Growth In Spite of the Neglect

The winter garden, or what is left after some neglect, is eeking through the season.  The sun almost completely leaves our back yard around the end of December and then slowly starts to show itself again.  I’ve actually tried reflectors and things to get more light on the garden, but I mainly end up annoying myself and probably the neighbors.  The plants that started growing during the fall just kind of… pause… then resume growing when they have decent light to do it.

A couple of the plants didn’t get the memo.  Instead of “pausing”, they decided to leapfrog the whole process and bolt.  I can’t understand that.  Of course it was on the bok choi and the Chinese cabbage, two things that I haven’t tried before.  I cut the tops off and fed them to the chickens, who were very grateful for a very brief period of time.


My free range chickens are giving me some heartburn.  I like the fact that they can go wherever they please in our back yard.  I like the fact that they eat the bugs that they can find.  And I even like the fact that the kids can go out and play with them when they get a break from homeschooling (my youngest was trying to get them to pose last weekend so he could take a picture of them with his DS).

What I don’t like is the mess and by mess I mean, “WOW, WHAT one EARTH happened to the back porch!? “  It appears that the porch is a great place to… relieve yourself… if you’re a chicken.

Come to think of it I think out chickens are suffering from a sense of entitlement as well.  Not only do they like being on the porch, but they really like to stand there, looking into the window, and squawking as loud as possible.  You can feed them, give them fresh water, fresh scratch, even  some greens, and in ten minutes they will be back looking in the window with their heads slightly tilted.  Just staring… and squawking.

I’m sure there is a horror story there somewhere, some barnyard version of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.


In any case I have a lot of clean up to do this weekend and I need to get some seeds started for spring.  I have 4 of my needed 12 ollas, along with an extensive collection of wine bottles.  I’m hoping to collect at least two more of the nice ollas, that will give me enough for two of the 4 x 8 beds.

And my Jerusalem artichokes should be here any time…


Several of the broccoli have “paused”, but a couple were more in the light and are starting to head.


Sorry for the dark picture, I tried to improve it, but… yah, I’m not great at the photo editing stuff.  But this is my big artichoke plant.  I’ve got a couple of other smaller ones that I am going to sneak into my front yard landscaping.


This is the red Russian kale.  It doesn’t seem to care that it has been out of direct light for months now.  Low light, no problem.  Kind of strange, but it has taken off like crazy.  Had some in a smoothie this morning.  Yummy!


Blurry picture trying to lean over the chicken wire and take it.  The purple/red stuff is red romaine.  Again, it’s been out of the light for quite a while, but some of it is close to being ready.


The peas are looking okay.  Haven’t gotten more than a handful yet and none actually made it into the house… ahem… but I’m still holding out hope that we’ll get some.  The chickens have been doing their best to get at them through the fence.  Just one more reason the ladies are going to get locked back up.  It’s kind of sad, but… necessary I think.  They have abundant room in their run, but I think they’ll squawk up a storm about being confined.  Of course they are squawking anyway, so no real change there.

Anybody getting ready for spring?

This entry was posted in Arizona Garden, Bok Choi, broccoli, Chickens, Chinese cabbage, fall garden, Jerusalem artichokes, ollas, Red Russian Kale, Romaine, square foot gardening, wine bottle ollas. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Growth In Spite of the Neglect

  1. FreeRangeCow says:

    I might get a heavy thing dropped on my head, but I am not, as of yet, ready for spring. ;o)

  2. Me (jumps up and down waving hands like a loon). I’m getting ready for spring. Got seeds sown and beds covered with cardboard to warm them AND I’ve got tomato seedlings already ….. 8 of them 🙂

    Your garden is looking pretty good considering your lack of sunshine 🙂

    • That’s great! Sprouting seeds are one of my favorite things.

      Considering the shade and the fact that I have neglected the watering on numerous occasions… and our local dove population thinks I’m growing a salad bar for them… I think it looks surprisingly good.

  3. kellymcmichaelMichael says:

    wow, you must be someplace warm! I haven’t seen anything green in months. We are all browns and grays here in North Texas.

  4. Wenz World says:

    (Sigh…) It is so cold, dreary, and at times, snowy in the Northeast….looking very forward to Spring! To me, your garden looks awesome!

  5. lostinmist says:

    Oh no, jerusalem artichokes! I hear they invade everything and are impossible to get rid of.

  6. valbjerke says:

    Ah yes – kale – I grow a LOT of kale because it grows regardless of whatever weather gets thrown at it – a good thing in my neck of the woods. Still – I have to watch I don’t wind up with a kale shrub farm – a couple of years ago things got out of hand – couldn’t dehydrate or freeze it fast enough. My boss dropped by late one afternoon – while he and the hubby were wandering about the property shooting the breeze I hit on the idea of ‘donating’ some kale, grabbed a hatchet and chop chop chop – managed in the next hour to pink panther the box of his truck full of the stuff. I then managed a nifty sleight of hand by distracting him with a bag of fresh carrots, a couple of jars of pickled hot peppers and a jar of strawberry jalapeño jam. 😄 I got a call an hour later from his wife, wanting to know what it was and what she was supposed to do with the stuff. Seems she’d never heard of kale. I have to give the boss A for effort – for the next several months every lunch he brought to work – soup, sandwich, casserole, whatever – had kale in it. 😊

    • Hahaha! That’s classic. Have you ever made a sour kraut with it? I don’t have THAT much, but I thought I might be able to get a couple of quarts. I’m kind of curious how it will handle heat.

      • valbjerke says:

        It tends to droop a bit in the heat – I just water late in the day. Haven’t tried kraut – but have tried most everything else. You might have a go at kale chips – many people swear these are the best – I tried them 😳 maybe just not my kind of snack. Other than that I blanch and freeze like spinach and toss in lasagne, dehydrate and use as a binder in hamburgers and meatloaf, chop and toss in home made wonton soup. I also top dress chicken feed with the dehydrated stuff – the chickens love it.
        Just google ‘making kale chips’ the recipe is easy.

  7. Farmgirl says:

    All that fresh produce right now! You are lucky! And we have to watch our step on our porch too..

    • It’s beautiful in AZ eight months out of the year. Four months you can go outside but you don’t want to (unless you are running to a pool). Of course you don’t have to shovel heat. That is definitely a perk.

  8. Sheri Fox says:

    Your posts crack me up. Nice to see things taking care of themselves for a little while! Kale is great for shady spots. Hopefully you can nurture it through the hot AZ spring and summer.

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