With the warmer weather, Mother Nature has fooled plants into flowering. The roadsides and yards are full of Daffodils and tulips. All the peach trees are in full bloom. Our peach trees last year were in full bloom in April when an arctic blast dumped six inches of snow on us. The result was no peaches. None for the squirrels either. Usually, the squirrels hit my peach and apple trees very hard each year, but not last year. It was slim pickings for all of us.
This year, I've bought some small smudge pots in the hopes of fending off some of the damage these late freezes cause. When we get the 1/4 acre orchard planted we'll be looking for the larger ones, but for right now, these will work. We'll really be working for an abundant harvest this year of fresh fruit from our existing trees. I've invested in bird netting to protect the fruit from birds and maybe a few squirrels. I've also bought a gross of nylon stocking the bag out apples with to prevent the caterpillars and moths from munching on the developing fruit.
New to the orchard this year is the 3 1/2' x 3 1/2' raised pallet herb beds. Mel has been busy constructing these as I type. We are using commercial feed bags from the rabbits to line them before putting our soil mixture in them. Our soil mixture is 2 part native clay soil, 1 part peat moss, 2 parts compost, and for extra drainage we add 1 part sand. Herbs don't like standing in water. As far as "chemicals" go, we add 1/2 cup bone meal, 1/4 cup rock dust, and 1/4 cup blood meal. We'll add additional compost during the growing season for the herbs. This mixture is only added to our newly built beds. Last year's raised herb beds get a thick top dressing of compost. We use the underneath of the raised beds for making compost by layering leaves and rabbit/chicken used bedding.
Nothing goes to waste on our homestead and because of our limited space, everything does double or triple duty.
I love making pickled diakon and kim chi with diakon radishes. Yummy for my tummy! I'll even tempura fry the radishes instead of potatoes. They have a bite to them and hold up better like turnip roots. I also use diakon in soups and stews. Okay, I know. I'm making you hungry. I'll stop. This is another example of double or triple use. By seeding the bare soil, it prevents weeds from forming. Or at least, I'll grow the weeds I want.
I also plan on sowing dye flowers and plants in this for now empty part of the orchard. I may even plants some vegetables, I'm not sure yet. I don't expect much from the orchard area this year. But anything is better than nothing. Any plant life will enrich the soil by adding nutrients and help break up the hard clay. Why not let Mother Nature do the work for us if we can? It sounds like a win-win situation.
This week we've been revamping the bunny barn. All the cages were taken down and scrubbed. We do this twice a year. Not that we don't clean them in between, we do. But nothing beats a thorough scrubbing. Even the water bottles and J feeders get a once over. It's also the time we give our Angoras their summer crew cuts. Each rabbit is sheared of its fur. They also visit Madame Mel for their manis and pedis. Their ears are treated with mineral oil for treatment and/or prevention of ear mites. This is a quarterly thing with our rabbits. An intense trip to the beauty shop for their makeovers. Not that we don't groom them throughout the year, but this is labor intensive and takes both of us a full week for them all. When you have this much hair, trips to the beauty shop are essential every couple of days. These bunnies only weigh about three pounds with their summer crew cuts, but close to double that fully coated.
That's it for this week.
Y'all have a blessed day.