Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pictures around Sunny Spot Gardens (Dec 29th 2012)

Rainbow Swiss Chard

Chocolate Mint in a bucket

Our patch of arugula, pesto here we come

Baby Broccoli

Cabbage plant finally growing after the chickens stopped eating it

Radishes ready to be eaten

Our cute chickens <3 this picture!

herbs growing in Brooke's old sandbox

Lettuce. Yum!

Here is our pond 2 weeks after constuction

Tomato ready for picking

Strawberry Bloom

Pond Building

2 weeks ago a lovely group of people came to my house headed by the amazing Jungle Jay. They proceeded to dig and create a pond in the back corner of my lot.

A warm December morning started one of my favorite things. Our pond. Waking up early I drove up to my work the grab cardboard to create a path for a wheelbarrow to travel without sinking into the sandy ground. Ronnie went and gathered pallets to put along the chain link fence to ensure our dirt piles didn't spill into anyone elses yard. We met back at the house and my stomach was turning with excitement. I went outside and started picking up empty pots and other misc trash that somehow finds itself scattered around my yard. At 930 Jay arrived with his trailer of goodies. Shovels of all types, rakes, soil sifters, buckets of plants, and other goods.

A little before 10am people started arriving, cars pulling up along the sidewalks out front, exchanging cash and smiles. We headed to the back yard and started preparing.
I set up chairs for people to sit in and Jay started talking as others joined, sitting cross legged in his wheelbarrow turned lounge he talked about his past and present giving us insight into who he is as a person. Then he talked about ponds histories and peoples interactions with them. He talked about growing food, and eating fish. We all sat eagerly listening, some scribbling notes down in notebooks they brought. When he finished we cleared the way and quickly went over what type of shovels were good for what type of application. We moved the chairs back and the men grabbed shovels and went to work.

The banks of the pond were slowly built as sand soil was pushed up, I raked it out smooth and even. Jay directed people where to dig and how to angle their shovel.
The rest of us stood back and chatted about everything from beer to pond plants and back. I introduced people to the fine taste of pumpkin ales and watched as shovel after shovel plunged into the ground with such a force pulling away sand that had sat still for possibly thousands of years.

One gentlemen found the score of the day: a dog grave site. First pulling up a ripped tattered plastic garbage bag then finding bones as well as polished teeth. We passed around the canine tooth which looked like a well polished gem in aw of how something so unpleasant like a dog tooth could become quite beautiful.

We moved on as Jay put final touches on the digging part making perfect angels, and a smooth even shelf to attach the liner to. The pond liner which was a old billboard out of the waste stream was brought over and opened up. The guys spread it over the newly created hole and jay jumped in the middle, forming the liner to the sides and bottom of the soon to be pond. We joked of pond plants being good names for alcoholic drinks like hot cabamba.

We dragged the hose over and started filling her up but that would take a while. We all hugged, exchanged handshakes, or another form of congrats and some started going home. A couple hours later just Jay and my family were left. The pond was complete and he started pulling the dirt back onto the shelf. I thanked him with all my heart and was thrilled at the giant pond (I think its giant) that lay before me. The PERFECT addition to our property and gardens. I was thrilled, I AM thrilled.

I cannot wait to plant the fence line with goods like kiwi and passion fruit, then the banks with wonderful plants like bananas, papayas, sweet potatoes, pineapple, elderberry, and other goods that will grip the soil and keep it from falling into the pond as well as enjoy the heating and cooling properties of water. *Heat in the winter, Cool in the summer*

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fast Fridge Bread/ Pizza Dough


~ 3 cups hot water (slightly above body temperature)
~ 1 1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast
~ 1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
~ 6 cups flour

If you want to double the batch, just remember 6-3-3-12: 6 cups water, 3TB yeast, 3TB salt, 12 cups flour.

*I always use unbleached flour*


Mix up the ingredients in a large bowl, cover with a greased piece of plastic and let it rise for about 4 hours (could be up to 8 and I just let it go overnight) or until it collapses in on itself without you touching or messing with it.

Cover it loosely and put it in the fridge until you use it to make bread or pizza crust.(Let it refrigerate at least three hours before using it the first time.)

When you need some dough, take out the bowl, cut off a piece of dough (about a pound) and refrigerate the rest. Shape it into a ball on the counter (you might use a little flour to keep it from sticking. Put the shaped loaf onto the cooking surface and slash the top lightly with a knife to make three diagonal lines.

