Happy Hen Farm

Vegetables / Herbs


Looking towards the house from the far corner near the chicken yard. This photograph was taken in the spring.

This year the vegetable beds have been somewhat of a struggle. I don't feel that they get enough sun during the day. Shadows from the house, garage and neighborhing trees are beginning to make growing difficult in several areas of the yard. The raised bed closest to the chickens is the most difficult to plant.. The shade from the chicken's hackberry tree starts early in the afternoon and rules out most vegetables, even though it provides the chickens with relief from the sun. For that I'm grateful, but I might have to use that bed only for winter and early spring plantings of things like peas, salad greens, cabbages and parsley and plant a simple cover crop during the summer. I don't want to cut the tree down entirely, but maybe I'll have it trimmed in time for next summer.


The bed next to the swingset, now in its second year of production, gets much more sun and is doing beautifully. Last year we harvested loads of basil, eggplant and peppers. This year we have much the same -- tomatoes, basil, eggplant, and peppers, but have also added cucumbers (that are growing up the swingset -- sorry kids!), carrots, onions, beets (lost to the scratchings of an escaped chicken), and for the first time, corn. We plant intensively, which around here is code for 'hodge podge', but enjoy looking at the overflowing 'greeness' of that bed.

None of our beds are particularly large, so please don't get the impression that we're growing wagonloads of food. We have enough to supplement our regular meals, but usually don't have enough to can. (Though this summer I made Bread and Butter pickles three times!) I would love to have more space so I could have a really big garden, but that will have to wait until the kids outgrow the swingset. The sunniest space in the yard is covered eggplantby the behemoth, but that's the way it is for now. They kids been very gracious and tolerated my cucumbers this summer, so I shouldn't complain. I am, however, planning a small extension the the bed next to the swingset because next year I really want to grow summer squash!

Record Keeping

One thing we haven't done with our gardens is keep accurate records. I have several beautiful tomato plans in the back but I don't know what variety they are because I didn't draw a map of the bed when I planted it. Naughty me! My goal for next year is to know what I planted, when I planted it, where it's located and how it grew. Knowing this will help me effectively rotate crops through the beds rather than relying on my not too acurate memory.


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