Pests – Sawfly

Sawflies are turning some of my rose leaves into skeletons by eating the flesh away. The nasty little creatures have attacked every rose bush to some degree. I try to grow organically so I just pick them off and drop them in a can of water. The sawflies are extremely small and it takes a bit of up-close searching to find them; they blend in perfectly with the green of the leaves. Gardens Alive has a good tip on their answer page concerning sawflies.

“On roses and similar plants, handpick the pests, spray them off with sharp streams of water early in the morning (knock them down and they can’t get back up), or spray neem or one of the new spinosad products.” Gardens Alive

When I notice a skeletonized leaf I check the rose all over and pick off the sawflies. So far I don’t have anything near an infestation, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can keep them under control. The roses are beautiful in May and June as they come into bloom. I don’t want their appearance marred by ruined foliage.

Plant & Phlutters – The Fennel Cafeteria

The fennel survived the winter and is a cloud of softest, hazy foliage in the Square Foot Garden. I was admiring it when I spotted a contrasting strand of something black on the foliage.

Could it be? Yes! A swallowtail caterpillar snacking on the fronds. Not only one caterpillar was in the midst of the cloud of fennel, but over half a dozen. I’ve never noticed swallowtail caterpillars so early in the season. I am hoping that the density of the fennel will protect the caterpillars from predators.

 

Planting – Mango Season

The photograph is a bit blurry, but I think you can see the small mango sprout in the center. I have sprouted and grown mango pits in the past, but the small trees didn’t grow quickly enough for me, and I didn’t continue on with them. I’m going to try once again, and this time start an earlier fertilizing schedule. I’ll update later in the season.

Growing a Mango Pit

 

 

Pheathers – Shore Birds

Sea Gulls

We were able to do a little weekend fishing at the Delaware Bay in Fortescue. There were hundreds of shore birds on the beaches eating the eggs of the horseshoe crabs. We saw many varieties, and I hope I have the identification correct. Horseshoe crabs, once endangered, are a major source of food for migrating birds. “The fate of some species is tied to these horseshoe crabs.” ~Sea Around You

Ruddy Turnstone and Sandpiper

This was the first time I’ve photographed the Ruddy Turnstone wearing it’s breeding colors. The birds almost resemble calico cats. Their colors are bright and beautiful.

Ruddy Turnstone

 

Sanderling

 

Sandpiper

This cormorant seemed to be craning his long neck to search for food in the water beneath him.

Cormorant

An informative article on shore birds can found at New Jersey Shorebirds.

Psalm – Moon Rise Over the Pines

“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!” ~Psalm 148:3

A beautiful moon rose in golden splendor this evening. What a glorious display of God’s Creation.

“The May Full Moon is known as Flower Moon to signify the flowers that bloom during this month. Other names for the Full Moon in May are Corn Planting Moon, and Milk Moon from Old English/Anglo-Saxon.” ~TimeandDate.com

This post is part of Becca’s Sunday Trees.

Pheathers – Moth

One bonus of spring and summertime are the moths I find on my front door screen in the morning. Drawn by the porch light, they seem to be at rest in the early hours before moving on. The moths are usually at eye level giving me a good look at the complexities of their feathered antennae and the scales that mimic fuzzy fur when seen with the naked eye.

This moth on my front door is part of Norm’s Thursday Doors.

Perplexities – What’s in Front of You?

What’s in front of you that you aren’t seeing?

“The hardest thing to see is what is in front of your eyes.” ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time will know that I am always on the lookout for Praying Mantis pods. I usually find a few in the fields and forests in the winter months.

Imagine my surprise when I planted my tomatoes and found a surprise on one of the cages. Right in my back yard, in plain sight, was a perfect Praying Mantis pod. How did I not see it?

Quick Tip – Two on Tuesday/Apples, Vase Scum, and Baking Soda

My grandchildren love apples cut into wedges for snacking. Unfortunately, apples are on the list for ‘dirty’ fruits due to pesticide residue. The apple my youngest grand-daughter is holding in the photograph is an organic Gala apple. If it was not grown organically I could remove most of the outer pesticides by a baking soda soak. Washing away what has been absorbed by the inner fruit is pretty much impossible.

“The longer pesticides sit on fruits and vegetables, the deeper they’re absorbed, and the harder it is to remove them, he says…consider submerging your produce in a solution of one teaspoon of baking soda and two cups of water for two minutes or more (the longer you soak, the more chemicals you get rid of). Rinse in tap water again before eating.” ~ Consumer Reports/Easy Way to Remove Pesticides.

I also put baking soda to use when removing soap scum from vases. I try soaking first in bleach, but if that doesn’t work I sprinkle in a little baking soda and add straight white vinegar. Be prepared for some quick foaming action.

