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I wrote a book about preserving food. The same step-by-step instruction and full-color photos you find in my blog. Buy it at Yes, You Can 

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Amazon.com is a terrific source for certified organic seeds intended for home sprouting. Dress up salads, stir-fry, sandwiches, spreads, and other dishes with homegrown sprouts of all kinds. Follow this link to order your sampler or to find home sprouting kits.

 

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Posts Tagged ‘rabbits’

Readying for Go in my Small Kitchen Garden

We got a little snow in early January, and later a second storm added several more inches. Rain at the end of the last snowfall turned it all into a four-inch layer of crust.

For nearly a month my small kitchen garden and all the land surrounding it has been covered in a four-inch thick iced-snow permafrost kind of thingy. There was snow, then there was rain, and then there was cold. For a while, the crust wouldn’t hold my dog’s weight and she was obviously distressed by it. Eventually, sunny but very cold days extended the crust through to the ground; we have been walking on ice.

Today, on the closing day of my seed giveaway, the temperature pushed above 40F degrees! That was enough to soften the ice cap all the way to the ground… and it was enough to bring the rabbits out of their holes. As Cocoa and I stepped out the door, we spotted one just beyond the blueberry scrubs at the edge of the yard.

Readying to Start Seeds in my Small Kitchen Garden

With rabbits out of their holes, it’s time for me to get my garden plans in line. I explained various seed-starting strategies and described my seed-starting shelf in a series of posts in February of 2010. For a thorough overview, visit each link listed in the box titled, Strategies for Starting Your Small Kitchen Garden… I’ve listed them in the order I posted them. Note that this year I’m not using peat pellets or peat pots on my seed-starting shelf.

What am I doing to prepare? I’ve four tasks:

1. Clear the seed-starting shelf—My larder is fuller this year than it was last year. That’s because I wrote a book about preserving garden produce, and I canned a lot more fruits and vegetables last year than I had in preceding years. So, with all the canned goods cluttering my shelves, it’ll take an hour or so to rearrange things and hang the light fixtures that will warm my planters and feed my seedlings.

With a light crust on the snow, Cocoa preferred to hunt rabbits from the safety of the sofa in front of the picture window. Today’s higher temperature loosened the snow pack, and finally Cocoa spotted her first rabbit of the year.

2. Collect seed- starting containers—I’m done with peat pellets, and I’m done with peat pots. This year I’m doing all my seed starts in cut-up plastic milk jugs. Reasons 1: Peat pellets are simple and convenient for starting seeds, but not so good for sustaining seedlings. Once a seedling’s roots fill the pellet, you must transplant to the garden, “pot-up” the seedlings, or fertilize them to keep them healthy. Reason 2: To start seeds in any kind of pot, you need soil as well… so I have to buy soil; I can reduce expenses by not buying pots.

3. Ordering seeds—Yikes! I’m on the late side for this little task. In fact, I’ve heard some popular vegetable seeds are already hard to find. I’m looking for a few varieties of heirloom tomatoes, and for brands of broccoli and cauliflower that perform better than what I planted last year. I’m also very tempted to start artichokes indoors, move them outdoors in April, and see whether I can harvest a few by season’s end.

4. Well… buy seed-starting soil—I have some left from last year, and the nursery where I shop won’t open until mid-March, so no hurry on this one.

 

 

 

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Sixty Rabbits from Your Small Kitchen Garden

I lack enthusiasm for weeding, so it might be hard to distinguish the food from the future compost in this photo. However, you can spot a spinach leaf in the foreground at the bottom of the frame under the rabbit’s eye; the rabbit is not eating it. This rabbit raised rabbit calves in my garden and left no evidence of munching on any of my vegetables.

How does this kitchen gardener amuse himself when his small kitchen garden is rock-hard frozen solid? For a day or two each year, he attends the Pennsylvania Farm Show. This year, he spent a lot of time among the rabbits. Rabbits?

Well… Your Small Kitchen Garden has quite a history with rabbits. In at least four of the sixteen springs I’ve grown produce in central Pennsylvania, rabbits have nested in my garden bed before I’ve started working it. Last spring I posted a photo of newborn rabbits I found while assessing my home kitchen garden.

Rabbits: Bane or Baloney?

Rabbits get bad raps from gardeners. I’m sure rabbits deserve their reputation, but I often speak in defense of the rabbits in my neighborhood. To begin, those rabbits are adorable. There are an awful lot of them, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to watch them in my yard and garden.

I have never seen a rabbit eat any of my produce. I’ve had mother rabbits raise their puppies inside my rabbit fence and I’ve watched them sit among young lettuce and spinach plants without taking a nibble. I once watched a mature rabbit rest on my spinach as it devoured the flower stalks from a dandelion plant growing alongside the spinach plants.

In one day a woodchuck did more damage to my garden than all the rabbits have done in 16 years. Still, I don’t trust rabbits, so I’m glad that my woodchuck fence keeps them out. This one spent many minutes circling the garden and peering through the fence… it was adorable and entertaining.

My carrot tops have succumbed to rodents—in a single afternoon, something cut the greens to half their original heights in an entire 14 foot long row. I assumed rabbits were the culprits until I caught a woodchuck in the act the next day.

A Salute to Rabbits

I’m sure rabbits do an enormous amount of damage in kitchen gardens the world over… they have probably damaged my garden. However, as I said, I’ve never seen them eat my produce so I have no animosity toward them. And, since I find rabbits adorable to look at, it was great sport to hang out among the rabbits at the Farm Show.

I’m also pleased to know several rabbit owners through social networking. With them in mind, and as acknowledgement for the role rabbits play in so many kitchen gardener’s lives, I put together a video titled Sixty Rabbits. Long-time readers of this blog might remember last year’s Sixty Chickens video; this one is quite similar. It runs about three and a half minutes. I hope you enjoy it:

 

 

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