Saturday, July 31, 2010

Birds, Bees and Blooms

Yesterday, I stalked a hummingbird in the garden.
I tried and tried to get a good picture of him (or her?), but he was so fast.
He also didn't like it when I got too close to him, so I had to sneakily zoom in from a distance.

I'm not sure if it is the same pair, or their children, but a pair of hummingbirds nest in the lilac bush on the edge of my yard. They have been raising their tiny little babies in the same spot for at least 5 years.

This was the best pic I took of him.

Here is his pretty green back.

He really likes every painted lady (flower).

He is so tiny!

Some water lilies in my pond.

Summer sunflower.
Doesn't that just look like pure Summer?

Garden Update: July 2010

At this time of year, there are so many things ready in the garden at the same time.
The peas are almost done. I will pick the final harvest today and pull out the vines.
The onions are almost ready to be pulled and cured for winter storage.
The cucumbers and tomatoes are literally hanging on the vines.
I pick a big bowlful every other day.
The peppers are just starting to ripen and turn colors - red, purple, orange and yellow.
The summer squash is also producing a bunch of nice fat squashes every day.
I didn't take a pic of them, but the eggplant is really, really producing well this year.
Yum! Lots of eggplant = lots of tasty winter meals with roasted eggplant.
The carrots, kale, lettuce and broccoli are also producing huge daily handfuls.
Kiwi and Tansy are happy about lots of fresh bunny munchies!
They are especially loving the big bunches of fresh basil I pick for them every morning.
They also like to eat flowers: pansy, rose petals, phlox and hollyhocks leaves (I like the flowers too much to share with them!).
Looking at the garden from my deck, facing south-east.

Looking at the garden, facing south-west.

In the foreground of this picture, you can see my attempt at a second crop of peas.
They produced about 1/2 a cup, but only grew 1 foot high.
The spring planting grew 3 1/2 feet high and produced about 6 cups.
6 cups is not enough peas! I always want more peas!
Unfortunately, they take up vertical space in the garden and I have trouble finding more room for them to grow where they won't be shaded by other vertical growers.

Facing west.
I let some volunteer radishes grow and go to seed in the path.
They are supposed to keep squash vine borers and other pests away.
It worked last year, but it does make the path very messy looking.

Tomatoes on the left and green beans on the right.
Everyone else seems to be picking their green beans, but mine are not ready yet.
Boo! I love green beans!

There was a wilt of some kind that attacked my tomatoes, but I sprayed them and mulched them with grass clippings and they seem to be doing better.

Cucumbers on the trellis.
I love picking a cucumber hanging eight feet up in the air.
So funny!

In this pic we have from left to right - tomatillo, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, painted lady beans, green beans, basil and more tomatoes. There is also some kale, but you can't see it from this angle.
Can I just say I'm glad that I made all my paths 3 feet wide?
All that fussy work this Spring, setting out the beds, was worth it.

Chinese 5 color peppers.
They are starting to change color!

Looking east.
Can you see Catty? She is underneath the arch on the left side.
In this pic - peas, onions, strawberries, kale, eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes, summer squash, sunflowers, green beans and radishes gone to seed.

That's all folks!
I hope you enjoyed the update.
If you have an update on your garden, please leave a link in the comment section, so I can check it out. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bunny Boys Bonded

This is how I found the boys snuggling in the morning.
They are bonded!

For a while I was wondering why I had ever thought about getting Tansy a buddy, but now when I see Tansy and Kiwi together I know it was a good idea.
They are double trouble, but their sweet little faces are worth it!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bonding Tansy and Kiwi - First Steps

Ok I couldn't wait any longer.

So far this is what has happened:
I set up a space for them in one of my spare bed rooms. Tansy had never been allowed into this room, so it is neutral. 2 of everything - litter box, water, pile of fresh veggies, hay, phone book, stuffed toy, diggy towels, cardboard boxes.

