Updated: Apr 9, 2019
Today we planted blue, red, and gold potatoes. If you've ever forgotten a potato in the pantry, you've probably seen the "eyes" sprout. If you toss a sprouted potato in the dirt, it can become a whole new plant. So, that's more or less what we did with the 'seed' potatoes.
Facing the young leaves upwards, we spaced the potatoes into two rows. Then, we dug a hole and buried each potato so that the top of the tallest sprout was a few inches underground. We pressed the earth firmly over the spuds and scattered a thin layer of hay over top.
Since we will soon be expanding our flock, we need a new coop. It will only be a temporary home, so it can be small and light. Hunter designed it and spent several days constructing, and Concetta, Lillian and I helped out when we could.
We cut the tops of two plywood boards into curves and mounted them on either side of a wooden frame. Each wall board got a door: one for humans, and one automatic door for chickens. We covered the frame with chicken wire and then a sturdy tarp. The final coop looks kinda like a covered wagon, but more stable and snug.
We filled the inside with cedar chips and brought it to the land. Thanks to its four wheels, it was easy to move it into a patch of grass. A electric fence marked off the yard, and then the new home was ready and awaiting its inhabitants.
Settling into Spring
Concetta and Hunter have recently picked up the pace of planting, and now that Lilly and I are on break, more plants than ever are going into the ground. Grapes, asparagus, and strawberries are all in, along with a growing array of others.
Each species has its preferences. We always think before we sink. Sun direction, water flow, drainage, future shade, and nearby companion plants are all factors. Once a place is chosen, some plants need lots of organic material, or extra mulch to keep out competitors. Asparagus, for example, lives in a trench, which we will fill over time as it grows.
Checking in on some familiar friends, I discovered the comfrey had awakened from its winter slumber. The elderberries, too, are now more than twigs (though not much more.) The classic bell flowers have formed on the blueberries, with lime-green leaves close on their heels.
The early spring wild species are giving way to the second wave of flowers. In the grass bloom the tiny precursors to garden pansies. Viola tricolor has many colorful common names, including heart's ease, Jack-jump-up-and-kiss-me, three faces in a hood, and love-in-idleness.
At the old home site, a purple flower, probably a hyacinth, emerges in vibrant clusters.
Buttercups are starting to open, though I bet there will soon be many more. Buttercups belong to the genus Ranunculus. It's quite a large genus with many non-shiny-yellow members, but I don't yet know how to identify buttercups down to species, so that's the best I can do for now. They are beautiful whatever their names.
While I was pushing the wheelbarrow down to the cherry guild, a little scrap of yellow caught my eye. A completely new flower had just escaped being crushed underfoot. Kneeling to count the petals, I figured the tiny plant likely belonged to the genus Brassica.
Brassica species are called "cruciferous" plants because their four petals form crosses. The genus includes familiar vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and mustard. It also includes a lot of weeds, but on our land the weeds are welcome to all the grassy space they need.
I can't be sure of the identification, since I've literally never seen this plant before. In many ways, that uncertainty is welcome. Now that winter is dissipating, I look forward to new surprises springing forth.