This is a good trick if you misplace your bottle brush. (Mine is hiding from me right now.) If needed, I will repeat the steps until the scum is gone.

Plants – FOTD and Mother’s Day Basket

I found this Senecio rowleyanus/String of Pearls succulent, also known as String of Beads and the Rosary Plant, at a local garden shop this year. Nestled among trays of annuals, this odd looking plant immediately drew my eye. String of Pearl plants are easy to grow, as are most succulents. A hands-off approach is usually best for succulents, with infrequent watering and good drainage a must. More information on growing String of Pearls can be found on Gardening 101.

The succulent is a perfect fit for this bright parrot planter. The planter has held several plants, but none so well suited to it as the String of Pearls and its cascade of bright green beads. I also love the flower the plant produces, a small white orb with brilliant stamens. The String of Pearls blossom is my Flower of the Day.

I also wanted to say a grateful thank you to my son for the lovely New Guinea hanging basket he gave me for Mother’s Day.

Projects – Tin Can Upcycle Part IV & Winter Sowing Update

Since one of my goals for the blog is to be honest when a project fails me I must tell you about the crash of my tin can contraption. The cans are still in perfect condition, but the wire hanging apparatus has crashed. It held up great…through rain, strong wind, but it could not hold up to me grabbing it in mid-fall to save myself from hitting the ground. I did end up on the ground, the tin can hanger hit the ground too. Happily, I am fine, and the cans are all fine. Only one plant was jostled out of it’s can and it was easily replanted. The wire apparatus broke into several pieces. I could have fixed it, but anticipating another disaster, hung my colorful cans on the fenceposts surrounding my garden. I really like them here! We can see them from the back window and my husband also said he thought they looked good around the garden. Live and learn! Don’t try to save yourself when you fall by grabbing something even remotely rickety.

While I was near the garden with my camera I thought it a good time to update my winter-sown lettuce progress. It’s growing so fast I’m going to have to start filling bags to give away. It’s delicious and tastes great mixed with organic romaine hearts from the grocer.

PS: If you’re wondering how I fell the truth is I have no idea. One minute I was picking flowers from the cans to press, the next I was on my way down.

Phlowers – Flower of the Day/Poinsettia

I know it’s a bit strange, but this poinsettia plant is my Flower of the Day. It has held onto its colorful bracts since November, and is still looking good. I think it deserves a second chance at life outside among the ivy. If I can coax it to grow after the bracts fall off or brown, I will try to get the green leaves to color up again, although I have heard it is near impossible. Still…I can dream.

Project – Tin Can Upcycle Part III

I’m grateful for the requests I’ve had for a part three of this project to show how the tin can rack was put together. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I kept my eyes open for wiry baskets for weeks when I visited thrift stores. I found a set in the local Goodwill for $3.99.

I used a Shepherd’s hook for my hanging apparatus and placed it near the corner of the porch where I intended to display the cans. This was a providential choice explained later in the post.

Painting the cans was easy. Rain also created a ‘happy accident’ while they dried.’

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” Bob Ross

The moisture, on paint not yet set, rippled the finish, and gave the cans a crackled appearance without the purchase of an expensive crackle medium.

Leather strips, purchased long ago in a large bag of scraps, were the best choice for hanging the cans. I threaded them through the side holes and knotted the ends. Leather is durable and withstands tearing on the sharp edges of the can as they pass through.

My hardest problem to solve was how to hang the cans on the rack. Threading the leather strips around the weave of the baskets was an option, but if a plant dies, I want to be able to remove the can, re-pot with another, and attach to the rack again. S-hooks would work, but are expensive; I searched for an alternative. I found this in a 12-pack of wire shower hooks. These were inexpensive, easy to use, and matched well when sprayed with a coat of matte black spray paint. I needed 2 packs of these.

A few baskets seemed wobbly at their junctures, so I strengthened them with long plastic strip ties and cut the extra length away once attached.

I ran into a problem once I had the cans planted; the weight of all eighteen was too heavy for the Shepherd’s hook and the structure began to lean forward. NO! An oversized eye screw was needed to stabilize the contraption. This is where my location proved providential. I attached the eye screw into the wooden porch railing and secured the Shepherd’s hook with two plastic strip ties.

Out of necessity I will check each plant daily. The growing area is small and will dry out quickly. Updates will be posted later in the season. This strange tower of wire baskets and cans is certainly worthy of being entered into Kammie’s Oddball Challenge.

Projects – Tin Can Upcycle Part II

After the holes are punched in the tin cans it’s time to begin painting with acrylic paint. There will be residue from glue on the can, this can be removed with a heat gun and rag. I didn’t bother since I knew the cans would only be used for one season.

