Theme Preview Rss

Deal of the Century

A few days ago Tine and I decided to go to a feed store to see what we could find for bulk rabbit feed. After traveling to the same store we purchased our bale of hay from a week and half ago we bought a fifty pound bag of food for only $12.23! We were thrilled.

Big bag. Big money savings. Happy rabbits.

Until now we had been purchasing ten pound bags of rabbit feed from Wal-Mart for just under $10 per bag. Now, instead of paying about $1 for one pound of feed we are paying around $0.25. Again, we are thrilled.

Village of the Rabbits

Today we finished building the hutches for Toby, Girl and Miura! They now have two 3' x 2' x 2' homes to (hopefully) raise their forthcoming rabbit families. Now that the hutches are complete our next step will be to build the much smaller nesting boxes.

Tine posing behind the first of two new hutches.

Taylor adding one of the hinges to a hutch (for easy viewing of the rabbits and kits).

In addition to the hutches we also added a 44" tall support post to the center of the rabbit pen. This post was placed primarily for our benefit as it adds about a foot of head room to the center of the pen. However, it also seems to have added just a touch more support to our already incredibly secure pen.
Tine sitting between the new support post and a hutch.

Rabbit Village officially up and running.


Today, following a field trip to Manasota Beach with Tine's Conservation Biology class (where we met an invasive species iguana hunter), we began building the hutches for our rabbit pen.

Mr. Dennis provided us with some old plywood (in perfect condition) that he had out in the tool shed. There are around a dozen sheets, which we plan on utilizing for the chicken coops and nesting boxes, in addition to the rabbit hutches.

Taylor had an absolute blast playing around with the power tools. We had a rough idea as to what we were doing, but a lot of it was experimenting to figure out the basics.

All of the cut pieces came out very well. We still haven't actually assembled everything (we need some different size pieces of wood to brace the corners), but it should all be finished tomorrow.

Camping out

So last night was a wonderful cool evening. I got out of class at 10 pm, and Taylor decided that we should camp out in the backyard next to the rabbits. We've been curious as to what sorts of critters might visit in the night.

We chose the bigger of our two tents because this one has a screen door that we could use to peer through at the bunnies.

From what we could tell, there weren't very many critters visiting throughout the night, except for some rain drops. I think the tent will stay up a few more days, so perhaps we'll try it again.


After a very rainy yesterday we are starting to see quite a bit of new growth in our garden. Each bed was thoroughly soaked - exactly what it needed - and today we have begun to see the many benefits. Not only are the radishes continuing to grow steadily, we now have thirty or so limas showing and nearly a dozen sprouts of corn as well. We are so happy to watch all of this progress!

Radishes continuing to thrive... can't wait for baked radish chips!

Corn just beginning to show...

So many lima beans, so little time.

Garden Creepy Crawlies

One of my favorite things about gardening is that it forces us to get out to the backyard at least once or twice a day. Oftentimes we get to see things we never would have otherwise noticed. We've probably seen a half dozen black racer snakes, and yesterday stumbled upon this beautiful corn snake.

We've decided to hold on for it for a little while. Neither Taylor nor I are particularly keen on having a pet snake, especially a wild-caught one, but we think it will be interesting to watch for a little while, and to feed. It's very active, not calm like most snakes I've handled, but it isn't terribly aggressive. We'll probably keep it for a week or two, and then return it to it's natural home.

On a side note, we are somewhat concerned with the snakes around here getting into our rabbit pens. There are not any snakes large enough to harm the adults (save for invasive Burmese pythons, but I'm not sure we need to worry about that in our particular locale) but a corn snake could probably go after a young rabbit kit. Even if it couldn't swallow it, it surely could strangle them. Our cage is mostly animal-proof, but a snake could slip in through the chicken wire fairly easily. I wonder if an adult rabbit would prevent a snake from getting to the young?

Radish seedlings!

Radishes are the gardener's instant gratification. They germinate faster than even corn and beans, and are ready to harvest in three weeks. Less than one day after planting three rows of radish seeds, we had little seedlings popping up out of the soil.

