I am a Mom of 2 wonderful kids, ages 3.5 and 6.5, and have lived on a beautiful 1.3 acre lot in the suburbs for the last 3 years. In that time I've become somewhat of a green/self-sufficiency/gardening fanatic. Luckily my loving husband is right there with me in this adventure!
When we moved in, the garden patch was 10 x 10, but last year we increased that to about 1800 sq ft. About 1.5 years ago we bought our first 6 laying hens, then were given 5 more by a neighbor. We then raised 6 chicks to adulthood the spring after that, and last fall raised 25. If you don't know already, raising chickens is very addictive. Once you have a few you want more and more and more. The only problem with that is that we can't eat, sell or give away the eggs fast enough. I guess I need a bigger fridge. Right now we have 25 hens and 2 roosters. The flock is a mix of Aracauna, New Hampshire Reds, Golden Sex Link, Black Star, Buff Orpington, and Barred Rock. The kids have named the roosters Rainbow and Fluffy. I'm not sure what the rooster thinks of being called Fluffy, but I guess he doesn't get a say in the matter.
Spring can't come fast enough for me. All winter I look out at the empty garden and wish I could start planting. We do have a greenhouse, of which I should take more advantage in the winter, but it's really spring when the gardening bug bites me badly. I started a lot of last year's seeds in the greenhouse thinking a lot of them wouldn't sprout, but almost all of them did. So I have a ridiculous number of starts of some veggies. I started moving some starts to the garden in the middle of April. First the Pak Choi and Red Cabbage went in, then the green leaf lettuce and the zucchini. I started spinach seeds and corn seeds in the garden around the same time. Toward the end of April I planted my sprouted potatoes in pots. I think the best way to grow potatoes is in a potato barrel or a pot. At the end of the season you empty your pot and you've got a pile of potatoes. Can't beat that! By the first couple of weeks in may I'd put in starts of beets, Swiss chard, carrots, red leaf lettuce, onions, cukes and Leeks and planted peas. I've planted almost all of my carrots this year between other things like the red cabbage and chard. Hopefully it'll work out ok. This past weekend I planted some soybean starts and planted more soybean seeds in the garden. I have watermelon and tomatoes started in the greenhouse as well as pumpkin and some butternut squash. I don't have high hopes for the tomatoes. I am notorious for not being able to grow tomatoes! When most people think of a garden the first vegetable they think of is a tomato, and I CAN'T GROW TOMATOES! Last year I had a bushel of green tomatoes and not a red one on the vines. This year I cooked the first batch of seeds and have had a heck of a time getting the second batch to sprout. Hopefully I'll get something if I keep them in the greenhouse in the summer rather than putting them in the garden. We'll see.
I've been starting most of my seeds in compost that we made this past year. We mixed the chicken manure, shredded paper, straw, kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, etc. and I guess it's turned into some nice compost. Things seem to be growing in it pretty well.
This past weekend I noticed that the spinach had come up in the garden as well as the corn! Now I'll go back through and plant some pole beans next to the corn. I really like the Native American way of planting the 3 sisters together. They would plant corn, beans and squash in the same planting bed. The corn needs extra nitrogen, which the beans put back into the soil. The corn is a tall pole that the pole beans can climb, and the squash has pricklies that deter predators from eating the veggies.
So now, I get to wait and see what grows and what doesn't. I'm pretty sure we'll have more beets and red cabbage than we can eat and may not have any red tomatoes. But like everything else, gardening is a journey. And it's one I wait all year to have.