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Happy Anniversary!

May 31st, 2013

Yesterday, Mr Chiots and I celebrated out 15th wedding anniversary. Well, celebrate is a strong word. We actually just went about our usual business, celebrations are not really our thing. Even though I’m the one that writes all the posts and takes most of the photos, Mr Chiots is a big part of this blog and puts in lots of hours. Case in point, many of you probably couldn’t get to the website last night or this morning. Our web hosting company moved our sites to a new server and messed everything up. Thankfully, Mr Chiots knows what he’s doing and spent many hours on the phone and chatting with the company trying to get things fixed (amazing when he knows more than the company we’re paying to manage our server).
brian & susy (1)
Anyways, a big thanks to Mr Chiots for dealing with all the behind the scenes parts of the blog and podcast to keep things running as smoothly as they can. If we hadn’t married 15 years ago, this blog would not exist – so I suppose our anniversary is a rather important thing for Chiot’s Run!

Worms, Worms, Worms

May 30th, 2013

Back in Ohio, the earthworm population in our garden was just starting to grow thanks to our organic gardening methods and our use of leaf mulch each fall.  Each year, I would still purchase Encapsulated Earthworm Cocoons to increase the worm populations. Last year I had a container that never got planted, they made the trip with us in a box with the rest of our fridge contents.
worm cacoons 2
I planted them on Tuesday. This is a great way to jump start the worm population in your garden if you’re bringing it back from the dead and increasing soil fertility.

Other things you can do to help increase the worm populations:

  • mulch with leaf litter each fall
  • don’t till or work the soil
  • avoid chemical fertilizers and herbicides at all costs
  • trench compost your kitchen scraps

worm cacoons 1
We seem to have a decent worm population here, though the chickens eat their share of them. No doubt the more we start mulching with chopped leaves and the longer the soil goes without too much tilling/working, the more robust the earthworm population will be. They are such valuable assets in the garden, well worth the effort to encourage them!

Do you notice lots of worms in your garden?

Fill-Er-Up

May 29th, 2013

This is the sixth installment in the 5×5 Garden Challenge Series. Every Wednesday I’ll be posting about the challenge, covering topics that will help all the new gardeners get started. If you haven’t heard about the challenge head on over to the 5×5 Challenge Website, we’ll also be putting up a page here that pulls in all the 5×5 Challenge posts.
5x5 garden challenge
Last night things had dried out enough for me to fill up the 5×5 Challenge Garden in the front yard. I didn’t bother with any special raised bed mix. In the past when I had raised beds, I used Mel’s Mix from Square Foot Gardening. I wasn’t happy with the mix and found that simply adding a sandy loam soil to a raised bed worked best. It retains moisture better and my plants grew much better in real soil.
5x5challenge garden 1
As you can see my garden helper was on hand to survey my work and make sure I was doing it properly.
5x5challenge garden 2
After filling it up, I had grand plans of planting all my seeds. It’s finally warm enough here to not worry too much about frost. Then the mosquitos started buzzing in my ear.
5x5challenge garden 3
I’ll get the entire garden planted tomorrow, following my handy planned out guide of course. It sure is nice to finally be planting something. I can’t wait to see how well everything does, will we have any seeds germinating already by next week?

When’s your last frost date?  Have you planted your heat loving crops in the garden yet? 

Soaking up the Sun

May 28th, 2013

Last week, we had a straight week of rainy, cool weather. The total rain amount for the week was 6 inches. It was OK for the first few days, then it started to get a little miserable. Everyone was miserable, the chickens, the pigs, the chicks, the dog and the cats. The ducks however, were in seventh heaven!
pigs at work 1
pigs at work 2
Thankfully, yesterday the sun came out. Everyone was happy: the chicks frolicked in the front yard, the pigs enjoyed their new garden space, I mowed and weeded all day, Mr Chiots mowed and built a few things in the garage, the chiots basked in the sunny spot on the lawn and Dexter spent all day hunting tiny rodents.
chicks in the grass
A day of sunshine after so much rain is appreciated more deeply than other sunny days. It’s kind of like taking a hot shower at home after you’ve been backpacking for a week!

What’s the weather like in your garden?

Cultivate Simple 31: Five Things

May 27th, 2013

Today we discuss the 5 things that would we like to learn next. We are always learning about new skills or topics that interest us. Our attitude is, “If they can do it, so can we!”

Brian’s Five Things

  • Welding
  • Small Engine Repair
  • Cider/Beer Brewing
  • Horse Back Riding
  • Sailing

Susy’s Five Things

  • Making Silage
  • Traditional European Butchery
  • Keeping a Dairy Cow
  • Mushroom Foraging
  • Laying Hedgerows

Brian’s Geeky Corner

Use Skitch to capture and annotate screen shots. These can be automatically uploaded to Evernote. This is handy when you want to save a receipt or a snippet of a website, like a recipe.

Google Sketchup of Chicken Nesting Boxes

Books of the Week

Brain Pickings Blog, one of my favorites.

What are your Five Things?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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