September 23, 2011
Squirrels really are stupid.
Or are they smart enough to be vengeful? Could it be they’re just trying to get back at me for cutting down all those sunflowers to store for winter?
Regardless of the why, nobody wins when a sunflower is cut down and half chewed before the bees get their turn. I can’t salvage this to store for winter. I can’t even stick it in a vase. What a shame!
So damn you squirrels!
May the hungry bees swarm and sting your twitchy little fuzzy butts until it hurts.
And, if that doesn’t work, here’s a warning (because I know you can read, and my blog is probably your favorite.) I’ve eaten squirrel, and yes, it tastes like chicken. And, I like to eat chicken. Eat another of my sunflowers & I might just fry you up in my cast iron pan like my country aunts used to do. And that fluffy, red-grey tail — hmmm…a nice winter hat a la Davy Crockett style could be in the making.
(The beginning of the seasonal war with the squirrels here.)
September 21, 2011
Yesterday the squirrels told me it was time to harvest my birdseed sunflowers. Apparently, they’re better at keeping track of what’s ready than I am.
At the beginning of the month, the honeybees made their beelines to the tall, yellow, nodding flower heads. There, they gathered their fill of pollen and nectar. And, they spread around the pollen, helping these wondrous flowers form large, protein-packed seeds. In just a few short weeks, the pretty yellow centers began to fade as the black and white striped seeds began to fatten.
Yesterday, a pesky squirrel found them. Or maybe he found them weeks ago and had just been waiting for the perfect moment to dive into the delicious seedy feast. In any case, I caught him in the act of devouring a batch of seed from a head he had chewed off one of the tall flower stalks.
Damn fuzzy tailed little rat piggy. I’ve got your IPM number – HARVEST!
I chased him away. I gathered up the seed head he had harvested and made a note to harvest the rest soon — if possible, letting them spend a little longer drawing energy from the plant.
I placed the partially chewed seed-filled flower head in the greenhouse to dry it and keep it for the birds when winter snows bury the ground. Then, I went inside.
About an hour later, I went back out. And that darn rodent had chomped down another head, which I also gathered up to store, after chasing him away. I then cut down every remaining seed-laden flower head.
To harvest them, I usually cut the flower with about 12″-24″ of stem attached. The seeds can draw from this for a bit to “finish”, and by having the stalk dry with the flower, I have a built-in “hook” to use for looping the seed head into bare branches in winter to feed the birds. This makes for fast, easy work in freezing temps. And, it makes it a little more tough for squirrels and rats to steal the seeds from the trees. Usually, the little chickadees and other birds have an easier time of feeding directly from the face of the dried flower heads.
Now they’re all “curing” in the dry, warm greenhouse where they’ll keep wonderfully until winter.
And that squirrel?
Well, right now there’s food aplenty for him. It is the harvest season after all. He’s already chomped on a few of my tomatoes, which he now leaves alone. And, all around the neighborhood, he’ll find wild hazelnuts, oregon grape and many more food sources in great abundance.
So, squirrel, go find something else to eat. I’ll be the ant to your grasshopper. You and the birds will be relieved this winter when I set out these big, fat “Snack Seed” Sunflower seed heads (courtesy of Renee’s Garden Seeds).
…Assuming I don’t eat them first.
(Renee’s Garden provided this seed for free on a trial basis. No other compensation has been provided for this article.)
August 15, 2011
Last week this blog’s updates were all about food. But here’s a reminder: most all those delicious veggies are actually fruit. And without the flowers, we wouldn’t get those tasty nuggets. And, in many cases, without a visit from the bees to the flowers, well, the food wouldn’t form.
So, let’s take a quick peek at what’s blooming in the garden this August — from flowers the feed us to those that feed the bees to some that just look darn pretty!
July 28, 2011
My garden is giving me the blues. And that’s a good thing ’cause these blues come with berries. Very tasty, tart, sweet berries. Yep, our blueberries are coming in – pint after pint each day.
After getting next to nothing from our strawberries, which I adore. And while our raspberries produced like mad, but I don’t particularly like them. This bumper crop of blueberries makes me particularly happy.
The bees visited them early in the season & did their job well. The branches are nearly dragging the ground under the weight of so many fruits.
Oh, and that fruit! They’re sweet. They’re tart. They’re plump. They’re juicy. And, the birds can’t get to them.
The minute the bees were done pollinating the plants, I pulled out our bird netting and draped all of the berry bushes. It isn’t a pretty look, but it isn’t terribly ugly. And, it baffles the birds. I catch them sitting on nearby bushes, cocking their heads to look at the blueberries just beyond them. The birds also see the netting and unless they’re really stupid, they know that netting like that will trap them. So, they stay out.
And, I get to eat all those tasty berries. Hello berries & bye-bye grey-sky, cold summer blues!
If you’ve got blueberry bushes in your garden and haven’t checked the fruit lately, get out there. By now, you’ll probably see at least a few of those tasty morsels ready to pick — if the birds haven’t gotten to them first!
June 30, 2011
Here it is summer. The skies are grey. The wind is blowing. And, not a drop of useful rain is falling from the sky. Yet, even my potted tomatoes are 3′ tall. Or at least they were.
Up until a little while ago, many of my potted tomatoes were consolidated in my cold frame. At 3′ tall, they’re too big for me to shut the frame, but they were still in a protected spot, so I hadn’t moved them. The lid of the cold frame was propped wide open, securely. Or at least, I thought it was.
I was standing right beside the cold frame when a gust of wind finally blew the lid forward and shut — right on top of several tomato plants, crushing them. Some even had a few tiny fruit forming on them. Now they don’t.
That’s what I get for trusting that the cold frame lid would stay up even in this wind. Sure, the wind is blowing at the lids, pushing them into the open position. But one stray, whipping gust did manage to get around the back side and push that lid down. I should have just removed the lids, but I hadn’t.
Crack! Smash! Crap — topped tomatoes!
So what’s next? Well, I’ve got way more tomato plants than I really need — something in the neighborhood of 40 or 50 plants at my last rough count. And, none of the smashed plants were knocked back to a complete loss. Only one took a really hard hit. So, I cut out the damaged area — leaving that one hard-hit plant looking really measly. And, we’ll see how the plants bounce back. Only four of them really got banged up good in this stupid accident.
The tallest ones are now far from the cold frame. The shorter ones are in the cold frame, but the lid is partially shut and well latched, so hopefully we won’t see anymore pesky cold frame or wind tomato “blight” this season!