Garden, Plant, Cook!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Around The Garden and New "Neighbors" Show Up.

Dear Folks,

While looking at a location for sowing my Roselle (Hibiscus Sabdraiffa) this year, this little guy (about 3/4 of an inch long) shot out across the soil!  If I had not been looking closely at the ground I would never have spotted him and probably stepped on him/her.  I have never seen a hatchling Praying Mantis before - usually much larger when I spot them.  It took me a bit to coax it onto a leaf to lift it up to a plant where I thought it would be safer.

The next "neighbor" showed up crisis mode and we came to its rescue, but first I want to follow up on my "Watering..." post the other day.

I mentioned in that post that I have at least one bed which is only watered once a week year round (rain does add some but not a lot), and while looking for a photo related to the "neighbor" I am about to discuss I realized this photo of another rescue last year clearly showed my chervil and cilantro growing in that once-a-week-watered bed - it was April.  This is "Bob" the Bobwhite who came to use for help with a string tied around his leg which almost strangulated the leg and was wrapped around the other one too.  After about a week of healing and getting stronger, he took off to hopefully parts safe and good for him.

So our newest "neighbor" - meet "Betty" the Bobwhite who showed up very early Tuesday morning this week.  Something was moving and I realized it was a bird and she hobbled over to me from about 8 or so feet away coming right to my feet, clearly in distress.  I picked her up thinking she might have a string on her leg (we think someone may be raising them nearby and these are escapees), but when I turned her over her feet and breast were filled with cholla thorns!!  The poor thing.  I started to pull them out then realized it should be a two person job, so I woke my Deane - not a morning person he showed up outside with different slippers on his feet - both of them for the left foot!! -- Humor aside he was able to pull the rest of the thorns out while I held her.  There was blood but she appeared to be whole, so we took her over to the bird watering dish. While Deane poured some seed down I dipped her beak into the water dish and she began to drink - I think she spent about a minute and a half drinking.  We think the thorns were in her for quite a while and she must have been dehydrated badly. [The picture was taken a little later - when she had gone back to the watering dish after ducking under cover somewhere.]

"Betty" was around off and on delighting us with her presence and we watched her go from hobbling to walking without difficulty very quickly.  Yesterday at twilight about 60 hours after her rescue she lifted off the ground like a Harrier Jet and shot out over the tree tops.  I was hoping to see her this morning, but she may have decided to go find other digs.  Wishing her safe life.

We think of our gardens as an oasis and quite obviously critters do also.

The other new "neighbor" is a bee type I've not seen in the gardens before AND our bee house - about 8 +/- years old is now being used.  About half of the "condos" are occupied.  I wondered if the new bee might be the major tenant but on asking and trying mightily to ID the bee, I have a couple of guesstimates.  One good, one not good and neither would occupy the bee house.  The Cuckoo Bee is what you might guess - a hive invader which takes over a honeybee hive and eventually kills is.  The coloring of the Cuckoo Bee does not seem to match my best photo - this new bee buzzes around like on a caffeine high.  They make the hover flies - which we have also (beneficial insect) - look like they did NOT have their caffeine fix.  So my best photo of the new bee which I am hoping is a species called the Longhorn Bee and is an independent ground nester and pollinator.  BTW The flower is on my Barbados (Acerola) tree and the tree is just covered in flowers and fruit coming on.  Had one of the cherries this morning, while trying to unsuccessfully get another shot of the bee.  So had a cherry instead!

Other Fun Things Around the Garden.

Caper Spent Bloom, new flower bud and from the spent bloom - at the left is the beginning fruit a berry like an olive.  Some of my friends and I growing capers think it is more productive to wait for the fruit to pickle than the buds.

I have Jerusalem Artichokes growing in the ground in a patch and a pot.  The pot is filled with new growth.

Cilantro is flowering.  I have been using even the flower tips in my meals, but time to let them go to seed for harvesting for re-sowing in the fall and also to use the spice.

I have been checking my garlic regularly for sign of the scapes, the flower stalk and so far no sign on the two regular varieties.  I did cut the scapes from my Elephant Garlic a week or so ago.  I am concerned that our warm winter has once again caused the garlic to fail to send up a flower so I pulled two - one from each variety - to let dry and see what is usable.  If the cloves do not form, I may only get a large garlic bulb, which I would need to chop and dry or freeze.  This happened last year and the plants simply died back with nothing usable.  Keeping fingers crossed.   FYI I hang them in the shade of the trees to dry.

Harvested some carrots, beets and more asparagus the other day.  This year's warm winter really delayed the beet and carrot growth, so I'm going to try another area next year to see if adding more direct sun access (there is a lot in the existing bed, just maybe not enough to compensate) might help with warmer winters.

Happy to see my other Horseradish liking its new "digs".  Yes, that is a Poinsetta near by - I got several small plants in the little self-watering setups this past Christmas - gave some away, and transplanted my two (1 white (not visible in the picture) and 1 red to pots then they were doing so well, I put them in this bed which gets some shade in the summer.  So far they are loving it as the Horseradish is.

My Honeysuckle if blooming and when I remember I pick a flower and sip the nectar.  Fun childhood memories. This vine was so vigorous I recently pruned it back a lot.  It shares a bed with my bananas and a mango (grown from seed - doing okay).

I used the last of my Molokai Sweet Potato and made fries. Oh boy are they good.  I "cure" them in our laundry shed which works great because the hot water heater is in there keeping if warm and humid.

Speaking of capers.  Did you know you can use the immature Nasturtium seeds to make a "poor man's caper" using whatever pickling process you use?  They are even nice added to a salad dressing for a bit of horseradish taste.  Caution:  Pregnant or lactating women should not eat these or at a maximum just a few - you know few means 3 right?

Lastly in one of my prior posts I mentioned garden ornaments.  The first one is a small solar fountain.  Now I have a solar Chandelier!!!  I spotted this idea when visiting family over in Sun City and while out for a walk with my sis, I literally backed us up when I spotted something like this hanging in a front yard.  I wanted it badly.  So mys sis gave me one she had for a number of years not quite knowing what she would do with it.  My Deane had a deer-in-the-headlights look when I was explaining what I had in mind, but when I showed him the idea with one existing, but old, solar path light, he immediately took the wiring out and then we found some solar lights with a close enough color top to match the old bronze of the chandelier.

We are tickled with this.  Now when the late afternoon temps are too hot to sit on the patio, we wait until night and enjoy the evening.  Is this cool, or what?  That is the solar fountain in the foreground. Should have moved the watering can for the picture. :-)

I hope these inspire you to try new things in the garden.

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Don't Worry, Be Happy, Grow Food!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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