As most of you know, this is my first year for gardening. I’ve done some reading, asked some questions, but mostly I am learning as I go along.
My garden isn’t very big. I have a couple of tomato plants, one big zucchini plant, a couple of yellow squash plants, a couple of cucumber plants, a couple of watermelon plants, a few pepper plants, some basil, some mint, some oregano, some marigolds and some Calendula. All of my plants, aside from one tomato plant and the zucchini plant, have stayed fairly small. I am not sure if it is due to the soil or the really hot weather and/or lack of rain.
The plants are all very happy looking though. I laid a down a decent layer of hay in the garden to help preserve moisture and it really seems to have made a difference. We also just tilled another patch of earth. I covered it up with a nice layer of hay, grass clippings, and goat manure. I have high expectations for when I can finally plant in that spot. It is too hot right now though.
My tomato plants are finally starting to produce fruit. The buds kept getting chopped off. Then the chickens discovered the garden. For the tomato plants, this has been great. For the rest of the garden, not so much. The chickens keep helping themselves to the squash. I haven’t been able to enjoy any from my own garden. They have been plucking off the tiny watermelons when they pop up. If I am not fast enough, they start in on my zucchini. They even pecked at my green peppers enough to make holes in them and then walked away. . . .
We are working on getting the fence up around the garden, but it has been slow going. Hopefully we will get it finished soon. Until then we try to keep a close eye on things and shoo them away when we catch them in there.
I also have a little flower bed at the corner of the house across from the garden. Nothing is actually blooming yet. I have sunflowers, more Calendula, more marigolds, and some other stuff that I don’t remember. It is supposed to be a bird and pollinator mix. I had replanted some sunflowers that I started in pots, but the chickens took the freshly dug dirt as an invitation to dig around and ended up digging them up. . . .
I know we will find the balance with gardening and free-range chickens. Until then, we will have to deal with a few frustrations.