We're under fowl surveillance. The chickens want in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dust baths and tomato seeds. Ah, spring!

Around here, spring is a tease. We'll have beautiful, warm sunny days that make us feel that spring has truly sprung, and then in an abrupt about-face it will snow down some spiteful slush on us.

On the sunny days, the chickens are clearly as ecstatic about it as we are. Here they are enjoying a dust bath. They will fluff dirt into their feathers to make sure no lice or other unpleasantness can live there. Plus, it obviously is a pleasurable experience for them. They transform our backyard into a chicken spa.

But Spring is nearly ready to commit. I hope. And we are preparing for gardening season! This means the shelf in front of the playroom windows are being taken over by tomato seedlings.

We had a bit of a tomato planting party. See, when we first started gardening, we would buy tomato starts from the local nursery. We grew some lovely Roma tomatoes and beefsteaks (if they told us the variety, I don't recall), and we were quite happy with them. But a good friend and lovely neighbor who jut happens to be an expert gardener opened our eyes to a world of tomato possibilities: it turns out that if you are willing to start your own tomato plants from seeds, there is no end to the variety you can choose from. I had no idea. Now, granted, I grew up in Alaska, where unless you have a greenhouse as well as a green thumb, you don't grow tomatoes. But still... orange tomatoes, purple tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, yellow and green striped tomatoes, tomatoes that remain green when ripe and juicy (which I forgot, so last year the chickens got most of those-I thought they were still green! Because they were! But ripe nonetheless)... it was a whole new world for me.

This year we ordered from a fantastic heirloom seed company called Baker Creek. After pouring over the amazing catalog, we selected (with N's help- he's quite the little gardening enthusiast) Violet Jasper and Omar's Lebanese as new varieties we're trying for the first time this year. We also planted some of the favorites we've found thus far: Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, and Pink Brandywine. Unfortunately, we ordered too late to get all out favorites-- some were sold out! My goal this year is to buckle down and learn how to successfully save the seeds from our tomatoes. Then we will only need to purchase seeds for new types to try.

Planting those tiny seeds, it never ceases to astonish me that we expect to get tomatoes from them. We planted some eggplant and sweet peppers, too. Purple Beauty Peppers, Lipstick Peppers, Black Diamond Eggplant, and the fabulously named Pandora Striped Rose Eggplant.

Here are J and N watering the newly planted seeds.

N feels a special responsibility for caring for our little plants. Here he is watering the seedlings a couple of weeks later.

A few days ago, the seedlings were so large that it was time to transfer them to larger containers. J undertook that task. And now they dominate the window.

Isn't it a beautiful sight?


  1. I admire your industriousness and your wonderful family! Looks like gardening preparations are in full swing!

  2. Love it. Nicely done and excellent images.

  3. If we don't move them soon, they'll start eroding the shelf.

  4. how fun, I know my mom would be jealous. Yes, she tries every year to grow tomatoes. In Alaska with out a green house, it doesn't work very well. I think she gets 2 salads out of her tomatoes.