The Summer Jungle

Posted on August 6, 2014

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The summer garden has flourished and failed all in one swoop. It’s when the grasses creep back in, making the most rabbit food for the several litters that always come within a few days of each other because we forget that it’s sometimes a good idea to stagger the litters – then again, if we need to foster some from a larger litter or an abandon one over to another mom, it’s great to have a great big friendly rabbit mom who is willing to nurse any baby you put to her teats. Hubs joked this morning we could put a baby pig in with 87 and she’d have nursed it (we haven’t named the Silver Fox rabbits a friend traded with us yet, though they’re both excellent mothers and 87 and DD are their tattoos in their ears from being purebreds).

Sweet potatoes are spreading and the true roselle has finally started to raise its Christmasey stalk up to the sky. Our eggplants never made it into the ground on time, so we’re hoping they can catch up before Autumn peeks its chilly eyes around the corner. Hubs has an obsession with the jerusalem artichoke and so they are taking up spaces in beds that I’d like to have lettuce – the probably 20 different varieties of lettuce that we have and never have enough room to plant out – or tomatoes – the far too many varieties that definitely never get their fair share of space. Yams have officially taken over the side yard and we spy tiny bulbils forming on the dioscorea batatas and the dioscorea bulbifera (edible variety).

We have doubled up meat raising in the poultry department with charity by paying for food that feeds egg layers alongside the feed for meat birds. The eggs then are donated to a local charity to feed others and we have access to space that raises meat birds that we don’t have enough space for on our postage stamp of a 1/10 acre lot. Despite the higher cost of the meat, the taste and the ethics seem well worth the extra bit of cash. Our last batch of birds cost us $12 per bird, at what we think ended up being an average size of 3.5 lbs and probably a fourth to a third of that cost was paying for egg-layer feed. I’ve seen more expensive feed lot meat that I’d feel much worse eating.

I’d love for us to be able to add turkeys to the mix, at least for the holidays, just so I can try a free-ranged turkey since that has not been something I’ve had access to so far and I know that meat tastes so much different home raised than the grocery store varieties. Anybody have experience raising turkeys and have a variety to recommend? All I know about turkey raising in the urban landscape comes from Farm City by Novella Carpenter – a book that actually influenced a great deal of our animal husbandry doings as our Gnarly porch garden became a small Gnarly Farm.

Our bunny tractor in the side yard is now a last resort for bunnies who start a-rioting in the cage since we lost our favorite, sweetest, and only true pet bunny to a stray dog that wandered the neighborhood just long enough to play with her to death. The sadness of urban farming presents itself in different forms than the rural bits, I imagine. At least a coon or possum would have gotten a meal from the dear thing instead of just strewing her fur everywhere and leaving her for us to find, sad and half undressed.

It’s time to start prepping for the fall garden, which means choosing to be unlazy some Saturday soon and hauling in a few truckloads of mulch and boxes to choke out those grasses and get the pathways cleared up around the garden beds, sift a few wheelbarrows full of rabbit manure, and start seeding out our favorites of fall (my annuals that hubs never wants to plant but is always grateful to eat). What will you be growing this fall in your garden?

PS: Speaking of Florida Gardening, our friends Tanja Vidovic and John Starnes were on WMNF’s Sustainable Living Radio show and mentioned us 🙂 Here’s a link to the radio show so you can listen in – http://sound.wmnf.org/sound/wmnf_140804_100618_sustain1_392.MP3

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Posted in: critters, garden