Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Pets and Gardens, Gardens and Pets

No time for blogging. Life's all about gardens and pets now. And, oh yeah, my job.

It's hard to appreciate this chicken ritual in a still photo. It's the avian version of dry cleaning. I hadn't given the chicks any dust for a few days. When I finally took time to do it, they plunged in, even overcoming any diversity inhibitions they may have had. The idea is to throw yourself on your side or even on your back and use your wings to flick as much dust as possible into your spread feathers.

On this occasion they kept it up for fifteen or twenty minutes. Finally satisfied that they've absorbed as much dust as possible and that the dust has had a chance to absorb as much oil as possible from their feathers, they get up and start shaking the dust out of their feathers. Eventually they settle down and spend the rest of the day poking the oil gland at the base of their tail and laboriously spreading fresh oil along each and every feather.

I'm a little behind in the garden - well, really I'm a lot behind. And, of course, everything's happening at once - or should be. I planted the tomato seedlings yesterday. In years past we've had frosts in June. But this year, I'm optimistic. There are 37 plants - 18 or 19 on each side of this 24' fence. That's pretty close spacing, but the soil in these raised beds has been improved over the past fifteen years. It's kind of like gardening in giant flower pots.

Almost all of these varieties are new to me this year. We stuck with Sun Gold and Snow White cherry tomatoes 'cause we loved them last year and added Black Cherry and Sugar Snack red cherry tomatoes for what promises to be an extremely colorful and flavorful salad.

I'm focusing more strongly on paste tomatoes this year since I had such fun making tomato sauce last year. After hours of poring over the catalogs I chose Opalka 'cause it's all about flavor, flavor, flavor. For mid-season beefsteak tomatoes, Tomato Growers offered a free sample of Marianna's Peace. I like the concept and the catalog says they're delicious and productive. Over the years I've lost interest in early tomatoes 'cause they don't have much flavor. But this year Jung Seeds offered a free sample of Wayahead - 63 days to maturity and "true tomato flavor." Those red saucers around the first three plants in the photo are supposed to do wonders for tomato growth. Three of the Wayaheads are planted in them. We'll see.

The onion transplants are doing great. Check here to see their names and how they looked at the beginning of the month.


Maggy said...

The chickens integrated!

leendaluu said...

Such organization in your garden! So those red thingies...Do they have microscopic water pores in them? Where did you get them?

leendaluu said...

Mary Ann,

Thank you. I really appreciate your concerns, it means a lot to me.

Kay Dennison said...

Wow! You are ambitious! And the photos are great! Can I borrow a cup of energy?

Gentle Palm's gardener, Portia said...

Wonderful garden! Unfortunately, my chickens choose my garden for their dust bath location. And they even make holes in the lawn to get to the dirt...... Hard to be made at chickens, though, isn't it? They seem to have life figured out.

leendaluu said...

Cats, have life figured out because the answer to no one but themselves ;-)

Darlene said...

Hey, thanks for giving us a look into life on your turf. Thoroughly enjoyed the visit! And so interesting about the chickens' ritual.


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