A Natural Bird Feeder

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

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My husband likes to plant sunflowers around the periphery of the garden. This beauty is a volunteer from years past. Soon it will develop seeds in the center and feed the songbirds in our yard.

We don’t leave out traditional bird feeders during spring and summer because it draws all kinds of wildlife who also love to munch on our garden produce. Instead, in the summer we have the sunflowers to give some natural food to my feathered friends.

 

The other flowers in the yard are flourishing as well. Some of them are perrenials and others are annuals I plant in pots around the patio. That way I can move them around for  sun, rain, and aesthetics.DSC02592 DSC02595

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy summer.

 

Garden Art

peppers as art

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

Vegetables are works of art as well as sustenance. Last year, we had an abundance of cayenne peppers so I decided they would become a decoration in the kitchen. I strung them up and hung them in front of a cupboard with some of my favorites dishes. When I need a little zest while cooking, I pull off one of the dried beauties and my artful creation becomes a part of our dinner.

decorating and cooking with cayenne

We had some small pumpkins crop up earlier in the summer – we’re not sure where they came from, but they’re too small to eat. In contrast, while we were on vacation some of our yellow squash turned into yellow bats. I turned both into a centerpiece.

garden centerpieces

My husband doesn’t like to be outdone in the decorating department. Since he does grow all the vegetables, I guess he needs an outlet for his artistic abilities. It’s just not the way I would do it.

vegetable decorating by Robert

Fall Flowers

Once upon a pond

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

As summer fades into fall, the flowers continue to bloom. We inherited a small pond with our house, but the pond was not visible from the house or even the yard. It didn’t make sense to us, and we couldn’t keep the maple trees’ dropping from clogging up both the oxygen and the pump. Chopping down the maple trees was never an option, but filling in the pond was. I planted annuals in there this summer, but hope to get some wildflower seeds in the ground in late fall. Maybe next year the “once upon a pond” will be bursting with wildflowers.

sunflower as bird feeder

Sunflowers grace the edge of our vegetable garden. Right now the bees are drunk on their pollen, but within a few weeks, the birds will be munching on their seeds. We never know what we’re going to get when we plant the sunflowers, but each year the color and variety surprise and delight us.

We plant annuals in the front of the house, alongside all the inherited landscaping plants. Some of the choices made by the former owners make no sense such as planting dozen of hosta plants in full sun. They look fantastic for about one week in early spring, and then the sun turns them brown and yellow. Slowly, I plan to replace them with full sun-loving plants. We like to plant marigolds because they are easy to start from seed, and they bloom all through the summer and fall. This year we added dahlias. Most of the plants survived the extreme heat and drought of our summer.

dahlias and marigolds started from seed

Last year we had lots of zinnias, but this year none of the seeds took. However, some volunteers popped up out front along with two tomato plants (we used compost under the mulch). We usually pull out the tomato volunteers, but this year we had some empty spots and decided to see what happens. There are little tomatoes on the plants. We might be able to have fresh tomatoes through October – since it’s only two plants, covering them shouldn’t be too difficult if we do get an early frost.

volunteers

Someone gave us a packet of cosmos seeds so my husband gave them a try. They’ve been a beautiful addition to the front yard this year.

cosmos gift

I savor these final days of summer, and with a little help from our flowers, fall will be welcomed with color and beauty as the days flutter by.

the original flutter by

 

Early June and the Garden is Growing

The garden is growing at a rapid pace. We only have four more tomato plants to put in the ground and then it’s time to sit back and wait for the bounty. We have frozen 40 bags of spinach, and I still have two bags in the refrigerator. Last night I steamed some to go with fish and rice, and it didn’t even make a dent in one of the bags. I’m going to take one of the bags to a friend this morning because I’m not sure we can eat it fast enough. Spinach will keep in the refrigerator for several days if you put it away dry. We don’t wash the leaves until we’re ready to eat them.

Last night we also ate our first cucumbers. They were about 3-inches longer than this one still growing. The two we picked were crisp and juicy at the same time. I can’t wait to make pickles this year. Last year we didn’t have enough to do anything so I missed both the dill and chips I put up.

Our first raspberry! Can’t wait to taste these red delights fresh from the garden, but I’ll have to wait a couple of weeks (maybe sooner).

Onions are popping up out of the ground. As soon as I finish using up the store-bought varieties, I’ll be heading to the garden and using them as I need them. They store very nicely in our basement, too. And the onions will be wonderful in all the sauces I make with our tomatoes and peppers. Speaking of tomatoes. . .they are looking green and healthy and developing blossoms. So is the zucchini which should be overflowing in the garden any minute. I have a great zucchini relish recipe we’ve made two years in a row. I just opened the last jar of it this week. Our favorite way to use it (besides in tuna and potato salad) is to put it on fish before baking. I’ll share the recipe when I start making it.

And the flowers – my husband started all of these from seed.Sunflower – ready to burstthe first dahlia bloomAnd the front beds – marigolds and cosmos from seed

It’s a great time of year for sure. And the best time to take a breather before the work starts up again. Last year we had 23 tomato plants, and it was a bit much keeping up with the produce. This year I’ve asked my husband to cut back, so he’s only put in 18! We’ll still be rolling in the red come August.

How’s your garden growing?