Petite Inspirations

In the name of inspiration and all things interesting to me and hopefully you.

The Chicken Coop – Then and Now

I LOVE my chicken coop! I bought it from here.  I had them create a coop that was 8′ x 4′ x 6′ high, and had them add an external nesting box, 3 windows, 1 clean out door, 1 door i can walk through, and 1 small door for the chickens on the opposite side. I think it came out pretty good, although I would change one thing. I would remove 1 of the windows and make the clean out door as big as possible.

They came to my house and had it semi-assemble and then completely assembled it there. They were pretty fast setting it up! It was a father and son team. It was so endearing.

Mr. Wonderful and I just had to paint it ourselves. It really transformed it into something spectacular!!

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Here is the painted and installed coop right in the middle of our back yard, with my beautiful model, Honey. You’re probably asking, why would you put it in the middle of your yard?!, as did some folks did. Well, I have a couple of reasons. One, our city requires us to have it 20 feet from the property lines, so that didn’t leave me with much option, and two, I’m planning on having two separated runs connected to the coop. They’ll be able to graze on one run, while the other is out of bounds growing food for us. That’s the plan anyways.

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Front of the coop

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Back of the coop

 

This is the first time I let the chickens out of the coop to graze. They loved it and now complain when I don’t let them out! Sheesh. So I try to let them out for a couple of hours after I get home from work. I don’t want them out when I’m not there because we have tons of haws around our area.

This area will become my vegetable garden, segregated from the rest of our yard by the black fencing we bought at the big box store. I really wished they sold them in white, but they will do just fine. You can see the pink out line of string I used to figure out where my beds will be. It will be glooooorious!

 

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Inside the garden area.

I’ve placed some potted trees around the coop to help shade the girls during the day. I’m still debating on what kind of permanent trees I want around the coop. I’m thinking a big avocado tree around the front, to help shade the top of the coop from the hot afternoon sun.

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Front of the coop and Honey making sure the girls are doing ok.

 

 

Any suggestion on the type of tree/plant to shade the coop?

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My Lazy Attemp at Hugelkultur

Occasionally, I get really inspired (or crazy as Mr. Wonderful might call it) to just stop what I’m doing and start a new project. I’ve been reading a lot about hugelkultur lately and decided to attempt it. It really was a half assed attempt to tell you the truth. I just dug a hole, threw some wood that was from a tree we cleared from the lawn, piled smaller branches and uncompleted compost from the compost bin and finally, topped it off with some compost I bought from Home Depot that was on sale. Thinking about it, I don’t think it was compost, more like amending stuff for the soil. Anyways, we’ll see how it turns out.

The hole I dug was about 6 inches deep. Honey is inspecting my job. I think she approves. I forgot to take a picture of the firewood underneath the unfinished compost that you see.

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This is with the amending soil on top of the unfinished compost. It looks exactly like a raised bed!

 

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Mr. Wonderful suggested I put the extra wood we had around the bed to help Honey from walking on it. It seems to be working, but now instead of walking on it, she eats the dirt that she can reach from the sides. So far it seems to be working well. Only time will tell.

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The idea behind Hugelkulture is pretty much like a huge compost pile. Over time, it will break down and provide a lot of nutrients for the plants on top. Mind you, mine is the lazy mans version, so I don’t know how effective it will be or if I even did it right. As far as I see it, it doesn’t hurt to put compost or unfinished compost underneath what you are planting. It just takes more time for it to decompose to provide the nutrients.

Easter Chicks

For about 3 years now, I have been dreaming of owning chickens. They provide fresh eggs, they help till the garden and eat the bugs while at it, and provide fertilizer. My dream has finally come true this past weekend and it so happened to be Easter. Hallelujah!!

The chicks I bought are actually pullets or the teenager versions of a chicken. I wanted them old enough to not need a heat lamp (chicks are too much work for my taste!). There are so much breeds to choose from. Originally,  I wanted a barred rock, but the breeder only had 2 week old chicks. Those are way too young and need so much attention, which I can not provide right now. They only had a few breeds that met my criteria, old enough to not need a heat lamp and be hens, no roosters allowed in my city. I wouldn’t want them anyways waking me up at the crack of dawn or even before that, crowing to let everyone know ‘it’s early and you should get up’! I have enough of some sort of tiny birds on my patio, that chirp like they’re debating loudly at each other, every morning.

So the breeds we bought are, 1 black and 1 white australorp, and a welsummer. The 2 australorps lay brown eggs, while the welsummer lays dark brown or sometimes speckled eggs. I can’t wait to see them eggs! I think these pullets are about 15 weeks, but I have to call the breeder and double check. I’m hoping to get eggs in the next couple months or so. We’ll see.