For seeds from Ebay, the percent that germinated was really high.

Holy cow, right? That's awesome. We plan on making radish chips out of these, by slicing them super thin, sprinkling them with some salt, and baking them.

Because we directly seeded these guys, we had to thin them quite a bit.

We're trying to keep a closed system in our garden, so we're feeding our "scraps" to the rabbits (and soon chickens). In turn, we get meat and manure. You can't beat that.

Busy day in Sarasota...

Actually, it is an incredibly busy day here as Tine begins her first day of classes. With any luck we will be picking up another cubic yard of top soil for our two remaining beds later this afternoon. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from Tine's previous garden in Oviedo and some of the excellent veggies it produced.

Speckled Bibb Lettuce

Heirloom Collards

Green Peppers

Some more garden updates

So we've got some seedlings tucked into the beds, nestled in some straw.

A squash seedling sprawling out over the mulch.

The mulch is a great thing in our garden. Not only does it prevent weeds by creating both a physical barrier and by keeping seeds from seeing light, it also holds in moisture, which is great in this hot Florida weather. The hay was cheap (we're talking six bucks for a huge bale of it), and also performs double duty as rabbit bedding/something to nibble on.

They love romping around and chewing on this stuff.

Still pretty busy, but look what we've accomplished!

Today was a whirlwind of activity. At 7:20 we crawled out of bed and into our work clothes for a day of errands. The first stop wast to pick up one cubic yard of topsoil from a local landscape supply shop for $21, and then back on the road to a feed store. For another $6, we got a bale of mulching hay. Then, the most exciting stop of the day:

Shoveling horse poop! My roommate happens to have a beautiful horse named Jackie, who produces tons of this every day. We shoveled three huge garbage bags full of the stuff.

Then after a brief stop at Home Depot for some peat moss, we returned home to assemble the beds.

We filled them about a two thirds full of top soil, and worked in some of the manure and peat moss. Then we topped them off with a bit of mulching hay, and watered them down really well.

We ran out of soil after the second bed, so we need to go get more on Monday.

Our next project was to create a little area for growing timothy hay for the rabbits, and to plant some corn (the other beds don't get quite enough sun).

We added a bit of manure and some peat moss, but haven't really improved the soil as much as we need to. Perhaps we'll sprinkle some compost or rabbit manure on it to improve some things.

Everything is going well here! Still tons of work, but at least we accomplished this much.

So busy around here

Our to-do list is just piling up around here. Tomorrow we have to:

Plant timothy hay
Pick up a load of topsoil
Visit my roommate's house for some cow manure
Go to Home Depot to get some peat moss/other soil amendments
Plant seedlings/more seeds
Work on trimming some branches

We've decided that in order to have our crops do really well, they're going to need a little bit more sunlight than our little nook can offer. After checking it over, we were told we could definitely trim up a few of the branches. Today we knocked out some low-hanging ones on one side, and tomorrow we're hoping to get a few more.

At around noon most of the area is in full sun, but when the sun is directly overhead, most of the area is in partial shade. Not good for sun-lovers like tomatoes, corn, and beans.

We figure we'll trim a bit, piece-by-piece so that we don't take out more than we need to. Our goal here is sustainability, and not harming anything.

Bunny pen

So, we got our new rabbits, and they're doing great. We kept them for a day in some tupperware storage bins, which were way to tiny for the guys, and got a quick start on their pen. This 75 square foot pen made for some very happy bunnies (especially Toby, who couldn't believe his luck with the ladies).

We've made some modifications since these pictures were taken. We've reinforced the sides, top, and put smaller poultry mesh around the perimeter. Once we have baby rabbits, we don't want them to slip out of the pen. The whole contraption seems pretty darn animal-proof

We throw a tarp over one half of the pen to help shelter them from the rain as well, and we're working on building little hutches for them to crawl into. The ladies will especially need this once they begin nesting, which we hope will occur in the next couple of weeks. We plan on having our first litters in about a month.

