Fancy Fencing for Feathered Friends

The 18″ high fencing we’d been using to keep our 4 chickens in their designated 300 square foot area had been falling short for quite some time.  The Silkies had figured out how to squeeze through and Henrietta could just give a little hop and just roam free all through the yard, which is not a good thing.  I decided I’d had enough of chasing chickens around the yard when I came home from the store, so I did a little research and found this blog post from Sunny Simple Life and knew it was just what I had in mind.  Something nice looking, blends well with the garden and is functional.

Before (morning dirt bath under the Double Delight Nectarine):

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After:

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I purchased it at Lowe’s and it took about 2 hours to install with metal posts that hammer into the ground.  The fencing slides onto the posts and then links together to the panel next to it.  In order to still have access into their space, we left one panel un-linked, sawed off the metal post at the bottom of the panel to prevent drag and then turned around the next panel and continued along.

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I love the leaf design.  Now I know the chickens aren’t causing mischief in the rest of the yard, which makes me an even happier chicken owner.

And a couple fun veggies:

White heirloom cuke

White heirloom cuke

My first butternut squash!

My first butternut squash!

NEW Herb Grow Pot Design!!

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With Spring nearly upon us, I thought it was a fine time to create a new Bountiful Backyard grow pot design focused on herbs.  This new grow pot has some cute ladybugs, which are only on this new design.  It comes in the 10 gallon size, perfect for a collection of favorite herbs!

herb1For more info on the benefits of grow pots versus traditional pots, click the tab at the top of the page “Custom Designed Fabric Grow Bags” or visit the Etsy listing here.

Happy Almost-Spring!

Colorful Beans

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The first real green (and purple and Rattlesnake) bean harvest of the season.  I grow all pole beans since I love taking advantage of vertical height in the garden.  Stick a 6′ wooden pole (hence the name) right next to each bean plant and leave the rest to them.  The green beans are from seeds I saved from last season.  The heirloom purple and Rattlesnake are new to me this year and I’m having such fun seeing their uniqueness peeking out in a sea of green.  They’re great tasting, too!  Can’t wait to add these to tonight’s dinner.

The bounty.

I’d say that green beans are one of the funnest edibles to collect.  There’s always more on the vine than you thought, because so many are tucked behind leaves or blend into their surroundings.

Bon Appetit!

Success and Struggle

Let’s begin with the success.  Whenever given the option, I always chose the good news first.

Jarrahdale pumpkin in the making.

This Australian heirloom will mature into a bluish-grey beauty.  I planted these seeds a mere 8 weeks ago and the vines are growing up a storm, complete with baby pumpkins.  One of my most favorite things to grow, by far.

Persian Little Finger cucumbers climbing up the trellis netting.

Last year I grew my first cucumber plant, which happened to be a lemon cuke.  This year I added one more type of cucumber to my arsenal.  I’m super pleased with the Persian Little Finger’s growth and prolific cucumbers.  They are mild and slightly sweet.

Now here comes the struggle I’ve been facing and attempting to remedy.  I can only assume that mice have been living in my yard since time immemorial.  With the addition of the chicken coop and veggie garden, either their numbers have increased or they’re just becoming lackadaisical in their sense of stealth.  I’m willing to bet it’s a bit of both.  No matter how many I catch, there just seem to always be more.  I was first humbled by their presence in early spring when my potato foliage started disappearing.  I’ve learned that one of their most favorite snacks out of the summer vegetable garden is the beans.  I have had about 14 pole green bean plants of different types.  The mice go right for the main stalks of the plant, biting them right in half.  About 5 tall beans that had been making their way up the trellis with dozens of little green bean flowers started wilting while the others were doing just fine.  Upon closer inspection I could see that the stalks had been severed.  Talk about one of the biggest bummers of the spring plantings.  However, the silver lining of these rodent shenanigans is that I’ve been able to leave the plant base in tact and they have regenerated.

Now since I’ve been told that I have one of the largest melons (brains) in the animal kingdom, I hatched a plan to outwit my fellow green bean lover.  And it happened to be free, without even a trip to the local home improvement store.  Plastic bottles.  Yup.  Since the mice were only causing damage around the base, I was able to fashion a sort of collar for the bottom 8 inches or so of the plant.  The types of bottles that I used were slick enough that perhaps the mice feet cannot find any traction to climb up.  I cut the tops and bottoms off of CLEAR plastic containers (juice, milk, gatorade, water) and one cut through from top to bottom to get it around the plant.  Voila.

My poor decapitated beans.

So far so good on my homemade mice deterrents.  Take that!

Urban Homesteading

For years my mom tried and tried to teach me how to cook and bake.  On the occasions when I would agree to lend a hand, my interest quickly waned.  Looking back now, I suppose I lacked motivation.  Even up until a year ago, cooking was a bit of a chore, feeling low on inspiration and knowledge.  As my daughter has gotten a little older (now 3), and I’ve been fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom, I’ve had more time to devote to experimenting in the kitchen.  Something has clicked in me.  Maybe it was after I realized that I really could make a mean steak and chocolate pecan pie.  The reaction from my friends, family and primarily my husband has supplied me with plenty of motivation.  Most anyone can follow a recipe, right?  And now I’m just starting to delve into creating my own dishes, which is something I could have never dreamed of.  I feel a certain peace and comfort in providing my family with delicious meals, now with the help of organic vegetables and eggs (hopefully soon!) from our very backyard.

I read an article called, “Are you an Urban Homesteader” in a fabulous blog called Kitchenreport.  It’s written by a woman living in Boston who talks all things food, cooking and travel.  This article struck a chord with me.  Growing my own food reminds me of many years ago when it was the norm, rather than the exception, for families to grow food from seed in their backyard and collected morning eggs from the hen house.  In the big city suburbs where I live today, I enjoy being a unique trendsetter in my neighborhood of lush, grassy Mediterranean landscaping that gives zero back.  I’ve read that urban homesteading is on the rise and I’m proud to be associated with the movement.

Can those of us who enjoy elements of city life AND country life really have it all?  I’ve realized over the process of converting part of my backyard to house a chicken coop and vegetable garden that part of me is a country girl.  I’m born and raised in the county where I live now (San Diego).  Never been camping.  Never milked a cow.  Part of me enjoys the activity and excitement of a city and another part loves the self-sufficiency and peace from having my own veggies/fruits and eggs.  I guess you can have it all!

Crustless Quiche

This unique no-crust quiche is similar to a frittata considering it's sans crust status. I make it with few to no egg yolks (this is optional in the recipe) and chalk full of garden fresh vegetables. A light, healthy entree great hot or cold for any meal of the day. I made it for Mother's Day brunch this year and it was a huge hit!

  •  6 large eggs (either just whites or a few yolks).  Make it 5 eggs if you’re adding all the yolks.
  • 1/2 C low-fat milk
  • 6 slices if cheddar cheese chopped into small cubes.  Can also use Provolone, Gruyere, Swiss, or any combination you like.
  • 1 1/2 C chopped veggies.  I like broccoli, beets, carrots, squash, green beans, bell peppers…whatever you like!
  • 1/2 of medium chopped onion
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Any fresh herbs you may have on hand-parsley and thyme are good ones.

Preheat oven to 425.  

Steam chopped vegetables until just tender (about 4 minutes); drain.  Saute onion in butter until translucent (about 5 minutes).

Beat eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in milk, cheese, steamed vegetables, onion (with butter from saute pan), salt & pepper and optional herbs.  Pour into a tin/metal/or glass pie dish.

Place on cookie sheet and bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 375 for 40 minutes or until done.  Quiche is done when it is firm in the center and springs back when touched lightly.