Here they are in action! Well, not much action, but they are so fun to watch. I’m going to try to handle them everyday so they won’t be so afraid around me. Speaking of training, Honey had her share yesterday. My goal is to have her off leash around the coop without running around and scaring the chicks.

 

Albondigas Soup

It was a bit cold in the evenings a few weeks ago and Mr. Wonderful wanted some soup to warm up, so I decided to make Albondigas (Meatball) soup again. This recipe is adapted from here. The key is fresh herbs from the garden and great broth! This version has no bread crumbs which still works great and is gluten-free!

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup cooked rice
salt to taste
1 pound ground beef
2 eggs
1 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
1/4 + 1/4 cup fresh oregano, minced
1/4 + 3/4 cup onions, chopped (divided)
1/2cup minced fresh cilantro
1/4 – 1/2 cup of oil (i used grape seed oil)
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 – 15oz can diced tomatoes
3 quarts beef broth
2 cups chayote, cubed
1 1/2 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper2 Limes, wedges

 

Prepare the meatballs: Mix first 5 ingredients, 1/4 cup oregano, 1/4 cup onions, and  1/4 cup cilantro in a bowl and make 1″ meatballs. You can stick them in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden them up a bit if they’re too mushy, but if you work quickly, you can heat up your dutch oven while your making the meatballs and toss them to pan fry it with a bit of oil on medium high heat. Brown on all sides. It’s not necessary to make sure the insides aren’t pink because you will be cooking it in the soup later. Do this in 2 or 3 batches, you don’t want to overcrowd your pan because they won’t brown properly. The brown crispy bits when frying will give the soup a really good flavor!

Tip: I pan fry a small sample of the meat and try it to see if there is enough seasoning and adjust accordingly, before frying all the meatballs.

When all the meatballs are done, reserve some of the drippings from the pot and add the rest of the onions, carrots, and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions are see through, then add the tomatoes, broth, and the rest of the oregano. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add the chayote,  meatballs, salt and pepper. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the chayote is fork tender. Take a taste of the soup and adjust with salt and pepper.

Serve with cilantro and lime. Enjoy and warm up.

Tips:
I like using chayote because it has a neutral flavor and picks up the flavor of the soup nicely without overpowering any of it’s flavor to the soup. If you don’t have chayote, use any other summer squash you like.

Double the batch of  meatballs to save time the second time around,  for another quick  fix of this awesome soup. Lay the second batch of meatballs separately on a cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer. After a few hours (when it’s frozen), I seal them up in a ziplock.

 

April Update

Here are some of the things going on in the garden. Mr. Wonderful and I went to LA about a month ago to visit Centrose Nursery in Gardena, CA. I heard about it from a YouTube channel I subscribe to:  Growing your Greens, with John Kohler. His site is where I also first heard of tree collards and that’s the reason why we went to this nursery in Gardena. We purchased the two varieties of collards, green and purple. They said the difference was that one was milder tasting. I believe the green is the milder one if I’m not mistaken.

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Tree collard, green vaiety

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Purple variety of tree collard.

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Okinawan Spinach or AKA Cholesterol lowering plant

The Okinawan spinach is supposedly an aid to lower cholesterol. We decided to purchase this for Mr. Wonderfuls’ dad. I’ll grow them this summer and give it to him when they’re a lot bigger. The seem to be liking their new pot and thriving in an area in the yard that receives about about 4-5 hours of sun.  I tried a couple of leaves and it was mild and not bitter at all. I really can’t tell what it tastes similar to though.

 

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Nasturtium – Spitfire

 

 

 

 

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Kale – Lacinato and Red Russian

This is the first time I’ve planted my kale in the ground. Usually, I’ve just planted them in containers. I had extra seedlings and wanted to see if the would grow in our not so rich soil. They seem to be liking it, although I did mix in some compost in the ground before planting them. If you notice, there are about 3 growing (2 red russians, and 1 lacinato). I know it’s a bit crowded but I really didn’t want to thin them out. They seem to be doing ok, even with scarlet runner beans growing behind them. This is my experimental bed anyways. We’ll see what works and doesn’t.

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I’m finally using my potato sack for….potatoes! This is my first time growing potatoes! I’m so excited!! They seem to be doing well. You can see some dark leaves poking out of the ground. I’ll add more compost on top of the leaves when they’re taller. That supposedly helps more potatoes grow.

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My cymbidiums are in bloom! So pretty and but so diseased! grrrr.. They have black spots growing on some of the leaves and now the flowers have something that’s eating them up slowing and turning the edges brown. Any suggestions are welcomed!!!

How’s your garden growing?

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