Wednesday, July 23, 2008

July treats

Many shades of lavender
White, purple, pink, it's all blooming right now and all lovely. The white lavender smells yummy, like honey. There was a lavender festival in Athol last weekend, and once again I missed it. I will have to go next year...

New friends

We picked up Wheat, as named by nephew, yesterday, and walked home with him tucked into my shirt. Wheat doesn't quite fit him, so we're considering the name Indy. He's the runt of the litter, and he has an independent streak. His mama disappeared around the same time as Kiki. Indy is Kiki's nephew, maybe that is why Rusty is tolerating him so well. They'll be best friends in no time, and keep each other warm this winter.

Amazingly, it did rain, and maybe it isn't so surprising since Slammy and best friend are at camp. Doesn't it always rain at camp? It seems to be pretty much guaranteed.

Vegie delite
I had the first baby zucchini. I figured out they need a lot more water than they were getting. The onions and potatoes are blooming. I don't think that's a good thing for the onions, I'll have to remove those pretty blossoms.
Speaking of pretty blossoms...

Campanula rotundifolia - Harebell
Trifolium pratense - Red clover
Monarda didyma - Bee balm

Linaria vulgaris - Dalmation Toadflax (a noxious weed, but pretty)
The sun has come out of the clouds. It's 67 degrees at 1:30 pm.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Chalcedon CheckerspotOur most common butterfly right now.

This one is rarer.

If you like identifying butterflies and moths, check out this site. The one above, I discovered, is a California Tortoise Shell, (photo credit Jr.). My Golden Nature Guide to Butterflies and Moths, published in 1964, is a little out of date and didn't have it. But it helped me narrow down the search. It has many common species, like this caterpillar of the White-marked Tussock Moth, which it says "is a serious pest of many deciduous trees."

I'm hoping to see the huge moth that visits the bee balm at dusk, this year. I'll try to get a picture, it's as big as a hummingbird.

It's 65 degrees and breezy at 9:15 am.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

July colors

OK, time to move on.
Too many bugs, not enough birds, where did they all go? They must not like the heat. One of these days I'm going to check the nestboxes.Coco doesn't mind, he's been feasting on grasshoppers. What did he think when this Checkerspot landed on him? Bugs land on him a lot, and he doesn't seem to mind. He's very patient. It's all part of his plan. Next thing you know, they're down the hatch.

Coconut sunbathing in the clover.
That was a good salad.

It's harvest time at last. We started that lettuce inside in...March? It was a long time ago. The bok choi, spinach and arugula all went to seed. It's the same every year, we don't have the right climate for those crops. Cabbage seems to be ok though. The carrots are coming along, if a bit crookedly.

This is a funny, pretty gallairdia that must have come from a seed mixture.

The hummingbirds have been visiting the bee balm, they love red! Who doesn't?

Purple! The lavender is blooming now, and the oregano is about to.Don't forget pink! This is the wild pink spiraea, which bloomed profusely this year.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More arachnids

These boys came for a visit one morning. I've never seen males here before, I didn't know they hung out together. Slammy says they were fighting over the birdfeeder.

The next day, Jr. found this on his neck. It hadn't been on too long and he pulled it off himself.

I looked up deer ticks and I don't think this is one. It looks like a Dermacentor andersoni, or Rocky Mountain wood tick, which is not a vector of Lyme disease. It's a vector of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other diseases, which can be fatal.

On the positive side, I found out that guinea fowl are a good control measure, clearing an area of ticks lickity split, and yellow jackets too! They also make good watch dogs and prefer roosting in the trees so they don't even need housing. I thought we were done with fowl, but maybe not...

It's 72 degrees and windy at 12:00 pm.

Monday, July 7, 2008


If you have arachnophobia, shield your eyes.

