This is Riley. She is 95 pounds of self-appointed yard protection. No bikers, joggers, walkers, or trash men are safe from her ire. She’ll race from one end of the yard to the other to get a good bark in.This is the war path. Nothing can grow along the fences where Riley chases her prey: not even weeds. I’ve had to get creative in trying to mingle my love of the pretty with Riley’s habit of crushing everything in her way. Here I built a little planter against the fence to reclaim a bit of earth.I have lots of these three-foot fence pieces (thanks, mom!) I use them to trellis pretty vines and to “steer” Riley away from areas I am trying to protect. Grouping works wonders. Here, the combination of the planter, birdbath, and hosta is just too much trouble. She’ll go around rather than through.Lastly, I’ve been able to train her to stay out of the vegetable garden. Unlike the rest of the yard, it’s an obviously defined space. The walls could never keep her out, but they do give her a visual boundary. So far, so good.
My yard is always full of my family and friends. As I walk outside I am greeted by Woody Platt’s Sundrops, Grandma’s Tiger Lilies, and Mom’s Cleome. I take care with these special plants. To ensure that they stay with me, I save the seeds to plant next year.
This is the time of year when the seedpods are brittle and dry. That’s when you want to collect them. The Cleome seeds above are ready to be harvested. I’ll hold a large, clean, dry Tupperware container underneath and brush the seeds into the container.
I store my seeds in a labeled #10 envelope. Seed Collection Envelope Here’s a pdf to download to print your own envelopes. It is set up for my printer, which feeds envelopes vertically on the right. I can format it for different printers; just let me know.
When our children outgrew the swing set my husband made, we pulled down the kid’s swings and replaced them with a swing everyone can use. I planted wisteria on one side and after just a few years we are getting nice shade.
I go through birdbaths like Snickers bars. I try to remember to empty them before a hard freeze, but the water containers always seem to leak after just a year or so. I’ve learned that a big dish from Goodwill and a rock is all it takes to bring back the bathers.
My yard is a nice size, but gourds and cucumbers and all of those sprawling vines seem to take over everything. This year, I let the birdhouse gourds overtake the trellis and continue right up a nearby tree. The garden stayed neat, and this totally appeals to my love of the quirky.
And the solution here? . . . Keep the birdseed in a metal container from now on.
Just for perspective: The lowest finger points to the sunflower bloom pictured above. The finger above it points to the birdhouse gourds that are happily climbing every tree in sight. The finger in the top left points to the sunflower blooms (nearly 8 feet) that are in the near future.
My little darling Waxwing greeted me at dawn with his silent welcome. Even though I have studied their sounds online, I have yet to hear them. The nest withstood the heavy rains. For that I am thankful. It’s all right (do do do do do do dododododo).
It started out as any July morning:I enjoyed a cup of coffee in the party garden at 6:00 am while Riley stood guard and patiently waited for her run. While we were running, I saw a hot air balloon. We stepped up the pace, got home, and I grabbed my camera and drove out to track it down. (Riley had a drink and a nap on the sofa.)The balloon had a friend.When I got home, I noticed a pair of Cedar Waxwings nesting in my yard. This is unheard of. I am thrilled to see them once a year, in a group, in winter. I have never seen Cedar Waxwings during nesting season.They are very active, so the pictures aren’t great – but I have high hopes for the future.
This is not one of the heirloom tomatoes that I started from seed; they are a bit slower. This is a “Celebrity” tomato. I bought the plants from the farm market down the road. After the first came ripe, I was almost struck with a glut. Never you mind. I can handle the challenge.
First up: Bread Kabobs. Day old bread, tomatoes, olives, artichokes. Thread on a skewer & sprinkle with olive oil, salt, all sorts of Italian herbs AND red pepper flakes. Grill until toasty. Oh, my.
My yard is bursting: with birds, animals, flowers, vegetables. Sometimes July can feel parched, but not this year. We are ripe with all of the things I love.Zinnias I planted from seed are in their full glory. When they no longer look pretty to me, I will leave them as a meal for my goldfinch friends.The cherry tree is overripe to me, but it is alive with blue jays, red-breasted woodpeckers (and a fledgling – the first I’ve EVER seen), robins, brown thrashers, finches, cardinals, flickers, and titmice. The hummingbirds spend a great deal of time perching in it – but I have never seen them eating the fruit in any way. There are also a crazy amount of bunnies beneath the tree. Are they eating the cherries that fall?The bird house gourds are happy to climb the trellis I made to keep them off the ground. I have big plans ahead for these, but the hummingbirds love their blossoms right now.But of all those things to love, beautiful tomatoes, just days from being ripe, are my current favorite things.
I have watched the hummingbirds for years now, and they still remain a mystery. They often seem bug-like, as they chase each other around, chattering, oftentimes spending more time defending the food than they spend eating it. But I’ve also seen two hummingbirds rise slowly in flight, beaks touching, displaying what I can only call tenderness.
What I do know: The male Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds (the only kind in our area) arrive in my South Jersey backyard when my cherry tree begins to bloom. This year it was April 24th.The females arrive a week or so later. I tend to see single hummingbirds at my 8 to 10 feeders every 20 minutes during this time.
