Introducing Oscar: snuggle-bunny and garden fertilizer! He is a nine-week old New Zealand Red rabbit. He is living in his (free from a neighbor) hutch in the garage until the weather is warmer at night, then we will move the hutch to the back yard by the compost bins. New Zealands are "meat rabbits" and get to be about ten pounds. They come in white, black or red but red is the rarest. The white ones are most common for eating. They are known to be a very friendly breed, and he is certainly demonstrating that! He loves to be held and petted. From my research I found that bunny manure is supposed to be the ultimate for gardens (not to mention much pleasanter than many types in form and perfume)! For now, he is coming in to "exercise" in the kitchen twice a day, and has already learned to use a litterbox indoors. I am composting his manure with the veggie compost and dried maple leaves twice a week. I am hoping to find/create an outdoor pen for him so he can be outside while I'm in the garden this summer.
Front yard update: Last week I got the asparagus planted, 10 crowns in 5 squares in a six-inch trench. When I see the tips come up, I will fill the bed up a bit higher. I planted a row of sweet peas behind the asparagus, since I can't pick it the first year anyway! I have the 2nd veggie bed leveled, lined with weed blocker, and mostly filled with my soil mix. I plan to finish mixing soil and fill the second bed, and then plant all my early spring crops this week. The cherry tree is budding and the plum tree is sending out green tips: leaves or buds I'm not sure yet. The rhubarb is looking great and the stalks are approaching usable size, although I'm supposed to leave it be the first year. The goldfish in the pond are still alive and look 3 times their petstore- size last summer! The four raspberries are starting to sprout, the blueberry looks healthy, and the strawberries are definitely rooted in their new bed and leafing out.
Back yard update: Hubby helped me remove some soil from the pea bed so I have room to add manure and compost before I plant. Need to get the peas in ASAP. The herb bed looks messy but healthy. The new rosemary made it through this mild winter - we loved our big rosemary that came with the house 8 years ago, but it died in the hard freeze last year. It looks like the garlic cloves that I left in the ground last winter are all coming up! The compost is in full swing and I'm using the ripe compost as I fill beds. The newest compost is now being fortified with Oscar's bunny manure. I am thinking of trying a melon or two in the flower bed against the south side of the house - some of the best reflected heat!
Indoors: The Brandywine and cherry tomatoes are over 6 inches tall so I potted them up from 4" pots to gallon pots. The Siletz and San Marzano tomatoes are starting to show true leaves, and Italian sweet peppers are now potted up from their toilet-tube starters into 4" pots. The kales are all doing great and I plan to plant them outside this week. The onion and lettuce starts are going strong and I am hardening them off outside too. I have 2 red potatoes and 2 baking potatoes from the organic grocery "chitting"on an egg carton, seeing if the sprouts will start to grow so I can plant them in pails this year. I don't want to have to buy a whole bunch of seed potatoes just to try a few. I picked up a packet of yellow dwarf French marigolds and started a bunch too: I have read that marigolds are good pest deterrents and are good near tomatoes. I plan to plant them intermingled in the veggie beds. I know from experience that they are also very easy to save seed from for next year - just leave a few flowers on the plants until the flower head is dead and dried up, then pull off and dry fully inside. The seeds are long and black and easy to separate. Many of my veggies are from last year's or saved seed. If you keep your seed packets in an air-tight container and in the frig, they will last several years. The germination rate may be poorer as they age, so just plant a few more seeds to guarantee the number of starts you need.
My Garden Stats
Location: 15 miles north of Seattle, WA (zone 8)
Last frost date: April 23rd
Front yard beds: 150 sq ft (full sun)
Back yard beds: 100 sq ft (half day sun)
Herbs 2010: about 10 varieties
Fruits 2010: 15 varieties
Veggies 2010: 23 varieties
Method: Mel Bartholomew's "All New Square Foot Gardening"