Sunday, April 27, 2008

Some garden pictures

From the garden.

I gave up on the seed I was growing... between getting fried and just not thriving (I suspect my potting soil and the time in the sun under the plastic did this) I decided to fork out for some plants from my local Herb Festival this weekend :)

Swiss Chard and Lettuce in front, peas growing up the trellis in back :)

Cilantro... just for Dana ;)

The kids' garden, wherein they have planted garlic. I added seeds for pumpkins (one orange and one white), Marigolds and Chamomile.

Tomatoes and Peppers, plus sage in the background.

The perfect rose.

Friday, April 25, 2008

First Harvest

Leastwise, the first one we got around to actually EATING ;) Technically we could have harvested Swiss Chard over a month ago and Sorrel two or more months ago!

The first harvest consisted of some lettuce and spinach leaves picked to make a wrap.

Since rebel is not so fond of lettuce, I gave him the spinach.

Mum, stop taking photos of me!!

Despite the look, he actually loved the wrap :) Which is a huge success, he is almost as picky as his Dad. He was very excited to have very fresh spinach ;)

M'Lady said the sauce was "too ficy" (too spicy), but she enjoyed the fresh harvest!

This is the lunch itself... a wrap, consisting of chickpea patties with a curry sauce and lettuce.
The patties and sauce recipes are found at the Taste of Home site (it is a subscriber only recipe unfortunately), although I used sour cream instead of yoghurt, as I was out of the latter.

Green Hour 9 (cont.) and 10

So I managed to get the kids out of the house today. We were out ALL morning at a local park for our nature club outing :) That was a very pleasant day, and the wellie boots I insisted the kids took, came in very handy!
We ate a picnic sitting in a gazebo at the top of a hill, overlooking an area of buttercups and dandelions. I wish I had thought to stop stuffing my gob and actually take a picture of the kids perched on the walls or down in the flowers! But I didn't. I did take a picture of the inside of a tree and some pictures of flowers, but I spent most of the time chasing after the kids :D We identified a number of flowers which we added to our list, to much excitement from the kids!

This afternoon, Rebel did his square. I decided to let him take charge of the situation, and I placed the camera in his hand. So the pictures you see below are his :)

First he chose a spot down our hill. It's swampy there after the recent rains, so he chose to wear his wellies... and stomp in the mud ;)

There was a lot of moss in the square:

and some of the Japanese knotweed we have been desperately trying to get rid of, as well as some of the grass we have been seeding for the last few weeks ;)

The Indian Strawberry is a common weed here, but entirely inedible!

Which is a shame because the berries look nice! You can see another one below with a dandelion.

Rebel picked up a fallen catkin from some nearby tree (probably one of the pines in the front garden), and desperately (but unsuccessfully) tried to get some photos of an orange bug and some small ants.

He admired the white clovers, which I suggest everyone take a smell of, since they are quite fragrant!

And he looked at this baby tree. We think it might be a birch tree as there are several around.

Notice also the maple seeds? The kids have great fun throwing these 'helicopter' seeds into the air to watch them whirl! Rebel found a very large one, which went into his nature box.
If you take a look above the square, you will see this:

Which Rebel correctly identified as a Tulip Poplar... this just so happens to be what is left of 'Scenery Mr. Climby' . He did not keep his attention on the square ALL the time. He photographed this Tiger Beetle next to his 'mine'. It's really just a hole where he is allowed to dig LOL.

While Rebel was studying his plot (he tells me he is not finished BTW), M'Lady was picking caterpillars. From ALL over!

She amassed quite a collection, I think there were 7 in the jar at this point. They were tent caterpillars, so not really a favourite of mine!

But the day was lovely and I took it in and drew some things ;)
Today I plan on a picnic lunch outside (not really a treat since we do this quite often LOL) so I can take some pictures to put up on Green Hour 10!

N.B. I wrote this yesterday just before the scheduled power outage at Blogger, and so did not get it up until this morning!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

While I was Cooking...

...I watched the birds outside my kitchen window, and I saw:

A red bellied woodpecker (female) pecking at the suet. You can't see her, but there is also a little female goldfinch behind her ;)

Then along came the male goldfinch, and chasing off the female and another goldfinch, he eats his seed.

Then there was a downy... first a male (above) then a female. At one point the two woodpeckers (downy and red bellied) were on the suet at the same time.

And finally, just as I was about to put the camera away, along comes a recent addition to our regulars, a mockingbird. This friend is another suet eater, and is constantly looking around. Probably for the neighbour's cat, whom I caught chasing birds yesterday!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Green Hour #9

I had it all planned. We'd do a little gardening, and while we did that, the kids would pick a square foot (just like Barb describes) and study it.

It didn't work out that way at all! You see, this weekend, we had one nice sunny day and one wet, rainy day. The sunny day was Saturday, errand day. Go to the store and get stuff day. And it rained on Sunday.

So, we did not get to do the square foot thing (which I was sure made a wonderful 'occupation' activity). I knew I should have done it on Friday!
Instead we built a Teepee and watched this fearsome spider!

Never mind, the kids did experience some outdoor time on Saturday.