Then they all go away. For two or three weeks in late May and early June, I rarely see them. My best guess is that they are nesting in the orchards down the road and are sticking close to the nests. By mid June, they are back, stronger than ever. One bird sits at every feeder, guarding it from any bird or bug who happens to wander by. I keep the feeders by my seating areas, and I am forever being buzzed by them. They seem to be more curious than wary.
If you’d like to join the fun, get a small feeder. (A large one is only useful after you have lots of birds feeding – the nectar gets bad (cloudy) after a week or less.) Heat 1 cup water & 1/4 cup sugar in the microwave until it boils (3 minutes works for me). Stir to be sure it’s all incorporated. Let cool before filling the feeders.
I’ve been reading about Permaculture, and that gave me the idea to incorporate the stump into a planting bed.I used some cedar shims and bricks I had lying around. I hammered the shims deep into the ground so they would support the bulk of the soil. I just stacked the bricks around that to pretty it up. It was easy after I got the bottom layer level.Here’s how it looked at the end of April, before soil and plants.After I planted it with a sedum and flower seeds, I added some Native Sedum plants to the cracks of the planter to see if they’d grow.They did grow. Just wait till the zinnias bloom!
I am officially calling it a successful cabbage season. I bought plants (Golden Cross) and planted them on April 13th, over a month before our last frost date. They are in a raised bed which I filled with soil from my garden excavation and lots of compost (mostly kitchen scraps).
I planted them with rosemary, nasturtiums, and sunflowers. A few tomatoes volunteered, and I left them in there as well. After the heads formed, I saw the evidence of cabbage worms on the plant farthest from the rosemary. The outside leaves had been eaten and there was lots of poop. I used the hose to forcefully clean everything out, and as I directed the hose spray, I made sure to hit the rosemary first. I was sure I’d be doing the same thing in a day or two, but I never saw another poop.This picture was taken about a week ago. I just picked my first cabbage this morning and made cole slaw for dinner. I’m going to have to get more creative than that.
our first honeybee;our first coneflower; (thinking of you, Cynthia)and our first floundering baby bird.Squeaky Pete – King of the Rock Wall.
I love this time of year! Every day I find some new flower blooming or seed sprouting. Lots of herbs are ready to use and the spinach is looking like dinner. We have a mockingbird sitting on her nest, and this year (horray!) it’s above dog-face level. Here’s my revamped vegetable garden. The pathways are filled with trimmings from the spring clean up (no weeds). It’s about 8 inches thick and very nice for kneeling: clean and comfy.
My husband spotted him first while I was at work: a Rose Breasted Grosbeak at our feeder. SO exciting – I’ve seen them before, but rarely, and NEVER in my own back yard. Just plain old sunflower seeds on a platform feeder did the trick. He was here for several days and I got a good look at him, the little cutie pie.My husband has been my best garden supporter this year; he signed me up for the organic herbal gardening course that spurred me on; he gave me a gift certificate to the best nursery in town; AND he spent his birthday money to make me three of these excellent new planters.
This one is sporting cabbages (I’ll pick the biggest and let the little ones continue to grow), rosemary, nasturtiums, and sunflowers.
Happy Mother’s Day!
I finished my main vegetable garden excavation and rebuild (pictures soon) using untreated scrap wood my husband has saved from our many house projects. That kind of got me loving the idea of using up the rest of the scrap wood by making structures for the garden.
Here’s my first little project – a trellis for my Heirloom Cardinal Climbers. I’ve read two biographies of Frank Lloyd Wright lately and am feeling quite architectural. Who knows what else I will come up with?
I got the Cardinal Climber seeds from the great library seed bank we have in my area: Library Seed Bank Can’t wait until they get growing!
I am worried about my seedlings. They are thin and long, not bushy and hearty like so many I see at my blogging friends’ sites: handmade.homegrown.beautiful life
I decided to get them outside into the sunshine, even though it’s early. I put them out a bit every day for a week and just recently started keeping them out. I built a “greenhouse” for them (rocks on the sides to retain heat and old windows on the top.They look to be adjusting (haven’t died yet).
The weather hasn’t been good, so I have been doing some paper gardening inside. I made a sign for my kitchen using a great tutorial at Design Cuts. I also made some signs for my garden. I printed them on cardstock, sprayed them with clear coat, decoupaged them onto wood, and polyurethaned them. Not sure how long they’ll last out in the weather, but aren’t they fun?
The sun is out . . . Time to get dirty!
I’m redoing my vegetable garden in anticipation of all the heirloom seedlings that will soon be residing there. I am digging out a walking path, which I then fill with stones (oh, the stones!) and leaves and whatnot. This will give me a cleaner place to walk and will keep me from tromping in the plant beds. I’m using some old lumber (non-treated) and just hammering in shims to hold it all in place. My thinking is that the soil on one side and the leaves on the other side will hold it all in place. So that’s the plan. . . .Next time I go out (hopefully this afternoon . . . ) I will bring a level and a square . . .