December 5: Pullet update and seed-saving adventures in Southern California

The year 2016 is drawing to a close. We finally turned on our furnace on Nov. 28. The nights have been getting down into the low 40s pretty regularly. That sent Chicken Little, our oldest hen, into the enclosed nest box to sleep at night. All four chickens had been sleeping on the perches in the coop that are out in the open. But the cold and wind got to the old bird, and into the nest box she went. That left the pullets, Princess Ariel and Princess Aurora, to roost with fat, cranky Dino-peep. They avoid her in the daytime because she is so mean, but they snuggle up next to her at night. She must be warm.

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Chicken Little is in back, Dino-peep is the fat barred rock in front, and Princess Aurora is the lovely black sex-linked pullet on the right. Her comb and wattles are growing out! My girls get fresh organic greens every day, as well as scratch, laying pellets, and sometimes table scraps or mealworms.

A couple of nights ago, it got so cold that Dino-peep joined Chicken Little inside the enclosed nest box area of the coop. That left my two pullets to sleep alone on the perches. Well, they can sleep where they want.

Princess Aurora is reaching puberty. Her wattles are nearly full grown, and her comb is half-grown and turning red. Her voice is changing too, and she sounds like a mature chicken. I expect her to start laying eggs in another week or two.

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Princess Aurora is growing up. How long will it be until she lays her first egg? Two weeks? Three? I can hardly wait.

Princess Ariel, the Ameraucuna, is still growing. At this point, she is my tallest chicken. Her comb and wattles still aren’t very big or very red though. I guess she needs to finish growing up before she starts laying. It sure is fun watching the girls grow up.

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Princess Ariel is rather aloof, and hangs out by herself on the perches a lot. I wish I had another Ameraucuna to keep her company, since birds of a feather do flock together.

I managed to get veggie bed #1 cleared and planted a few weeks ago. I installed transplants of red oak-leaf lettuce, Bright Lights Swiss Chard, and leeks. I also planted baby bok choy, Redhead radishes, komatsuna (a Japanese mustard spinach), and Snowbird peas in the bed. I patiently waited for everything to sprout. Then a rat or squirrel dug up every pea sprout except one and ate them. Curses! Foiled again. I guess I should be grateful that the critter didn’t seem to like radishes, bok choy, or komatsuna.

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Veggie bed #1 has a collard green plant that is going into its third year. Also leeks, cilantro, Red Oak-leaf lettuce, chard, Redhead radishes, Deer Tongue Lettuce, toy choy, and komatsuna. These are Forever Beds from Gardener’s Supply Company.

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Veggie bed #2 has chives, cauliflower, red oak leaf lettuce, laminate kale, mizuna, and a bell pepper that is going to over-winter (I hope).

The basil in the Garden Box of Joyous Anticipation has gone to seed, but I am still able to harvest enough leaves to make pesto. This is the best basil that I have ever grown, so I harvested seeds from it today. They are now drying in the garage. I also collected some seeds from our old dried Deer Tongue Lettuce, and shelled a batch of dried Blue Lake Pole Bean pods to save seeds for planting next summer. Growing heirloom varieties means that you can save seeds from them. Hybrids don’t breed true, so there is no point in saving seeds from them.

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The Garden Box of Joyous Anticipation has green onions, overgrown and collapsing basil, a few radishes, an orange bell pepper that I will let overwinter, a struggling Swiss Chard plant, a volunteer tomato that may or may not survive, a few overgrown radishes, a couple of struggling beets, and arugula galore. It is time to replant this bed with winter veggies. I built this raised garden box from a kit from Gardener’s Supply Company. Love it!

The seed catalogs are beginning to arrive. Hooray, my favorite time of year.

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My 2017 Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Catalog arrived! Best catalog ever.

As I worked on seed management in the garage, I realized that my seed collection has become unwieldy and horribly disorganized. I have no idea what I have anymore, or where I have it. So I brought all of the seeds packets and baggies in from the garage where they had been sitting on a table. I then cataloged them in Excel. Then I dumped the packets back on the table. At least they are now organized in Excel, if not in actual physical space in the garage.

I have printed my list below. If it says Lou Murray, those are heirloom seeds that I saved from my garden. Duplicates are those from different years, or different seed companies. This year, I ordered seeds from Native Seed Search, Territorial Seed Company, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and Seed Savers Exchange. I also have seeds from Ferry-Morse, Burpee, Botanical interest, Cook’s Garden, and more. As you can clearly see, I have a real problem with seed hoarding. I have left out the year the seed was collected. I figured that was TMI.

I wish I could tell you that this list represents all of my seeds, but it doesn’t. I also have two boxes of seed packets that are older than the group listed here. I think a lot of those have expired and need to be tossed. Well, that is a job for another day. Hope you enjoyed this December update on my southern California garden and chickens.