For those of you that have never seen rabbits raised like this (in a community, rather than individual hutches), it's kind of an experiment based on other's experiences that we've read about. Generally, rabbits don't do well in groups--- women fight, bucks fight, etc. However, in a larger space, and with individual "homes" such as the hutches we plan on implementing, things can work out well, and the rabbits can be much happier than in individual wire cages. So far we're seeing plenty of luck. They girl bunnies love hanging out with each other, and besides occasionally pestering the girls for some tail, Toby is doing just fine in with the ladies. Our only concern at the moment is mosquitoes, and we're trying to find a solution for that.

New Additions - Tobey, Miura and Girl

In addition to our new garden Tine and I have quickly begun diversifying - today in the form of rabbits and rabbit breeding. We recently purchased three new rabbits - two females (Miura and Girl, two six month old New Zealand sisters) and Tobey (a six month old New Zealand with 1/16th Flemish Giant, unrelated to the girls). We plan on building a pen outdoors for these three new rabbits in the hopes of breeding them very soon. With any luck (and if Tobey gets his way) we will have some new kits in about a month. Four months or so from then we should have rabbits large enough for meat and furs!

Here we have Girl (named by our young friend and neighbor Seleighna) in front of the very pretty Miura.

A closer shot of Miura...

And last but not least the very, very large male - Tobey.

Starting Point

Well we are almost all moved to Sarasota – two thirds of the seedlings are here and the rest should arrive at noon tomorrow with Christine. In the meantime, below are a few pictures of what will soon be our garden. At the moment we have the right area, the beginning of the raised beds, the seedlings... now we just need to put it all together. Yes, it will be mowed (hopefully tomorrow morning before Tine arrives) but we wanted to show the beds and the location before the gardening overhaul/transformation takes place (that and I ran out of daylight to mow it today).

It was a little shady when the picture was taken - but that changes drastically depending on the time of day.

This will soon be our new garden!


I'm normally not a huge fan of lawn ornaments. My mom picked up these glass mushroom from Costco to grace her garden and I love them. The glass is so multi-faceted, with all kinds of crazy colors shining through the different layers.

They remind me of mushroom hunting for boletes in the summer after rainstorms.

Natural pesticide

I'm so glad that there are now an abundance of resources about organic gardening. Our outdated bookshelf still contains plenty of old gardening books that basically worship pesticides and fertilizers, which pretty much contradicts everything I'm reading in gardening books today, focusing on organic growing.

My mom has some rose bushes that over the past month have been sucked dry by aphids, green teeny flecks-of-an-insect that suck on the stems of plants, gaining nutrients for themselves, but depriving plants of food. My mom tried some natural remedies, like soapy water and rubbing alcohol, but nothing could get rid of these fleets of aphids.

So we tried something else.

We called in the troops! For $9.99 we purchased 10,000 ladybugs, which we released on our screened-in patio. A few days later, there were no aphids to be found! This little group of ladybugs found a dark home under the glass of a table.

It's been a couple of weeks, and there are still plenty of ladybugs around. Remarkably, there are still plenty of spiders hanging out on the rosebushes. These spiders would probably be dead had we used pesticide sprays, but instead, they're still around catching other pesky insects.

Moving day

Taylor and his buddy Will came to town yesterday evening from South Carolina. They hung out for a day. Taylor was very happy to finally see all of the seedlings in person. They're starting to get really big, and need to be planted soon. I'm hopefully going back to school on the 17th, and that's when we'll prepare the beds and get the set in.

Some of them are so top-heavy they're knocking over the cups they're in. Next time we plant, we're definitely going to buy more seed trays.

We loaded them up into the car, and they're now on a two-and-a-half hour drive to their new home. Four more days, and they'll be planted.

Let's hope he drives carefully.

Current reading

I"m currently reading How To Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons. This book's been around for a couple of decades, and has been published in several different languages, too.

