Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Garden and Cottage Notes: July 2013, Week Two

Things are really beginning to look like more than "leafy things" in the garden now! We've had a string of hot, humid days with no rain, save for yesterday's cool front that did finally bring us some rain and some more comfortable air that we're enjoying today.

A note about my little friend above. I saw it land on the shepherd's hook I use for my bird feeders. The dragonfly was actually facing the other way when I tried to get close enough to snap a photo. I tried from one side of our large tree in the backyard, but couldn't get close enough. I really didn't want it to fly away, so I was trying to be all stealthy! I went around, behind the tree and peeeeeked out the other side and it had already spotted me, turned around and was definitely staring at me as much as I was at it. Thankfully, it stuck around for three, nice shots. I don't see as many dragonflies here as I did in Florida, because our yard no longer backs up to a pond. But happily, we continue to get many of nature's creatures in our little, cottage habitat anyway.

On Monday I stopped in at our local Cardinal Corner to pick up some new birdseed. I usually get a big bag at a big box store, because CC is so pricey, but every now and then I like to go in and get special mixes and just feast my eyes on all their beautiful gifts as well as my ears, listening to the finely-tuned wind chimes and bubbling fountains as I peruse the store. I purchased a simple, ten-pound bag of a pre-cracked and shelled mix of sunflower seeds and a smaller, bulk bag - I think I bought four pounds - of fine sunflower seeds to put into my finch feeder. There has not been much activity at all at the finch feeder this summer. The juncos ate out of it all winter, but I think I've seen goldfinches once at the feeder since it's warmed up.

I'd picked up the July newsletter at the shop and when I got home I read this:

Goldfinches are timid birds and will avoid feeders that don't feel "save. Us a nyjer or finch feeder for goldfinches and try to place it 15-20 feet from other feeders. It will take them several days before they are comfortable coming to a new feeder, so be patient and leave it in the same place for at least a few weeks before moving it again. It is worth the wait when you look out the window and see a feeder covered with brilliant, yellow birds! Always use fresh seed for best results. Warm summer days and rain can spoil nyjer seed or fine sunflower chips...Check and clean your feeders often especially with all our rain we had. Goldfinches like clean feeders and are fussy little guys. Seed stored in a hot can in the heat can also dry up the seed. Customers notice and influx of goldfinches once seed has been replaced...

So. Yesterday I cleaned out their feeder and added the fresh, fine sunflower I'd purchased. I only filled it about one-third of the way full, though, because if I'm going to be replacing seed more often, I don't want to dump an entire feeder's-worth into the compost. I did find that mine needed to be changed. It had been out there a while and there were sprouted, wet seeds at the bottom. I imagine they were likely fermenting and wouldn't have been very tasty. So, we'll see. I haven't moved my feeder yet, because I don't have another place to hang it at this point. But I did fill the other feeder for the bigger birds next to it with the new sunflower seed mix and have had crowds of happy visitors since! I especially have more cardinals. They'd stop in every now and then before, but now they "belly up to the bar" and have become regulars!

Here's the latest shot of the activity in the vegetable garden:

The tomatoes are nice, vigorous, and tall and are just beginning to create these little, green jewels:

I'm so excited about my tomato plants, because I struggled every year in Florida to grow them... and lost them every year to a freeze. Tomatoes grow in the winter in Florida and we were not far south enough to avoid freezes completely. We would get one or two days of a hard, killing freeze every year and despite my efforts to cover and protect them, they succumbed... every year! So I am looking forward to this year's first harvest.

The kohlrabi last week was just starting to form:

And this week they seem to get bigger and stronger daily! I've only four plants and wish I had some more. Next year, I plan to do more from seed and, perhaps plant in succession.

When I pull the kohlrabi, I'll likely plant more radishes in their place. My radishes are the smallest I've ever had! Their leaves are huge, but the root is tiny. I think because we had such a wet, late spring, they may have been affected. Radishes are usually so easy to grow, but my small crop, I'm afraid, is a fail. So,we'll see if I can plant some more and see if they'll do better for fall.

And speaking of fail, I just pulled this one, withered tomato plant yesterday. I have no idea what happened with it, because it was completely healthy. But it is the only one of its kind among my other tomatoes that are all thriving. It never even flowered and just had odd areas on it where it looked like it was trying to grow something right, but just didn't "know" how to do it. I'll have plenty of other tomatoes with ten other plants, so it's not a great loss, but I was curious to try this type, as it was one with a thicker skin that was supposed to be a "long keeper."

The peppers are beginning to fruit. I purchased a "variety pack" from the Friends Sale back in May, and I don't recall all the varieties I've got. So, each time one fruits, it's a pleasant surprise! I seem to have one jalepeno, but I think I recall that the rest are supposed to be mild varieties, as I'm not a huge, spicy-hot pepper fan.

And finally, the flowers are thriving in their pots on the deck, along with the chocolate mint in the pot that is trying to crawl down the steps. The geraniums are so happy in their pot; this is their second summer, my sister having purchased them for me as a housewarming present last year. I'll bring them and a pink geranium that is out under the tree in for the winter again, along with the mint and see how well they'll do.

Well, that's it from the garden this week. Not too much is happening inside right now, as we, like so many of you, like to do outdoor projects as much as possible during the warmer months. I hope you're having lovely weather wherever you are today. Do say hello in the comments, if you've dropped in. I'd love to be able to visit if you've got a blog too.

Talk to you tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Once again, like reading about your day. I have had the same experience with the finches....not very many, whereas last year, all over. With so much rain, I am sure the seed got wet, so will change it today. The other feeders don't stay long enough to get wet. Birds all over! Our bluebirds, I think, have raised their babies and left the little house, but are still around. Took samples of our dying squash plant to our local extension service and found out they had leafy mildew! So are spraying them with an anti-fungal spray, but it may be too late for this year. We did get beautiful squash before it got too bad. Our zucchini was getting it too, but hopefully we caught it soon enough! Tomatoes are lovely, a little bigger than your's, but still OK. the pole and bush beans have been attacked by the bean beetle, (I actually had a specimen of the larva), so took it in a baggie to extension man and he confirmed the beetle! It's the black and orange bean beetle! Looks like a lady bug, but is orange with the black spots, so check your beans daily, on the underside of the leaves, if they start looking all lacy and chewed up. Use Sevin spray, or try that soap stuff(which didn't work for me). So, this is all my comment...oh, love the kohlrabi!

Creative Life Studio said...

Oh, boo! Sorry about the beans! I will keep an eye out; thanks for the "heads up!

Shirley-Ann said...

Your garden is looking lovely! I love the little tomatoes. My tomato plants are just bearing flowers, cant wait for the fruit to show!

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