SEED VARIETY COMPANY or SOURCE
Arugula Lou Murray
Basil Lou Murray
Bean, Arikara Yellow Baker Creek
Bean, Blue Lake, Pole Lou Murray
Bean, Blue Lake, Pole Lou Murray
Bean, Colorado River Bean Native Seed Search
Bean, Contender, Bush Ferry-Morse
Bean, Contender, Bush Lou Murray
Bean, Frijol Chivita Native Seed Search
Bean, Good Mother Stallard, Pole Baker Creek
Bean, Hopi Black Native Seed Search
Bean, Ojo de Cabra Baker Creek
Bean, Sunset Runner Baker Creek
Bean, Taos Red Native Seed Search
Bean, Tepary, Blue Speckled Baker Creek
Beet, Chioggia Botanical Interests
Beet, Chioggia Lou Murray
Beet, Detroit Dark Red Ferry-Morse
Beet, Golden Baker Creek
Beet, Golden Cook’s Garden
Beet, Lutz Green Leaf Cook’s Garden
Bok Choy, Pak Choi, Pechay Burpee
Bok Choy, Toy Choy Botanical Interests
Bok Choy, White Stem Botanical Interests
Cabbage, Brunswick Baker Creek
Cabbage, Tete Noir Baker Creek
Carrot, Red Samurai Territorial
Carrot, Scarlet Nantes Ferry-Morse
Chard, Bright Lights Botanical Interests
Cilantro Baker Creek
Cilantro Lou Murray
Collard Greens, Champion Lou Murray
Corn, Glass Gem Baker Creek
Cucumber, Boothby’s Blonde Slicing Territorial
Cucumber, General Lee Hybrid Slicing Territorial
Cucumber, Marketmore Seeds of Change
Cucumber, Marketmore 76 Ferry-Morse
Cucumber, Straight Eight Ferry-Morse
Kale, Beady’s Camden Dave
Kale, Dward Blue Curled Botanical Interests
Komatsuna (Mustard Spinach) Botanical Interests
Leek, Zermatt Territorial
Lettuce, Black-seeded Simpson Lou Murray
Lettuce, Deer Tongue Lou Murray
Mizuna Native Seed Search
Parsnip, All American Ferry-Morse
Parsnip, Turga Botanical Interests
Pea, Snow, Mammoth Melting Sugar Stover
Pea, Snowbird Burpee
Pea, Sugar Snap Native Seed Search
Pepper, Bell, Giant Marconi Lou Murray
Radish, Easter Egg Botanical Interests
Radish, Easter Egg Lou Murray
Radish, French Breakfast Ferry-Morse
Radish, Malaga Baker Creek
Radish, Misato Rose Baker Creek
Radish, Pink Beauty Baker Creek
Radish, Redhead (Roodkopje) Cook’s Garden
Radish, Redhead (Roodkopje) Territorial
Spinach, Monstrueux de Viroflay Baker Creek
Squash, Summer, Desi Baker Creek
Squash, Summer, Grey Zucchini Ferry-Morse
Squash, Summer, Lebanese White Bush Marrow Baker Creek
Squash, Summer, Saffron Prolific Straightneck Burpee
Squash, Summer, Tatume Baker Creek
Squash, Winter, Acorn Lou Murray
Squash, Winter, a shiny blue pumpkin (Jarradale?) Lou Murray
Squash, Winter, Butternut Lou Murray
Squash, Winter, Butternut Lou Murray
Squash, Winter, Calabaza de las Aguas Native Seed Search
Squash, Winter, Chihuahua Landrace Baker Creek
Squash, Winter, Galeux d’Eysines Baker Creek
Squash, Winter, Guatamala Blue Baker Creek
Squash, Winter, Mayo Blusher Native Seed Search
Squash, Winter, Mayo Blusher Native Seed Search
Squash, Winter, Mayo Cushaw Native Seed Search
Squash, Winter, Mayo Gooseneck Native Seed Search
Squash, Winter, Navajo Cushw Tail Squash Native Seed Search
Squash, Winter, Navajo Gray Hubbard Native Seed Search
Squash, Winter, Pumpkini Lou Murray
Squash, Winter, Red Warty Thing Baker Creek
Squash, Winter, Sugar Pumpkin Lou Murray
Squash, Winter, Upper Ground Sweet Potato Baker Creek
Tomato, Black Vernissage Baker Creek
Turnip, Round Red Baker Creek

 

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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2 Responses to December 5: Pullet update and seed-saving adventures in Southern California

  1. Mary Mueller says:

    So many seeds! I planted some hyacinth bean seeds that I had harvested myself about 5 yrs ago, and the did great!

  2. Yeah, too many seeds, Mary. I have a problem with seed hoarding, often buying more varieties than I have room to plant. But I don’t plan on stopping.

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