First we watched a Red bellied Woodpecker build a nest in an OLD maple at the far end of our garden. That was a little too far away to catch on camera... but then we saw an old friend!
Toady came back for a visit! I know I have blogged him before. Here is at least one post where we met him (before he was identified as a TOAD and not a frog!)

I induced M'Lady to touch him and stroke him. She actually rather enjoyed it, and was most upset to be called in just a little later.

And we investigated the new flowers (which will be added to Rebel's list very soon!).

This pretty little flower is on some kind of grass. I think it is in the flax family, but I can't remember :-o

I bought this spiderwort at the Herb Festival last year. We have two kinds now ;)

This is the famous Tudor Rose (Rosa damascena versicolor). Some people think the Tudor Rose was the Rosa mundi rose, but those in the know have decided that this is the offspring of the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster. (I think I got those right! I know I got them right because I checked... and at first I got them wrong ;))

This is Rosa pendulina a new addition to the garden just this year... and we already have a bloom!
Now, if the rain manages to let up over the next two days, we'll try to squeeze out some square time and maybe we will read this book:

(One Small Square) Backyard by Donald M. Silver

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend Gardener

My husband and I do a lot of our gardening on the weekend. It's just easier that way! This week though, because of predictions for rain (which never appeared) on Sunday AND Saturday, and promised 80 degrees plus (which DID appear) on Friday, Jacobite took the day off and gave himself a long weekend.
It was lovely, although not really restful, we did get a lot done in the garden!

It was a warm day on Friday. Sunny- enough so to burn me despite my wearing sunblock. But this meant that the bugs were out. I have a few mosquito bites on my leg, and these photos to prove it!

An Eastern Tailed Blue Butterfly... next to a maple seed.

M'Lady spent a good deal of time, patiently watching the butterflies (there were about three of them at any one time) and then she decided she wanted to hold one. When one finally crawled onto her fingertip, she was ecstatic!

M'Lady holds an Eastern Tailed Blue.

Meantime, I was making a trellis. I got DH to cut the CPVC pipes for me, and to bang the rebar stakes into the ground. The design comes straight out of Mel Bartholomew's Square foot Gardening, although I used string and not netting for the middle.

My Pea Trellis.

On Saturday, we grew fed up of being scratched to death by the roses around our path, and invested in an arbour.

Before the arbour.

This decision has only been three years in the making, the last two years we put it off and regretted it. This year we did it and are VERY happy with the results!

After the arbour! No more scratches!

The kids got in nature study too... watching a green snake, the butterflies, the ants... and planting garlic :D (yes I know these are best planted in autumn!)

For our butterfly identification, I used this PDF File.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Want More Nature Crafts?

I discovered these wonderful nature diaries on the Crafty Crow this morning! Enjoy!

A Day in Nature (Green Hour Assignment #8)

After what seems to be weeks of rain and cold and clouds, we finally get a break. It's not supposed to last very long, just a few days, but it is enough to send spring springing on its way!

So out the kids went. Back they came for binoculars. Out they went. Back they came again and again with things for their nature boxes and more things for the nature table. Out I went with my camera... and back again for the blog :)

Our Nature table (there are more things in the boxes ;)). It is inspired by the one linked in my sidebar over there---->
Ours is not quite so exciting... we have a dead hornet, not a dead wasp. I am supposed to be mailing it on though ;)

A peek inside Rebel's recently finished box. :)

Rebel's observations: "I saw my first dragonfly of the year!", "Look, how much would this lichen cost if I sold it?" (he wanted to sell it as a dyestuff). "These violets are beautiful!"

M'Lady: "Wook!" **waving a large old stick at me**

A pine 'flower'. These things produce copious amounts of pollen, which make the cars very yellow at this time of year. Later the centre part will turn into a pinecone.

Then there were the unspoken observations... does shaking the pine tree to make the pollen fall off all over them count? Or using their binoculars to find more lichen? :) It was an informal week for nature study, and if we can find the booklet, the 3 dragonflies and other things will be noted!

There is the robins nest we watched being built:
And as we watched later, a crow tore through it, looking futilely for eggs.

Or perhaps my rapidly growing peas:
Which don't quite make up for the loss of at least one of the giant pumpkins. I planted two more seeds in the hope that they will sprout, only this time I put them OUTSIDE in the ground.

Along with onions.

And carrots and radishes planted from seed.
The kids watched as I hilled over some sprouted potatoes. Not the small one you normally get, but ones I bought to eat which sprouted :)

There are the budding roses:
Getting ready to bloom next month. Or our beautiful lilacs, or the creeping phlox in our circle.

There is the fig tree which is leafing out.

I have hopes of seeing fruit this year. I suspect they are futile, but I hope anyway :D

And there are the insects, our favourite helper bugs are reflected in my daughter's chosen rainwear:
I'll have to show you her raincoat another time :) There were pollen-speckled periwinkles:
Which are quite dusty with pine pollen in their habitat around the mailbox. The local dogs fertilize them regularly for us (since urine is almost pure nitrogen, these plants often get quite a lot of it!).

Indeed, there was a lot to see in our garden today, and the kids loved it. Even if they were coated with pollen.

So our Green Hour for the week went. I make a note to buy a few magnifying glasses. OK they have only been on my list for a couple of months now, but perhaps I'll get them this time!

Enjoy your time in the garden this week :)