As I opened up their enclosure, I noticed something that made my day. An egg!! They had not laid any eggs since late November.
Greetings fellow gardeners,
Early this morning it was cold and crisp and relentlessly February. I decided to take a walk to see if there was any end to this situation. I found several remnants of the warmth of summer, but they were cold and covered in snow.
After passing by the snowy pig, I stopped to observe my hügelkultur (German pronunciation: [ˈhyːɡl̩kʊlˌtuːɐ̯] is a horticultural technique where a mound constructed from decaying wood debris and other compostablebiomass plant materials is later (or immediately) planted as a raised bed). Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCgelkultur. It is getting a bit taller and it is covered in snow, but the birds have found the seeds from the various plants I did not cut back. The kitchen waste and leftover chicken feed are not wasted. I am careful not to put meat, bread, or pasta on the pile, as it would attract wildlife that I do not want. Now it is covered in waves of juncos, sparrows, cardinals, grackles, crows, and a pair of ravens. Every now and then a number of turkeys wander by, all tough and smart, walking like a gang out of West-side Story. Seeing all the little footprints in the snow makes me feel happy that the seeds I left are being used.
I turned on the lamp that I light in the chicken coop and went to open up their little enclosure. I put a lamp in the coop, as the tarp that covers the lower part of the structure to keep things warm also makes it rather dark. As I opened up their enclosure, I noticed something that made my day. An egg!! They had not laid any eggs since late November. They stop laying when the light levels decrease. This egg means that the light levels are increasing, and that spring is on its way!
The cold is definitely moving in. I have stockpiled wood for the stove and made sure there are no breezes in and around the plant compound. I have been watching for growth and am pleased that some of the pimento peppers are at the seed-leaf stage. I find that peppers are very slow to get going and I am happy to see some progress. The little seed-leaves are tender and vulnerable and very tempting for the too-many cats, so I have reinforced the top shelf of the plant compound.
Lately, I have been observing an explosion in gardening; lots of new and aspiring gardeners. I love that people are so eager to grow their own food. One of the things I would like to emphasize however, is that there is a lot of misinformation out there. When you put your gardening question into a search engine, you are not necessarily getting the best answer; you are getting the most popular answer. Realizing that not all people are into using garden reference books, I would recommend that you use reputable sites. For example, is the site university based? If it is a gardening website, does it site references? Where do they get their information? The Master Gardeners have an email helpline where you can ask questions. There are Master Gardener sites all over Ontario. Most importantly, stay in your zone. In Ontario we go from zone 2 to zone 7a so be sure to know which zone you are in. You can find your zone on this map http://planthardiness.gc.ca/?m=1. This does not mean that you can’t grow plants over your zone. I grow zone 9 white sage, but I realize that it is not going to make it through the winter, so I grow it as an annual. I love watching my favourite gardener Monty Don, as he gardens in Britain, but I know his plants and suggestions will not always work in my garden. But I do love to watch gardening shows as the cold creeps in and the wood stove crackles.
The sun is waking up and the sky is pink, so I am going to go see if the chickens left me another egg. Have a wonderful week.