It focuses on the Grow Biointensive method, which is kind of like super-organized wide-row planting. It promotes organic farming too, which is awesome. With sections on composting, starting seeds, and maintaining a balanced ecosystem in the backyard, it's a drastic change from the other gardening guides I have that display charts for fertilizer mixes, and suggested pesticides for various crops (some are actually published by various fertilizer and pesticide companies, like the Ortho book I found on the bookshelf here).

I love the cover of the book too. It inspired those watercolors I posted a few days back.

The book also seems like it can grow along with the gardener, with some great basic information for the beginner, and more complicated charts and graphs for those experienced gardeners trying to calculate yields and analyze soil composition.

I really love this book, and it's going to be a couple of years before I can really use all of the information inside. I got it at Borders ($19.00, but I used a coupon and got it for less), but there's a bunch of copies on Amazon for less than that.

An unexpected harvest

This past summer, Taylor and I had a garden at my home in Oviedo. We lived more than two hours away, so it was a bit of a challenge. We set up an automatic timer to water the garden, and would come home every other weekend or so to do some damage-control. Things worked well for a little while, but eventually the weeds just took over. In Florida, weeds can grow a few feet tall in a week or so, if you're not careful. We eventually gave up on the long-distance gardening experiment. We let the weeds take over (there was no point in setting down a cover crop. We were simply admitting defeat).

Yesterday afternoon I wandered out there to see what things were like. Of course I found three-foot-tall weeds, but I also found a hidden pepper plant or two, still doing great. I had to pull apart a net of weeds to even see the poor little guys, but there were a bunch of peppers hiding down there.

I found two teeny bell peppers, and a dozen jalapenos and banana peppers.

I wound up putting the bell peppers in a soup, and unloading most of the other ones on a neighbor across the street. He's a capsaisin fanatic, and it's always good to be responsible for his fix.

Something exciting in the mail

Yesterday, something exciting came to us via USPS---- our Wintersown SASE seeds! You can see this post to read more about what that is.

Pretty exciting! I couldn't wait to open it.

Inside was a bounty of heirloom seeds. All we asked for, and more.

Apricot Brandywine
Black Cherry
Purple Tomatillo
Green Zebra
Italian Salad Blend
Ornamental Mixed Gourds
Luther Burbank's Wonderberries

I'm really excited about the Wonderberries, which are also known as Sunberries or Garden Huckleberries.

Supposedly they're not very sweet, but have a very-berry flavor that's wonderful for jams, preserves, and pies. The growing requirements are somewhat like tomatoes, but less picky.

We won't be starting these seeds for a few months, but we're excited to have them.

Some gardening watercolors

My mom loves crafting (so do I, but not nearly as much). To get her fix, she has an entire room devoted to scrapbooking, beading, cardmaking, and all sorts of other things. Normally she tries to con me into doing something up there with her whenever she retreats into her crafting abode. Yesterday, inspired by the cover of How To Grow More Vegetables, I tried my hand at watercolor painting.

I actually didn't have watercolors, so I tried these new watercolor crayons.

And my favorite, the grain.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with these. Maybe put them on the covers of my notebooks once school starts?

Seedlings! Yet again!

Another batch of seedlings are up! The seedling tray with the cover worked great for keeping a steady environment inside, but the seedlings quickly grew too tall for the cover.

I just love baby plants. Everything germinated really well, too. There were maybe two or three cells that didn't come up.

I think I started some of these a little soon though. They'll have been in those Dixie cups for almost a month by the time they get planted. I'm sure it'll be fine in the end.

Some things we're going to directly sow into the garden, like the radishes and some beans/peas. Oh, and that Seminole Pumpkin? All six of the ones I planted came up, which is exciting.

The red cabbage seedlings look just lovely, too.

Sketchy leek seeds

So item number three ordered off Ebay: a package of leek seeds.

Again, gotta love the free shipping.

I think it looks a little bit sketchy, but then again, I suppose they could be saved seeds (even though the seller never said anything of the sort). I haven't tested any to see what kind of a germination rate we have. With my first ebay purchase, all six radish seeds I tried out came up in less than 24 hours, so hopefully I'll have as good luck with these guys when the weather gets a little bit cooler.