Then I put both buns in a cardboard box with a cover. I shook them up, went outside, went inside, went into the garage, jogged in place, ect.
Then I dumped (gently) them both into the new room.
They sniffed each other. Hopped around a bit. Then they fought. Lost some fur. I didn't stop them. Then they hopped around. Then they fought. Tansy hid in a box. Kiwi hid on the other side of the room. Then they fought. Lost some more fur. Then they went to different sides of the room and lay down. They took a 2 hour break where they didn't do anything.
Kiwi got up and ate some hay and used the litter box.
Tansy hid in a box.
Kiwi ate.
Tansy ate.
Kiwi came over to sniff Tansy. Tansy thumped at Kiwi. Kiwi went away.
Kiwi came back - Tansy thumped. Repeat 50 times.
Kiwi chased Tansy - Tansy hid in a box and thumped.
Kiwi ate. Tansy ate.
Kiwi chased Tansy. Tansy thumped and hid in a box.
Then they chased/thumped/ate and are still doing that combination.

I checked them over once for injuries, but other than that I haven't touched them. So far it seems to be going pretty well.
This is a photo time line of their interactions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Squash Pickles

I made these last year and they were very popular at parties during the winter.
Last year's recipe was very spicy, but I forgot to write down the recipe.
This recipe is pretty good, but not quite like last year's recipe.
Thankfully I have a lot of summer squash growing, so I will be able to continue experimenting.
I always grow the same variety of summer squash: Butterstick. It stays sweet and tender even when the squash get large.
I used chiles from my Chinese 5 Color pepper plant. The chiles are supposed to change color as they mature. So far they are mostly purple with one or two yellow ones.
Summer Squash Pickles
2 lbs yellow summer squash - cut into 2" sticks
1 cup sliced onions - 2 small
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dry ginger
1 tsp celery seed
2 cups water
1 cup vinegar
optional: small hot chiles
Combine squash and onions, set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a large sauce pot and bring to a boil. Add squash and onions; boil for 10 min. Poke each chile with a knife, before adding one chile to each jar. Pack hot vegetables and liquid into hot jars; leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Process for 10 mins in a boiling water canner.
Makes 5 pints.
Cut up summer squash.

I added a few slices of green chile to the brine.

Purple chile. Sadly they turned yellowish after the jars were processed.
I really wanted the purple/yellow contrast.
This is Minnesota after all - home of the Vikings!

Bringing back up to a boil.

Ready for the lid and canner.

All done. You can see the color of the processed chile in the bottom left corner jar.

Yum! Summer squash pickles!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Introducing: Kiwi

A new bunny was added to the family on Tuesday.
It's a funny story.
On Sunday I was talking to one of my friends, that used to work at the local animal shelter, about a bunny I had noticed advertised on Petfinder. She said it was probably already gone, but offered to check on Monday for me. I said, "That's Ok I would call them myself on Monday".
So Monday: I was very busy at work, but I finally found a minute to call them - at 2pm. The people at the shelter said he was still available and I could come and look at him at 4pm when I got off of work. So I went to the shelter at 4pm and they said, "Oops! Sorry he was adopted just after you called."
So I went home all bummed out that I didn't even get to see the rabbit.
I called my friend and told her about the whole adventure. She says, "Oh yeah, I called around 2:40pm and it was adopted."
She and I made plans to hang out the next day, Tuesday, and she said she had a present for me.
I thought it was a fire pit, because she had hinted before that she was going to buy one for me.
Finally, Tuesday we go out for lunch and she still doesn't say anything about what the present is.
I'm still talking about the rabbit and how surprised I was that it would get adopted in only 2 hours.
My friend is very quiet and acting kind of weird.
Her sister, who is with us too, finally says, "Just tell her already!"
I think you can guess the rest of the story!
She adopted Kiwi for me!
I was totally surprised.

He is a big boy. He weighs about 7lbs and is about twice the size of Tansy (my other bunny).
He was neutered on July 13th, so I plan on waiting a few more weeks, to let his hormones calm down, before I attempt to bond Tansy and Kiwi together.
He was found in some one's backyard and the shelter thought he was 2 years old, but I think he is a little younger.
The shelter was only feeding him pellets and he is overweight, so now he is on a hay and fresh veggie diet.

He is doing very well with his litter box training.
He had no trouble figuring out where to pee, but he pooed outside of the box twice.
I just put all the poos into the litter box and now he knows where to go.
So far we haven't had any more accidents.

Now a few pics of Tansy.

As you can see he is the king of this castle, so bonding/introducing Kiwi might be a little difficult.

Isn't he cute?!?

Catty and Tansy planning their next vacation.

Best friends!

Catty weighs about 7 pounds, but looks much smaller than Kiwi.
Tansy weighs about 4 pounds.
I can't wait for them to all be bonded and friends!