It took three coats of paint to get the look I wanted. Even before I had finished painting all the cans in pastel rainbow shades, rust had begun to work its way through the first layers. No bother…it adds a bit of shabby chic to the look of the project. I was very careful of the sharp edges inside the cans, but even being aware didn’t stop me from getting three small cuts on my fingers from the razor-sharp edges. I should have put a piece of masking tape over the holes in the sides as this is where I cut myself every time while painting.

The look of the cans is even better than I had hoped. The rack I wired together from thrift store inbox trays is perfect and holds eighteen cans. Stringing leather strips through the side holes gives me a strong hanger for the weight of the cans. I’m happy with my project and pleased it gives me more room to grow flowers specifically designated for flower pressing.

Project – Tin Can Upcycle Part I

I make a lot of spaghetti sauce to use and freeze. Each time I stir up a batch of sauce I clean and store the 29-ounce cans the crushed tomatoes come in. Ofttimes, when I upcycle the cans in projects I will need to add holes of some kind to them.

The easiest way I have found to do this is to fill the can with water and freeze it first.  This gives me a solid mass to punch into, but is also easily removed. (Melted in this case.)  The one drawback is the flat bottom of the can becomes curved by the pressure of the freezing water, lowering the level of the water several centimeters. The bottom is easily flattened back out with a hammer.

I am making a flower rack out of upcycled cans and some wire baskets I found at the local thrift store. I will need to punch at least four drainage holes in the bottom of each can, and also two side holes for a leather hanging strap.

A common Philips screwdriver is perfect for punching the holes.

The bottom of the can is easy to puncture, the sides a little trickier because the round can is inclined to roll. I find grass the easiest grounding surface. Punching holes into the can with the screwdriver assures the sharp edges stay inside the can.

When I’m finished with the hole-punching I turn the cans upside down and let the ice melt and drain. Part II of my project will be posted tomorrow.

Perspective & Phlowers – Colors

“The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.” Revelation 21:18-20

I love to imagine the colors and beauty of heaven. I am so often reminded of what will come when I wander around my garden admiring the flowers of God’s creation. I get excited watching a flower bud form and then bloom. God has filled the earth with such wondrous colors and sights, oh my, what will heaven be like?

Yesterday, unsure of the direction we were driving, we accidentally found a new garden center. (Sometimes the best moments/places/friendships in life appear when we think we are lost.) I am always on the lookout for a type of small dahlia called harlequins. These dahlias come in an array of bright colors. The feature that really gets me excited about this type of dahlia is the collar of ruffles around the center. I can’t wait to grow and press these beauties this year. The Harlequin Dahlias are my Flower of the Day.

I came upon a great article with growing tips for dahlias while researching this post. If you grow dahlias you might enjoy reading Longfield Gardens: 8 Tips for Growing Better Dahlias.

Pheathers – Brown Thrasher

I saw this beautiful bird near my feeder this week. He is not a normal visitor to my yard. Once again I relied on my camera’s zoom feature to get a good look at him. I was able to identify him as a Brown Thrasher. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has good information on the Brown Thrasher and also has song recordings. Click on the link above for more on this beautiful bird.

Many of the Cornell Lab’s Bird Cams give you views into the newly-hatched baby birds. Here’s a link to the Red-tailed Hawks. Across the top of the page you can find more live bird cams to visit. Cornell Lab Bird Cams/Red-tailed Hawks.

Planting – Dahlia Tubers

I first published this dahlia collage in September of 2018. The passing months have not diminished my desire to plant several large dahlias in this year’s garden.

I purchased a few tubers in local garden centers, and decided to give them a head start for growing. I found several large pots, filled them with potting soil, and placed the tubers inside. Oh Happy Day! All of the tubers sprouted and grew. It’s time to plant them in the sunniest of garden beds.

Tall dahlias need stakes to stay upright in heavy rain. I read a great tip years ago that suggested putting a stake in place when you first plant the tubers. If you insert a stake after the dahlia tubers are planted and covered with soil you risk puncturing/tearing the tubers and killing the plant.

After I planted my dahlia and had my stake in place, I also took a precaution to protect my eyes. It’s so easy to forget about stakes and sticks jutting out of the ground when I weed or plant. I’ve had several close calls with my eyes, and have had stakes badly scrape my arms when weeding. To remind myself of their presence, and to add a bit of protection to the ragged ends, I place a seashell on the top of the stake.

I use seashells because I have boxes of them stored in the garage. All types of articles could be used to mark the top of the stakes, acorn tops, nuts, windmills, small cans painted in bright colors. The list is as endless as your imagination. Please do be careful with all types of stakes in the ground; I will always carry a scar on my leg from running into stake marking out a building site when I was a child. Sixteen stitches to close a wound leaves an impression that lasts a lifetime. Happy (and safe) gardening my friends!