I can’t believe it’s July already. Time is flying by this summer. June has been a mixture of hot and dry with cold and rainy, and that has been good for my garden. Last year, I built two raised beds, each 8′ x 4′, but I only got one bed filled with dirt. It yielded some nice tomato plants that I had started from seed, until the goat got in and ate them down. This year, I got the second bed filled with dirt and built two more 8′ x 2′ beds which I filled with strawberry plants. The two larger boxes contain tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, cilantro, and basil and some marigolds to help keep bugs away. The photo above was from early last week, and everything is doing well. The lettuce had been looking good, so this weekend, we actually picked a few leaves and had a very delicious home-grown salad. And then, for some reason, that got the chickens interested as well. The next day, we found the chickens eating lettuce out of the long boxes also full of lettuce on the porch. That’s when I ran outside to discover they had gotten to the garden supply first. All that gorgeous lettuce was gone in an instant.

I’m not sure what set them off. They had been in and around the garden area the entire season and not touched a plant. I wonder if by picking off leaves, the lettuce plants emitted a chemical that the chickens picked up on and finally noticed that the lettuce was there. I’ve since taken precautions to exclude the chickens from the fenced-in garden. We got some chicken wire and attached it to the gate, but had discovered that the chickens were still getting in. It turns out that the one side of the fence didn’t actually reach the ground, and the birds were able to walk right under it. So, I blocked that off and so far the chickens haven’t been back to bother the crops. I’m hoping that enough plant material is left for new leaves to start growing, but just in case, I planted some more seeds, though they won’t be ready for consumption for another two months. But by that time, the tomatoes and peppers should be ready and we can have a fully home-grown salad.

On the flower front, one of my natives that I bought and planted last summer had survived, and so the blanketflower is now in bloom. I also noticed a couple of sunflower plants growing. I hadn’t planted any this year, so they must have come from the bird feeder. One was starting to get pretty big when Mower (the goat) decided it was a lovely snack. Mow also loves to eat roses, and I noticed a few blooms on our rose bush had gone missing, so the goat is now grounded from the free snack buffet until the flower season comes to an end. She’s already eaten most of the flower buds from the day lilies, but a few remain in the back of the house.

Now that we had the mud/horse manure compost scraped into a big pile, it’s much easier to load into the cart. I’ll work on adding more raised beds to the vegetable garden, but we can also add some nice compost to the flower gardens this fall to help control weeds and feed the plants. We’re also going to rip out the creeping cedar bush that seems to be taking over and plant the area with flowers to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. I’d like to do mostly native wildflowers, but I’ll settle for a few cultivated varieties.