Saturday, June 14, 2014

Attack ! An encounter with the worlds deadliest chicken !

Steady yourself dear reader... what you are about to witness is largely boring. It's not very interesting at all. Seriously, at one point Meghan looks at a chickens butt. However, toward the end, right before I am laughing hysterically behind the camera... Meghan gets pecked in the eye by a chicken.

Sleep with one eye open... because you can't open the other one because a chicken pecked it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Raised Beds ( take 2 )

Some of you may remember our raised beds from last year. We used discarded pallets, broke them down to individual slats and rebuilt them into raised beds. Overall they worked wonderfully , but the major flaw was that they we a lot of work. It took us nearly two weeks ( on days off and after work ) to assemble 5 beds. This years effort took only about 2 hours to assemble and yielded over 80 square feet of growing area. 

As always we start with pallets.
12 in all, all cut in half.

Using wood screws we begin to piece them together.

It's a surprisingly fast process.

We lined the bottom with tree trimmings that 
would have been heading for the compost otherwise.

add 4 bales of straw 

Break up and spread the straw

Add a layer of compost

Spread to near the edges and make sure it is 6-8 inches deep.

Water thoroughly

Plan and Plant.

The medium of straw and compost has maintained an ideal temperature for growing. Our sprouts are coming up strong and fast. Some seeds ahead of their expected germination. As always we let you know how it progresses. 

Now enjoy this silly video of us ( and the dog helping ) build these beds. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

We are back !

After far too long of a hiatus The Littlest Farm is back in action ! We have moved to a new home and have new additions to our family and are looking forward to expanding and sharing our favorite activities with everyone again.

To begin I would like to introduce our new best friend...

Dusty !!!

He is a six month old German Boxer and Alaskan Husky Mix ( best guess ) also maybe a little Dingo a splash of Jack Rabbit and just a tiny bit Anteater... but who knows. 

There is now also chickens coming home to roost !

Along with the chickens come exciting projects like building a coop out of pallets a chicken tractor out of PVC and general cuteness.

We have really missed creating and sharing our activities but now with our beautiful new home, faithful companion Dusty, 3 ( not as faithful ) cats and flock of 6 chicks things are bound to interesting. 

Stay tuned ! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

After the rain

An unseasonable late June rain has just broken here in the East Bay of California... The plants were rejoicing...

We see much growth happening in the coming days.

Click on photos for high res :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pallet Table (a.k.a. palatable)

I apologize for the poor pun / word play of the table. I assure you that this is a serious post about making a table from a pallet and will involve no shenanigans or squirrels drinking beer.

In the beginning there was a pallet & no where to sit. 

Nowhere to enjoy a meal.

Nowhere to pry the fruit of its pit.

Only bad poems written with zeal. 

This table was built in the background over a couple of months, you may have (literately) noticed in the background in photos since we began. 

We started with a pallet, a pry bar and an idea. This is our idea of re-purposing.  

It turned out one 4x4 wouldn't hold up the table.

We added 3 more

The last two pictures have our benches in the background :) ...

We built them so the squirrel had somewhere to drink his beer

A wee bit of paint...

Some found foam and purchased vinyl 

Come on over... let's have a BBQ

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Test your soil.

Is your soil alkaline or acidic? If you aren't sure here is a cool ( 9th grade earth science kind of cool ), cost effective and easy way to find out.  

Science Rules

You will need two containers approximately one cup in size
1/2 cup of vinegar
1/2 cup of baking soda
A couple handfuls of your soil. 

Go out in the garden and get yourself a nice fistful of dirt and split in into your two containers. 

In the first container mix in 1/2 cup of white vinegar. In the second container mix 1/2 cup of water ( mix ) and then 1/2 cup of baking soda. 

Product Placement ( I'm waiting for my check )

If container #1 begins to bubble and fizz it is alkaline. 

If you have no reaction turn your observation to container #2. Is it bubbling ? Well, you have acidic soil. 

I observed equally mild reactions placing our soil somewhere in the middle. A nice place to be since we can tilt the soil to the needs of a certain plant. Roses want some acidity... that's easy... just add some coffee grounds and the soil is suited in a couple days. 

Enough about my dirt let's get back to you. If your soil turned out to be acidic you can amend it with  wood ash or lime. If it was alkaline add sulfur or pine needles. 

Yup, you just used science. Congratulations.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Learning about the Tomatillo

Let's learn about the beautiful & tasty tomatillo 
It won't be this sciencey but might include Latin 
(you've been warned)

Let's start with the some fun alternate names for the tomatillo: "Husk Tomato", "Jamberry", "Husk Cherry", "Mexican Tomato".

The tomatillo is native to Central America and was domesticated around 800 B.C. 
     ( see how it went from fun to facts there... it's going to be a wild ride )

There are two main types of tomatillo ( here comes the Latin )
   Physalis ixocarpa : This is the tomatillo you most often see at the market. It's fruit is green and around 2 inches across, it's flavor is tart and it ripens to a pale shade of yellow ( much like our dining room if you have ever been over for dinner )

   Physalis philidelphica : The lesser known of the tomatillo family ( maintaining it's amateur status ) is a slightly sweeter version of the tomatillo we all know and love except it is also purple and grows to a marble size.

The tomatillo is part of the nightshade family ( Solanaceae ) meaning it is related to the tomato, the potato and the eggplant. Not only are the family reunions weird but they are delicious.

When given plenty of sun and well drained and very rich soil they will produce a very high yield. 

Speaking of harvest... transplants will be ready to harvest around 70 - 100 days. You will know to pick when their husks ( or vascular tissue ) begin to split off of the fruit.

not entirely accurate view of splitting tomatillo
more of a stripping tomatillo

The reason I love that I am growing tomatillos you ask ? Well, It is because they are easy to grow. If grown in a pot and given enough drainage, they are very hard to kill. 

Grow a tomatillo this year and share your favorite recipe with us