garden update: the strong, the weak and the chickens

After my last post where I talked about feeling all green thumb confident, I must now admit that it isn’t all magic and perfect here in my Missoula plot. There have been some real disappointments this year. There always are…last year it was my squash with the spider mites. This year, while I have no pests (knock on wood), I have some seriously crummy germination.

Chioggia Beet. Damn it. I was so excited about these heirloom candy cane swirled dudes. I planted a 1gm packet which was enough for about 12 feet before thinning. I estimate about a 40% germination rate. Seeds of Change has this on the back of the packet: “These seeds…meet or exceed Federal germination requirements. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.” So, I’ll follow up and see what happens. Thankfully, the Detroit Dark Red and the Bull’s Blood were their usual trustworthy selves and I was able to carefully transplant when thinning to fill in the gaps for the lame Chioggia.

Detroit Dark Red beets

Purple Haze hybrid Carrot. This is a tragedy because garden carrots are one of my faves and I planted 30 feet of carrots this year. It is a big chunk of my plot. I have ten, three-foot rows and there are like two to four measly seedlings per row. I have 29 carrots en masse. Yes, I can count them. At least they’ll be gorgeous with all that room for root growth. I am in desperate search for a carrot that can germinate in this warm weather. Anyone know?

Purple Haze Carrot

Golden Purslane. I have never grown this before and was psyched for the succulent wannabe green. Also rich in vitamin C and great raw or cooked…well, of a 230mg packet, I have about 12 plants. This *may* be my fault as I was annoyed with little seeds from having just sewed a million rows of carrots so I cast the seeds and wasn’t too careful about covering them. To fill in the painful, bare spots, I bought some Black Bell Eggplants and tucked them quaintly into little purslane niches. And it looks purposeful. See, gardening is all about creative solutions.

Golden Purslane

Here is my garden today:

The screened back crops (arugula, spinach, radish and mesclun) have already come and gone.

And, the chickens. Still no eggs. But they are happy birds noshing on radish and pea greens, apples and bolted spinach. They are a kick to watch; I set up a bench in front of the run and bug, Andy and I had coffee with the girls this morning. Bossy P runs back and forth like a kid on Christmas morning waiting for the parents to wake up. She is not the most brilliant chicken, but entertaining and, well, bossy. Clementine remains sweet and shy. Her white tail feathers emerging. Ida is Andy’s favorite. He says he like the way Bossy P looks but she is a pain in the ass. Ida is social and curious.


8 Responses to garden update: the strong, the weak and the chickens

  1. Kelle says:

    Oh, I would love to see your garden…sit and have coffee and talk about babies right outside the garden. Wish we had farms down here. Photographer’s dream to get pics of Lainey running with chickens with a big red barn in back. But, alas…no barns, no farms.

  2. Patia says:

    Are the descriptions in order of the pics — Bossy P, Clementine and Ida?

    Remind me their breeds again?

    Well, the one on the left is a Rhode Island Red, I know that much.

  3. Jamsterson says:

    Okay garden gals, anyone know what this is?

    Are those white spots normal?

  4. Eric says:

    Thanks for a great blog. I’ve lurked for quite sometime. I find the whole blogging relationships to be quite strange, but good. My wife and I have started our Ohio gardening / backyard farming blog

    We have thought of getting chickens and watching yours grow, I think we will go for it.

    I’m hoping next year to build a nifty garden map like you have also.

    You have a beautiful daughter!

    Thanks again.

    Eric and Annabel

  5. Kelle! Next time you are in Missoula, feel free to use my chickens as a photographic subject!

    Patia: In order, Clementine, Bossy and Ida. The first is actually a golden sex link, ameraucana and Ida is the RIR.

    John: Kinda looks like water spots so watch out for angular leaf spot described as: “Leaf spots that begin as water-soaked, then turn gray, die and drop out leaving foliage with a shot-hole appearance.” More here:

    Eric: Thanks! I will go and check out yer blog…And, get chickens! so fun.

  6. Melinda says:

    Let’s see… I grew all sorts of different kinds of carrots and just found them to be finicky about changes in temp more than anything. I covered mine with a burlap laid over hoops like a frost cloth tunnel. That seemed to keep them cool in the summer until they established themselves. You have to religiously water them with a mister until they germinate – I did it at least 2x day. And I guess the ones that came up best in the heat were the yellow and white ones. Don’t know why! They take longest to get big, though.

    And I’m surprised the chioggia beets didn’t do well. Ours did really well last year. Though they also didn’t like heat nearly as well as the yellow mangel ones we planted. They also didn’t get to be the size of a watermelon (no kidding) like the yellow ones.

  7. Leslie says:

    Oi…I feel the dissapointment right along with ya sister…and I’m a professional! I’ve had some stinky germination myself this year. Frustrating. I left for vacation..when I left, I had some of the most beautiful tomato plants you’d ever seen. Came back to plants devastated by spider mites…the result of malfunctioning irrigation. Here Best layed plans… During summer here in Texas, you pretty much can’t miss one day of watering on tomatoes, or the mites move in. Your chickens..and eggs..look fantastic!!

  8. Elle says:

    Oh, how I hear you – it nearly killed me when hail took out the hot peppers, tomatoes and eggplants I’d started from seeds! The garden is recovering slowly from an awkward start this year…

    What do you do with beets? I’ve just gotten some from our CSA and I’ve never eaten one before – any good eats you can help me with?