft x 16ft coop that will be there permanent home.  I'll use the little portable coop to introduce new hens into the flock.  We have three new Araucana chicks (about 3 weeks old) who will move into the portable coop in about 2 weeks.  More pictures coming soon.

We have chickens at the new Yardstead!!  We have 4 Golden Comet hens.  I went home to visit my dad and he insisted a take a few chickens from his new flock of baby chicks.  The baby chicks were about  2 weeks old at the time.  I brought four baby chicks home with me without telling Mary, and without any supplies.  I wasn't sure how she would react but she was delighted.  After a quick trip to a farm supply, and about $20 later, we had a waterer, a feeder, and some chick starter feed.  We kept them in a box for a few days, while I built them a small portable chicken coop.  I have several pictures of the chickens and the preperations for the care of the chickens and the chicken coop, which is based on the "Chicken Tractor" principle and is portable.  Check back soon or click the little bird and Follow us on Twitter for live updates.

We have some nice Sugar Baby watermelons coming along in one of our garden beds.  These are fairly small melons with a very sweet flavor.  We have three plants which have completely filled in the 4 x 8 ft bed with vines.  Each plant typically has 3 or melons growing at a time.  These watermelons are a little smaller than a soccer bal when mature.  I have one in the fridge now, for slicing later!!

Well it's been quite a while since I posted anything!  But now I'm back and ready to share my latest vegetable gardening experience with you.  This spring I started a 4ft x 8ft raised bed, which I filled with assorted pepper plants.  I have a lot of pictures from buidling the beds up to current pictures like the one above , with a daily harvest from the pepper patch.  Currently in this 4ft x 8ft garden bed, I have one tabasco plant, three habanero plants, three jalapeno plants, one poblano plant, three banana pepper plants, three green bell peppers and one orange bell pepper plant.  All of them are grwoing well and producing plenty of chillis.  Over the next several days I hope to go back through setting up the beds, planting, and growing the peppers.  I have a lot of pictures throughout the whole process.  I will also provide some delicious recipes, such as for this Habanero Jelly I am eating at the moment wioth cream cheese and crackers.  Stay tuned!! 

After about 3 weeks of growth, the squash in our spring garden, started getting a powdery mildew infection.  In the picture above, there is a health young squash on the left.  The young squash plant on the right is starting to develop Powdery Mildew.  The first signs I usually see, are the small white spots on the leaves (visible on the squash to the right).  You can also see the affected leaves turning yellow around the edges.  If this infected squash were left untreated, the leaves would all yellow and the plant would die in around 3 weeks or so.  
Here is Jacksonville Beach, the powdery mildew has been particulary bad, and a constant problem, on all our cucurbits.  I was able to save several of our squash plants, but a few withered and died.  I use a solution of milk and water to treat the Powdery Mildew.  I mix a quarter cup of milk in about half a liter of water, and apply with a spray bottle.  I try to coat the leaves on both sides with the milk solution.  It works pretty well.  I usually takes about 3 or 4 days of spraying everyday to get rid of the powdery mildew if you catch it early enough.  I have found that if you start treating the plants with milk after some of the leaves are yellowed and brown, it may be too late.  I also try to remove any infected leaves from the plants, to try and prevent spreading.  I'll post another article soon with more details on powdery mildew treatments.

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