Thursday, February 18, 2016

growing winter greens for the chickens


During the summer our small flock of chickens is free-range, eating all sorts of bugs and greens they find throughout our property, along with regular feed.  That all changes here where the ground is frozen and snow covered most of the winter.  The yolks of their eggs become a light yellow rather than that deep rich orange and I’m sure their general health is slightly less good as well, even though we give them a good feed and a supplemental seed/grain block to pick on. 

I heard about growing winter greens for your chickens last year from a friend when it was almost spring, so I decided this year to try it out.  I have two florescent light ballasts set up in the basement for seed starting, and since I leave them there year round I decided to put them to use.  I got a bag of oats from our local feed store co-op, spread them thickly in seed trays, and soaked them in water for a couple of days. 


Then I drained them, covered them with plastic wrap (my seed tray covers are still put away—need to dig those out!), and put them under the florescent lights in the basement. 


Within a day or two, little white roots start to grow,


and then the greens start to come up.  Once the greens are a few inches tall, I put the whole tray in the chicken pen and let them at it.  I usually have a couple of trays going at once so they get a fairly steady diet. 


They love it!  They get in there scratching and pecking, yum yum! 



It is pretty easy (only takes a few minutes of time once you have the set-up!) and it makes me happy to give them some nice healthy greens in the middle of winter! 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Grow Your Own Garden; a book review

If your love of gardening exceeds your gardening budget (um, what gardener doesn’t have this problem?!), you have plants you love and want more of them, you would like to dabble in plant breeding, or you have perennials you *should* divide but you just don’t know how to do it…this book is for you! 


Grow Your Own Garden, by Carol Klein

British gardeners will probably have heard of Carol Klein, but for those who have not…she is a long time gardener and owns a plant business in Devon, England.  She is a regular on the British gardening series Gardener’s World and other garden-related shows like Carol’s Garden Odyssey and Life in a Cottage Garden (my favorite!)..  She has a very effusive and enthusiastic personality and isn’t afraid to get her hands in the dirt which makes her really fun to watch!


My husband bought this book for me for Christmas and I love it!   She describes the different methods of propagating plants in a way that is easy to understand, and details those methods with lots of pictures so even beginners will know what to do (love the pictures!  so fun to look at in darkest January…). 


I have been trying my hand at taking various cuttings over the past two years with varying levels of success and I’m still very much a novice so this should be really helpful.  She goes into how to multiply many different types of bulbs, how to take root cuttings, saving and planting seeds, dividing difficult plants, selectively breeding plants to make new variations, and on and on.  It really covers it all, at least all that home gardeners will probably need. 


Plus, did I mention the beautiful pictures??? 


There’s a whole lot of snow outside, so nothing better on a winter day than to look at colorful gardening books and plan the year ahead!