Cover with a piece of waxed paper & let it rise for about 30-60 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

When the dough is done rising, bake for 25-30 minutes.
*If you want a thick chewy crust on your bread, place a container of hot water in the back of the oven to add steam while it bakes or throw a handful of ice cubes onto the oven floor <- That's what i do most of the time* Cool before cutting.

This is a dense bread and will have a taste and texture similar to sourdough, the longer spent in the fridge the more sourdough taste the bread will have.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Strange and Intriguing

The Ladies Of Manure 2013 Calendar Kickstarter... For the weirdo in all of us ;)


Wishing these ladies the best of luck to achieve their composted dreams!

The Salt N Peppa Story

Its always hard getting rid of something you have had for a while, and when raising animals it might become even harder. You get attached to them, you learn their calls, the way they act, the way they move, you watch them, love them, hold them, care for them, protect them... then you have to make a hard choice. Sometimes its an illness that is putting them through pain, sometimes its that your child is scared of them. Whatever the cause it is always a sad occasion.

My story is about our hen Salt N' Peppa, a silver laced wyandotte. She was one of our original 3 chickens, the start of our small flock. We drove around to different feed stores looking for a breed we each wanted. Brooke picked out this tiny cute little chick, black and white. She didn't run away when we reached in to pick her out like the others so we knew she was for us. They put her in a box and sent her home with us. I held the little box on my lap the whole way home, cooing to our new chicks that everything would be alright. We stuck them in their little aquarium home warmed by a red heat lamp and watched them grow... and grow... and grow.

They were soon to large (and smelly) to be inside so they were moved to our porch inside a LARGE metal dog cage filled with coastal hay. We watched them everyday, taking them out to play with them and pet them. They grew fast and within a couple weeks they were ready to be moved outside. We found a coop on Phreecycle and drove it home slowly on top of our SUV. We set up their area, complete with their new coop and garden fencing to keep them outta the gardens. They were moved outside and seemed to like their new home. All 3 of them huddled together at night on the roast, walked around their area together and of course pecked on each other.

As they grew we saw Salt N Peppa get bossy, stand her ground, pick fights never to be mean but she was determined to be in charge of that pecking order. There was only one problem, Shawdow (my chicken) the jersey giant was bigger then her and she was the one handing down the chicken orders. There were scuffles and squawks,but Shawdow always stayed in the lead until a year later when she came down with a disease and perished. I loved that chicken. After a week of chicken mourning, not want to be held or seen, barely eating, always looking for her, Salt N Peppa took over as head lady hen. My grief for the loss of my shadow made me turn into a urban chicken lady wanting more and more chickens to replace the loss in my heart for my one. No matter who we brought in Salt N Peppa kept the head seat. Through more fights and pecks, through having her feathers ripped out my some unknown jerk. She has held her head high and stayed the queen of the flock.

For over 2 years now she has been a good lady chicken, never letting on of her own get hurt though she did let the ducks get attacked and pass. Always laying large brown eggs almost daily, and stooping down to let us pick her up and pet her. Her large red waddles swing back and forth when she struts around showing off her beautiful white and black speckled coat of feathers. Recently though she doesn't like Brooke, Pecking her if she comes to close and SNP feels cornered. I understand a little our cat does the same thing, but after the 6th peck Brooke no longer wants to visit the ladies, help take care of them, and learn about them which is one of the reasons we got them in the first place. I never considered giving her up until Brooke asked me to get rid of her. It hurt that she wouldn't want her chicken around anymore and she disliked her little lady. So sadly I typed a In Search Of request on facebook wanting her to go to a home where she will be loved, can grow old while being happy and not wind up in someones stockpot as stew. I hope that I found her that home, and when they come to pick her up I will be sad she has been apart of my life everyday for over 2 years but I will also be happy knowing she is going to a new happy loving home.

Here is SNP (on the left) with her first friend Red. The 2 remaining first flock members.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What to plant in December: Zone 9

Plant seeds of:

All Onion: Bulb, Bunching, Green
English Peas

* Provide plants with enough water if rainfall is scarce.
* Winter is a perfect time to work in your garden creating new gardens, adding features, and other misc work because it is cool enough to not kill yourself outdoors.