A Hail Mary Garden and More Chicken Questions

If you live in the Midwest I’m sure you are experiencing the same, never-ending amount of rain we have been having.  Winter’s cabin fever has a whole new meaning.  I feel like I should find Noah’s Ark or build one of our own!

A Hail Mary Garden
If you didn’t already know, I pretty much failed at gardening this year. But I heard about a local nursery and am so glad I went!

The garden is flooded, fields are flooded, everything is wet and flooded … Driving around I’m committing mass worm genocide with the things lying across the road.  Letting the dog out the ground squishes under our feet and thank goodness it was dark the last time so I didn’t know how many of those squishy things were worms (ok – I’ll admit; I don’t like worms!).

If you didn’t already know, I pretty much failed at gardening this year.  I’m sure a lot has to do with such wet conditions, but I feel responsible for my failures.

I had heard about a nursery in a nearby – small – town called “Red Barn Nursery” and had never visited, so I finally decided I was going to go.  And boy – was I blown away!  It’s not super big, but the prices, variety and quality were amazing in terms of their pepper and tomato plants!  So much so, that I may just rely on them in the future for these plants (even though I couldn’t help but buy more seeds from MIgardener during a sale!).

I had to restrain myself – like, a lot of restraint!  I wanted one of everything!

But the peppers I chose – one sweet, one mild/hot – had two per pack, and I knew we weren’t going to go through a ton of peppers.  I love pimento cheese – don’t know why, but it’s amazing.  Since pimento peppers are sweet, but small, I decided to try my hand at them as well as a “Tam Jalapeno“.  It said they were like jalapenos but not as hot; I like a little heat in dishes, like salsa, but Colton doesn’t, so I thought I’d be kind!

Then the tomato jungle!

It was seriously a jungle.  But it was so exciting!  Small tomatoes, large tomatoes, tomatoes of different colors, canning, fresh, beefsteak, cherry, purple, yellow … I may have gotten a bit too excited!

But finally I chose Roma, Amish Paste (because I “lost” it this year), Super Marzano Hybrid, and Pineapple tomatoes.  I like Roma’s fresh, though many use them like the Amish Paste for sauces and canning.  I find it a bit frustrating that smaller tomatoes are used for canning and bigger tomatoes are used for eating (because of pectin and usable fruit, versus seeds and “gel” that cooks out), but what do I know about tomatoes?  Nothing.  Only that I like them and since they come in different colors I had to try them!  The Super Marzano looked intriguing based on the description – “high in pectin that gives sauces and pastes natural thickness.”  Bingo.

And finally – a Pineapple tomato!  This may have been a part of my splurge purchase at MIgardener, so I figured maybe I better try it!  I don’t hold much hope that it will taste like pineapple (I LOVE pineapples!), but it will be interesting nonetheless!

Now – of course there’s a downside.

I broke two stems.  [Insert every sad emoji known to man kind].  One was fairly low, and the plants had already tried growing extra roots (tomatoes will grow roots along the entire stem if you let them), and since you bury tomatoes deep, I wasn’t too concerned, but still scared it won’t make it.  The other broken stem happened – of course – on the pineapple tomato.  It’s been a few days and it’s not looking great, but still somewhat holding on.  The break was right about at where it should have come out of the ground, so I buried it even deeper, hoping that it could fix itself and grow extra roots above the break, but we’ll see.

Rain.  And more rain.  In case you skipped the above paragraph I’m about ready to swim to work.  So are the tomatoes – and every other plant we’ve planted and has managed to germinate.  I’m not sure what plants really like this much water except for algae and water lilies.  We probably have tadpoles growing in the garden from the toad I’ve almost stepped on four times.

So if you’re in our area – please pray for the rain to let up so we can all dry out, get our gardens going properly, and hay cut for the horses.

For the chicken questions – they just keep rolling in!

We supposedly got all Barred Rock Pullets.  That means – Barred Rock females.  The other day Dad walked into the pen and heard a crow – so it’s official.  There are roosters.  We haven’t decided if we’re going to keep them to breed or butcher them.  After the last round of chicken from the store (insanely huge breasts and mediocre flavor) I would be interested to try home-grown chicken.

Something goofy to me may be normal – some birds have nice, red combs and others seem to have lighter/beige combs and waddles.  My Facebook group sources say that the bright red are the roosters and the dull ones are hens.  We might have more roosters than we bargained.  I don’t know if this is a blessing in disguise or just a disappointment because we thought we had all pullets/hens.  Considering how crazy things have been lately, and that we went from wanting 12-18 chickens to THIRTY, we might be glad to have a few roosters to cull!

Barred Rock Chickens
Some have nice, red combs and waddles, others have dull; sources say that the bright red is a rooster and the dull is a hen.

What are your experiences purchasing chicks from the store – did you get what you thought?  What about your tomato and pepper plants – tried any neat varieties?  Did you break any stems?  What was your luck?  Tell us in the comments below!


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