Monday, May 31, 2010

Early Summer Updates and a Woodpecker Query

It's nearing the prettiest time of year here, before the flowers are ragged from extreme summer heat. Two types of Endless Summer Hydrangea are blooming profusely (Original and Blushing Bride):

Scarlet runner bean vines are covering a bunch of spare tomato cages.

Red hot poker plant:

Two (unknown) daylilies, clearance purchases last fall, are blooming:

Black-eyed susans are starting their multi-month flowering period. This is rudbeckia hirta, which grows as a biennial here (though it's advertised as perennial).

Mums from our wedding brunch three years ago:

A pair of brown thrashers have a nest in some dense shrubbery next to our carport. We can't see or hear the babies, but the thrashers are constantly bringing them huge numbers of bugs and worms - even in the rain. Devoted parents! (This one has a worm.)

The little backyard vegetable garden is coming into its own. We're just harvesting tons of green beans these days, but tomatoes aren't far behind. We also have corn, winter squash (which I'm hoping is not as susceptible to borers), butterbeans, purple hull peas, shallots, corn, peppers (hot and sweet), cucumbers and eggplant planted. Herbs and fruit are elsewhere in the yard.

My mom asked me to post about a strange problem she's having - a woodpecker pecking on her (asphalt shingle) roof! She went outside to check and it's definitely pecking on the roof and not exposed wood. And she lives on 13 wooded acres! Does anyone have any idea why it would do this and how to get it to stop? It's driving her crazy and she's afraid it will cause a leak. Thanks!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May Flowers, Finches, Fruits and Veggies

Hope everyone had a good weekend! I've been slacking a bit on the blog, partly because I took up running. I have still been reading your blogs and will get back to more regularly commenting soon - promise!
Here are some snapshots of what's happening in our yard/garden in mid-May.
We've had a sudden influx of house finches:

Hydrangeas are starting to bloom:

My lone (but reliable) amaryllis:

Blueberries are plumping up:

Lamb's Ears are blooming:

Today's harvest: a handful of sugar snap peas (probably the next to last harvest), a few strawberries, and the first harvest of green beans:

Have a great week!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Of apples and bats

The three trees we planted for Earth Day (and to replace the downed Bradford Pear) are all surviving nicely. We planted an Autumn Blaze Maple, and two apple trees - Anna and Golden Dorsett. Until very recently, I thought you could only grow "cooking apples" in the deep south. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are actually many varieties of "eating apples" that will grow here.

The Golden Dorsett came with a ton of baby apples. Some have self-thinned, and I will be thinning a few more out to help the tree get established. This month's Organic Gardening magazine recommends thinning out all but the largest and shapeliest of each cluster. Here's the best-looking apple we have so far:

On a totally unrelated note, my friend is serving in the US military in Iraq and sent me this picture. This is supposedly a BAT HOUSE that Saddam Hussein had built. The rumor is that there was a terrible bug problem, so Saddam had a bunch of bats flown in and had this house made for them. Isn't it the craziest thing you've ever seen?!