Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Last of My 2013 Gardening Notes

This post covers crops grown for the chickens and a couple of crop fizzles.

First the flops.

Corn - I planted a LOT of our Painted Mountain Corn.  It was a huge failure this year.  The stalks got knocked down a couple of times by wind storms.  The ears were small and very under-developed.  The chickens loved them.  Sigh.

Red Kuri Squash - My favorite Red Kuri squash was the only winter squash I planted this year.  Not one of them matured.  Not one.  A complete bust. No squash in our house this winter.

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Now for the crops grown for the chickens.


Mangels - I planted and successfully grew a big crop of mangels which are touted to be great livestock food.  Our chickens are not crazy about them.  First we tried them chopped up raw.  No go.  Now we cook them overnight on the wood stove in the garage and serve them warm to the chickens in the morning.  They are eating about half of the portion offered.  Maybe we need to add a little butter and salt and pepper.  Or buy some cattle to eat all the mangels we have in the root cellar.


Kale and Swiss Chard - I dried kale and Swiss chard to have as a green for feeding the poultry this winter.  Them seem to love it.  Maybe they think it's green grass that they haven't seen for the past few months because it's been under about three feet of snow.  This coming season I'll also dry boatloads of comfrey for them as we have an abundant supply of that.


Dried Hay/Grass - During the summer, Papa Pea cut, dried and stored in burlap bags cuttings from our small hay field.  This is fed out to the chickens all winter.  It must be this along with the greens I dehydrated that has kept the orange color in the egg yolks over winter.  Or I should say in the piddly small number of eggs we are getting right now. 

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That's a run-down of garden harvests from 2013.  Next on the gardening list is to check my seed supply and start pouring over all those seed catalogs that have been making a teetering pile on the corner of my desk.  A fun thing to do, but by the time the cost of the necessities and would-love-to-haves is totaled, it may be time for a reality check!

15 comments:

Leigh said...

Excellent post. Your mangels look fantastic. Lately I can't seem to grow any beet type plant, or rather, I can grow them but the deer mow them down just as quickly. Good ideas for the greens and hay too. These are all things I need to focus on this year (and ants. They demolished my okra).

flame93 said...
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Ilene Jones said...

I tried offering Comfrey to my Auracana chickens and they just didn't pay any attention to it at all. Last winter I got them to eat some by drying it and reducing it to a powder, which I mixed with some of their feed and warm water. They would eat most anything in the winter if it's been warmed.

The Weekend Homesteader said...

Some great ideas for the chickens! Maybe I can incorporate them in my rotations. I plan to grow some mangels for the rabbits this year. Too bad your chickens didn't like them. I could have used them for the chickens too. Oh well!

odiie said...

Seed catalogs are in my plans for today, also. Seems as soon as I sit still for more than 15 minutes I start to chill. Brrr....

Kristina said...

My chickens love getting garden goodies. So do the goats. I grow one sweet banana pepper plant every year, just for the billy goat. He loves them.

Susan said...

I can't believe you didn't get ONE kuri squash! They are my new favorite winter squash, thanks to you. Of course, I only got two, but.... I will have to try drying kale for the chicks this year. You can really pack a lot in one of those big gallon jars. It will be interesting to see what this gardening year will bring - I can't wait!

Lisa said...

Your mangles look good. Have you tried adding molasses to them. That is a great idea with the dried kale for the chickens. I now know what to do will the extras.

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - We couldn't garden at all here in our spot in northern Minnesota if the garden weren't totally fenced in against the deer.

Now you're scaring me about the ants! Have never had any trouble with them in the garden but we do notice large numbers of them along the north side of our house during some summers. Ugh.

Mama Pea said...

Ilene Jones - Sneaky little trick to get the comfrey into your chickens, but obviously effective!

Mama Pea said...

The Weekend Homesteader - I'm hoping that as our weather moderates, the chickens will take to the mangels. It's been so cold they're not really interested in much except huddling together and staying warm!

Mama Pea said...

odiie - More clothes, more clothes! Both hubby and I dress fairly warmly these days. (Inside and out!) But I know what you mean. I think I feel a cool draft across my knees right now!

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - That is really funny about your pepper eating goat! Does he get a little fried rice with that, too? ;o}

Mama Pea said...

Susan - We gardeners never go into a new season without something new to try, do we? There's always something to learn. (Like how to grow winter squash! Duh. I just need a little more cooperation from Mother Nature!)

Mama Pea said...

Lisa - No, we haven't tried molasses. Heck, it's supposed to be a tonic for us humans, so it might work wonders for the hens!

Right before the first killing frost last season I had lush Swiss chard and kale so I felt really good about being able to use it all.