The Weekly Digs #220

by Becky

A Sad Ending to the Turkey Story

Remember last week how I shared about the wild turkeys and how the wild hens were saying hello to our turkey Tom?

Well an interesting bit of foreshadowing happened. Our neighbor came over to prep the electrical for our XL freeze drier and we were talking about the turkeys.

He said, “Do your turkeys free range?” and we said yes but we cage them in at night. 

Then he said, “Have you seen those wild turkeys around?” and we were like, “Yeah!” So he said, “Have you seen the males?” I said no.

He said, “Well you better be careful because if the wild turkey males see your Tom, they will gang up on him and kill him.”

I was really surprised about that but I hadn’t seen the males at all so I wasn’t worried.

Cam told me that all the wild turkeys were roosting in the trees on the south side of the house. The kids thought it was cool.

Two days later we couldn’t find our turkey Tom all day. Cruz found him in the woods, dead, right underneath where the wild turkeys were roosting. He must have ventured that way and the wild Toms killed him. Or at least that’s what we assume happened. 

It was a sad ending to turkey Tom. But on a more positive note, there is no more poop on our front porch and my kids aren’t afraid he will attack them anymore.

We do still have our hen, and yes, she is still sitting on the eggs. I’m hopeful she will hatch them and they will survive. I feel the need to protect them all now. Perhaps once they hatch, we’ll move them all to a chicken tractor as a home.

In the Garden

The garden looks alot like how I feel right now, tired. Haha. 

Plants that have been in the ground all summer, like my zinnias, are starting to fade and die back. Weed pressure is heavy. 

We wrapped up our big infrastructure project this week. Video all about it will be out next week! 

After two super big building projects in the garden this year, I look around at the other plants and think, no wonder they look neglected. We have put a lot of focus into structures this year.

Weed Prevention

I have a solution to the weeds for next year that I’m pretty excited about. 

Ground Cover

Long story short, I have a love-hate relationship with permeable ground cover. It works amazingly for weed prevention and I use it all along the edges of the garden to keep weeds from creeping in. Also, I actually tried using it in one row of vegetables this year, but the truth is I hesitate to use it.

It doesn’t seem to benefit soil life, and there are a few studies that prove microplastics can make it into the soil and perhaps into the plants when using plastic in gardening.

I have lots of mixed feelings about it because I like less work but I also want to stay away from anything not natural. Gardening for me is very health driven.

It’s an interesting balance that I teeter back and forth on in my mind because of course there are plastics all around us and we never think twice about them. Tons of food is sold in plastic containers, water bottles are plastic, and I have my food storage in plastic 5 gallon containers. So take this with a grain of salt. 

Silage Tarps

I use silage tarps and of course they are plastic too. Just so you know silage tarps are made of poly­eth­yl­ene, one of the safest plastics out there. 

I’ve never been worried about silage tarps leaching microplastics into the soil because we use it on a very short term basis. We also don’t use it simultaneously while growing vegetables. 

Epic Gardening has a good article about plastics and gardening HERE.

Cardboard and Paper

Another weed prevention alternative that many people use is cardboard and paper. But I’ve learned over the years that cardboard and paper can also be a source of potential contamination in the garden, depending on how it was made.

Chemical glues are used in some cardboards along with forever chemicals like PFAS. You can read more about that HERE. If you are anxiety prone, read with caution. I listened to a podcast about PFAS and it really made me anxious. If you head down that rabbit hole, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Because of all the unnatural things out there, I searched for some natural weed prevention options.

Of course the best natural options are things already found in nature like wood chip mulch, leaf mulch, compost, and growing cover crops.

We do use those but for the size garden we have it takes a HUGE amount of material and a lot of hauling to cover a row. 

I was excited to find another option which requires less hauling so I’m sharing it here.

Organic Weed Paper

So we recently set up a new garden area and I found a source of OMRI listed (meaning it can be used in organic production) weed prevention paper. So it has no chemicals or glue or PFAS. 

The organic weed prevention paper is going to be a great alternative. It’s expensive compared to using recycled paper but I get the peace of mind of knowing that I’m not adding a bunch of chemicals to the garden. 

You can check out what I got HERE. Seems like good stuff so far. I’ll keep you posted on how long it lasts. 

P.S. Sorry that was a lot of explaining before I got to the point. I think I should have put this all in another blog post, haha. 

Highs and Lows in the Garden

Highs

  • Cucumbers started to fruit!
  • Carrots are growing well
  • I got some strawberry plants in the mail (will explain more on that next week as time allows)

Lows

  • My zucchini died. I haven’t grown this type of squash in the garden for years, and this was a reminder why. They are very prone to squash bugs and die fast. I got about 20 off of 4 plants before they died. It was enough to recoup the cost of seed and work but not enough to try that again anytime soon.
  • The weeds are going to seed in the garden. It’s so bad for future years to let the get big enough to set seed. I have lots more weeds than I’d like to admit right now.

Preserving

The raw applesauce finished its cycle in the freeze drier and we got to try it. It is SO GOOD. It’s not a gritty texture anymore and if you water it down enough it tastes like apple cider. 

So we made some more of that and pre froze it, I will put it in the freeze dryer soon. 

Then I decided to pour the raw blended apples onto dehydrator trays to make a fruit leather. I got some feedback last week from my video, some friends said since they didn’t have a freeze dryer they felt discouraged. 

I tried the dehydrator to show that you can do something similar with a much less expensive appliance. 

The raw apple fruit leather turned out pretty good! Since it’s raw it’s not as pliable as if I were to cook it.

It doesn’t have the same wow factor as freeze dried but the end result is still delicious.

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