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November 29th, 2010

Test Garden Update: Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, NV

crocusThe harvest from my garden continues. This month I’m harvesting the orange saffron threads from the Crocus sativus blossoms (above).

Only 20 more pomegranates to juice—our muscles are very sore!

pom-juiceSome of the juice is going into these little Starbucks bottles I saved over the years (finally found a use for them). I need another freezer. Some of the pomegranate harvest is now jelly.

I am finished harvesting the pistachios. We got a huge amount this year. I dried them and froze them. Have you ever tasted a fresh-dried and frozen—not roasted—pistachio? Not many have. They are really good; different. If you like pistachios, you would like these better than the roasted.

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November 17th, 2010

Test Garden Update, Leslie Doyle, Las Vegas, NV

leslie_d_tnLast weekend I got two 4-month-old Australorp hens (photo below). They have very sweet dispositions—really. These are huggie chickens. I had to get more hens since I built a larger pen area around my coop. No square inch of my precious and little 1/2-acre city lot can go unused.

AustralorpsThe second photo shows the new fence I put in to keep my chickens out of the garlic and veggie beds. This is a portable fence (my design) and it is held up by the planter boxes along the outside and a couple of 15-gallon nursery pots on the inside. The coop is on wheels, so the fence has to be movable too. The gate has those hinges that close it when I forget (often).

coopSee the pole lamp? It’s to fool the chickens into thinking the days are longer, so they keep laying. I don’t know if it will work.

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November 5th, 2010

Test Garden Update, Bill Nunes, Gustine, CA

billnunes Last week we drove up to Peaceful Valley Farm Supply in Grass Valley. I buy some seeds from them but mostly use them for soil amendments, cover crop seed, and fertilizers.

Came home with about 500 pounds of stuff including 200 pounds of winter rye. A 6-acre piece near my garden has come back into the family after several years of benign neglect. My middle son worked with me last year, but now is spending most of his time on this piece. When people ask me about starting an organic farm or garden I always strongly recommend starting with a season or two of cover cropping to build the soil and reduce the weed seed bank. So we’re actually going to practice what I preach on most of the 6 acres.

I’ve been getting a bit more rigorous about cover crops in my garden as well. About 8 beds got rye grass cover last winter and were very strong in tomato, winter squash, cukes, and long beans this summer.

I didn’t do much buckwheat cover this summer, but where I did I got a great crop in about 40 days. Heck, I had beds lay empty longer than that—which does no good at all. Quick summer cover crops are definitely on my to-do list for next spring and summer.

I’m also playing with mustards as a cover crop. Harvest a few baby greens before turning most of it under. The leaves are tender and break down pretty quickly. Next thing I want to try is rolling the mustard down and transplanting into the mulch instead of turning it under. I really need to work on weed suppression as opposed to hoeing, digging, pulling… Hand weeding is getting kind of old and I am too!

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