End of Summer and The Four Musketeers

Now that summer is over, there’s not much to do in the garden besides weed and get ready for next year. That means more time on here! I love fall and all the beautiful colors, but it means it’s time to wind down from all the spring and summer gardening fun. I have a ton of pictures from bugs to flowers to ducks and chickens from the last couple of months, so I’ll get to posting those soon. For now, here’s a little story of cuteness to get you by:

20161004_173141These guys hatched over the summer and became my babies. I call them my 3 musketeers and d’Artagnan (the chick). From Left to right, we have Penelope Pussycat, Charlotte (recently found out she’s a girl, not a boy), Daisy Duck (chick), and Pepe Le Pew. Pepe ended up imprinting on me. Imprinting is basically what happens when a bird hatches and thinks the first thing it sees is it’s mom. The little cutie would follow me around and snuggle with me. Who could resist a duck snuggle??

Penelope just did what Pepe did and ended up being my second baby. Then we have Daisy who imprinted on Pepe and just loves to snuggle with her duck brother and two sisters (and me).

Charlotte has a sad tale. She was the first hatched of 9 ducklings and the oldest of these four. Sadly, 8 were lost to a fox, or a raccoon, or a hawk. I don’t really know, since we have so many predators around. Poor Charlotte was left all alone, so I had to bring her inside with Pepe, Penolope, and Daisy. I’m very overprotective of all of them now and don’t let them wonder too far anymore.

They are all so much bigger then in this photo now, but still so cute!

Hummingbirds

I saw a hummingbird today, which is really exciting because I don’t have any feeders out. My mom has spotted a hummingbird twice before around our garden. My suspicion is the nice, red, juicy tomatoes we have. We have a lot of yellow and orange marigolds and nasturtiums around, but very little red flowers. Hummingbirds are attracted to red colors. I’m guessing that the tomatoes are attracting them and that’s cool with me. It’s a rare site and awesome to see a hummingbird hanging around the garden.

Just A Little Rant About Monarchs

I’m a little peeved. I was driving down my street a couple of weeks ago and noticed all the beautiful wildflowers and grass was cut all along the sides of the street. This may be insignificant to most people, but to me, it’s a really big deal because of all the milkweed and flowers growing there. It’s extremely important to have milkweed around because Monarch butterflies use them to lay eggs and it’s the only food source for the caterpillars after they hatch. Monarchs are not only pollinators, they are also an indicator species, which help gauge the health of the environment around them and us.

There are a number of reasons why towns and cities cut down roadside weeds, however, I think it’s extremely unnecessary in some cases, especially on a quite street like mine. Weeds are cut down to improve visibility, drainage, or to get rid of invasive weeds. There is a whole list of reasons. The problem is cutting down beneficial weeds, like milkweed, which is extremely important to the environment. Milkweed grows on a lot of roadsides in my area. In my opinion, the weeds on my street weren’t  extremely overgrown and could have been cut a month from now, when it gets cooler and there aren’t as many bugs around. My town hasn’t touched them since mid Spring, if I recall correctly.

Right now, it’s especially important to conserve areas with milkweed and wildflowers because late summer and early fall is migration time for Monarchs and a time when other beneficial insects start preparing for winter. So far, I’ve only seen one Monarch this summer and that’s really sad. They’ve been declining and it’s so important to keep them around.

I follow the NRDC (National Resource Defense Council) on Facebook. They have some really important info on environmental issues, endangered species, and a whole list of other important causes.My info and updates about Monarchs comes mostly from them.   Below is a couple of helpful links and info on Monarchs:

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/sylvia-fallon/keep-calm-and-plant-milkweed

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/peter-lehner/fight-save-butterflies

http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Invertebrates/Monarch-Butterfly.aspx

http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/60392.html

Hello Hot Stuff

Last week, in my attempt to make spicy fermented pickles (say that 3 times real fast), I decided to pick some hot peppers from my garden. What I didn’t know, was these peppers were Serrano peppers and not Jalapenos, as I thought they were. They look very similar.

The last time I cut a jalapeno (store bought), I didn’t wear any gloves because it was very mild. My garden peppers, however, are not! I didn’t wear gloves this time and ended up with an intense burn on my hands that lasted hours. I tried everything from milk to apple cider vinegar. Nothing except ice would do anything.

I finally gave up and decided to drink some nettle tea, which has allergy and pain relieving properties. I drink it for allergy relief. Low and behold, the burning stopped. I don’t know if it was the tea, or just the pepper wearing off, but whatever it was, the burning finally stopped. Maybe the tea worked it’s magic and helped me out.

In the end I learned one very important thing, always wear gloves or protective gear when cutting hot peppers, no matter how mild you think it may be!

 

Buzzing Bees

I’ve spotted a ton of honey bees all around my flowers and vegetable garden this summer. They’ve helped me with a great deal of pollination and I now have some awesome vegetables because of their hard work. Bees are so important to have and I’m happy about the amount of bees I have around my garden.

I have a special place in my heart for the little buzzers. I grew up with a fascination for bees and wasps. They’ve always intrigued me and I’ve never been afraid of them. I have a great respect for bees. They hold so much power in their tiny bodies and do such a great service to human kind. They are definitely an underappreciated insect.

Blooms of Summer

When summer starts, the flowers come out! These are all the beautiful mid summer blooms around my yard.

Vegetable and Fruit Blooms:

Everything Else:

Sorrel

I have some sorrel growing near my dads garlic field and around our property. It’s a wild edible plant my parents grew up with in Ukraine. When I was a kid, we had it growing in our garden wild and now we have it growing here wild. My mom always called it bunny food, because it’s what rabbits like to eat in the wild.

Sorrel is an edible herb. There are many different types of sorrel and many different uses for it. It grows all over the place here in the northeast United States. It can also be a weed, growing around your garden.

We have sheep sorrel and common wood sorrel. Wood sorrel leaves resemble clover leaves and have yellow or white blooms. Sheep sorrel have reddish/yellow blooms and the leaves resemble a sword.  The leaves of both are a wonderful addition to any salad or soup. The leaves have a nice lemony sour flavor without being too harsh like a lemon. You can eat it raw or cook with it. It’s always a nice snack for me when I’m walking around my yard.