These hatchlings were on the foxglove right next to the house. Lucky I saw them in time to transport the group to the back of the property.
This may be the mama. She's nearby, nestled into the corner of the house. For someone who is terrified of spiders, it's big of me to let her stay. However, after seeing her babies, I think she may have to be relocated. What if she's a Hobo?

This jumper was also in the neighborhood.And this daddy long leg.It's been a good year for the spiders. Oh dear...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Knapweed Revolution

It's that time of year again. Time to do battle with the knapweed. It hasn't flowered yet, but it's tall enough to spot. When I go out on a picking expedition I get on long sleeves and pants, a scarf, hat, and gloves. I chew on a bit of raw garlic before heading out as further protection from the mosquitoes. (Don't come around when I'm picking knapweed.)

Knapweed has been a part of our lives for seven years. First I just thought it was a pretty purple flower. Then a neighbor told me it was a noxious weed. Huh? What's that? I found out. It's a very bad, naughty plant that you must get rid of if it's on your property. We've been doing our best. We've tried pulling, poisoning, mowing, but nothing eradicates it. We keep about a third of our property nearly free of it. It takes many hours of pulling just to do this much. I've despaired of ever getting rid of it completely. Last year I offered to pay the kids 10 cents per plant pulled, but realized my mistake when 160 plants were produced in less than 30 minutes. One day we were thinking of wild schemes to do it in and came up with a solution: go back in time and prevent it from ever arriving here. Jr. wrote a riveting sci-fi thriller about it, called The Knapweed Revolution.

Well, maybe we won't have to invent a time machine, because now there are bugs. Flies and weevils have been released that actually like the toxic plant, and this year is the first time I've noticed lots of them on our plants. There is hope!

Isn't he cute?

But to tell the truth, when I'm out there pulling knapweed, I actually enjoy it. Even if the darn stuff keeps coming back year after year, making big piles of it gives me a sense of accomplishment. It seems to be in human nature to revel in destruction of an enemy. And I do love to kill knapweed! No guilt accompanies it. I'm very angry with the deer and moose when they eat my plants, but I could never kill them. Knapweed does not have a cute fuzzy face or a heartbeat. It's more like a robot, silently outcompeting and poisoning everything in its way until there's nothing left but knapweed. It is a truly perfect villain.

Now, with the help of the bugs, I say, let the knapweed revolution begin!

For information on knapweed and other invasive weeds and pests go to this great website.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lovely July

This is the best month of summer, it's full of life and color and SUN! The beans and squash have sprouted in the greenhouse, 7 days after planting. Yesterday I lifted the flaps at the bottom and that made it a lot cooler in there. The weather has been hot, but we got some relief Tuesday night with a thunderstorm and rain. The beans in the fenced garden are growing well, but the squash still has not come up. The lettuce and cabbage are finally over transplant and cold weather shock.

The peas are ready. I put them and bok choi in ramen, and miso is a healthy substitute for the flavor packet.

Bug update:
The mosquitos are terrible, and the rain will help them stick around; but chewing fresh garlic is a great repellent, and it repels people too, as an added bonus.
The grasshoppers are big enough to eat now and Coconut is well fed again. They like to eat the mullein by the back door, which is handy for a quick Coco snack.

Feng Failure
The fountain is in its new home in the missing "wealth" area. Ignorant in the ways of Feng Shui when we built our house, we made a terrible error. Making "L" shapes where two sections of a house meet and there's an indented space in the floor plan can be disastrous. In our case, it was in the wealth section, big surprise. Not only that, but we have glass front and back doors lining up, so you can see right through the house, the"money in--money out" set up. Tell me about it. But there are remedies. Mirrors, fountains, crystals. And remember guys! Put the toilet seat lids down if you don't want your money to get flushed!

Flower power
Oxeye Daisy and Coreopsis


Neon Cowboy Mini Rose

Tidy Tips
Moje Hammarberg Rugosa Rose (smells yummy)

Slammy's Gourd

Sage and English Lavender

It's 81 degrees, partly cloudy at 12:00 pm.