Sunday, August 31, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday 2, Ivyleaf Morning Glory, Ipomoea hederacea

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in every Sunday. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.



I know this is NOT the usual sort of plant to showcase but I am sure growing a bunch of it. I do try to eradicate it, but it is persistent. Anyone know just what it is? Click on the picture for a better look.

The mystery plant has been identified as an Ivyleaf Morning Glory. See more about it here

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bean Pest


Somebody is eating my beans. To the right you can see the holes and just left of the middle is the critter. I think it is some kind of caterpillar. Anyone know?
This is the second one I have found. The first one was bigger and a little greener. They are very flat on the bottom. They are not slimy like a slug.

Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus

My garden is a success! I have Monarch caterpillars!

The poor milkweed in the picture was all bent over by whatever has been sleeping in the garden. I pounded in a metal fence post and tied it up with some strips off an old towel.



The caterpillars are happily munching away. I was surprised that the plant still has so many leaves.



I spent a lot of time watching them.



They grow fast and then the biggest ones just disappear. I read they look for a spot away from the milkweed to climb and make their chrysallis.


This one is eating a seedpod. I am curious about that. If the seedpods get eaten then they cannot produce seeds which means fewer plants for the caterpillars to feed on.

I will be adding more pictures to this post and keeping it strictly on the topic of Monarch Butterflies.




Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Praying Mantis


My son found this little fellow on the back yard fence last evening. Because it was on the fence I could not get the camera far enough away from it to not blur the picture. You can see the typical mantis stance with the front legs ready for action. This one is about three inches long. Look how dry the grass is! We have not had nearly enough rain.

Monday, August 25, 2008

West Virginia Weekend

This weekend the brush pile went from this:

to this:



This tree is one of the reasons we are cutting the brush back. To get to the vines before they kill any more trees. We have a LOT of vine-strangled trees.


The vines are of many sorts. Grapes are the worst offender followed by Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper.

Here is how I dealt with a Poison Ivy vine this weekend.
Here is a Poison Ivy vine climbing a tree. Almost all the green you see is Poison Ivy Leaves.


This vine has already made hundreds of berries. Berries have seeds in them. Birds find Poison Ivy berries quite delicious. Birds poop. When the bird poops, out comes the seed ready to grow in a new location. Die, vine, die!



This is what the Poison Ivy vine looks like climbing the tree. Brown and hairy.


I used a pruning tool to cut off a section of the vine about six inches long and then sprayed the bottom portion of the vine with Poison Ivy killer. I cut a bigg enough portion so that I can tell at a glance that the vine has been cut and can easily see if a smaller vine grows up bridging the gap. Be careful not to touch the vine, leaves, berries, or the cutting part of the tool. Poison Ivy sap will get on your skin and itch like crazy. The rash takes up to two weeks to appear.


Another chore we tackled was cutting up this fallen limb.

It just about filled our cart.

The bark has already fallen off and the branches are scored by the scars left behind by Bark Beetles. Bark Beetles kill many trees, but the scars are works of art. Click on the picture to see it larger.

First Green Bean Harvest

Yep! I picked the largest bean in this picture. One green bean. The first of many as you can see.



Something I noticed is that the first blossoms were white and now I have several blossoms on the same plants that have a pink tint to them. I wonder if it is a sign of some deficiency?



Sunrise



I went for my walk this morning under a gorgeous sky. We were at the cabin for the weekend. I have a billion pictures to post but am going to break them up and do several short posts with them.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday 1, Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus carota

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in every Sunday. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.



The fields were full of Queen Anne's Lace this weekend. Yes we have a field at the cabin.
Of course AFTER we got home I found out about Queen Anne's Lace Jelly.
There are a LOT of recipes on the internet. I am going to do a boiling water bath if I get the chance to make some, just to make sure it will keep.
If you want to try, please be careful that you are indeed picking Queen Anne's Lace and NOT Poison Hemlock!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Beans Are Getting Bigger!

The Beans continue to grow. You can actually see them in this picture :)



The mystery Alliums continue to put on a show.



Now for a strange one. I noticed this tomato is getting ripe, but only on half of it! It has a crease in the front that makes it look like it could possibly be two tomatoes but the back is smooth so it isn't. Strange!


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cicada Killer Wasp

The Cicada Killer Wasp is BIG! We have them all along the dirt road leading to the cabin. Click on the picture to see it larger.



They dig long tunnels underground, often several feet long. They capture and paralyse Cicadas and lay eggs on them. When the young hatch they feed on the still living Cicada. Here is a burrow entrance on our road.



The pictures were taken last year. I have not been able to get a decent picture of them this year.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cicada, Baby Beans and DIY Tree Guards

Last evening my hubby and I took a stroll around the block. We have a nice circular route that is just over a mile in length. I found this cicada along the way and brought it home to take it's picture. I don't know which kind of Cicada it is. If I find out I will add the information here. Cicadas have anywhere from a one year to seventeen year cycle. This one has a lot of green on it's body. Cicada Identified! It is an Annual Cicada also known as the Dogday Harvestfly.


You will have to take my word for it that there are actual baby beans in this picture. Really! They are so small that they just don't show in the picture. These are the Bush Beans. The Pole Beans are still not doing well. I may try them again in the spring.


DIY Tree Guards. The next time we go to the cabin I will be taking these tree guards. I got the plastic pipe free from Freecycle and cut them in about eight to ten inch lengths. Then I cut a slit lengthwise to facilitate slipping it around the trunk.

If you make them do not be fooled into thinking you do not have to cut the lengthwise slit. You may be able to slip it over the top of a young tree but the tree will grow and eventually you will want to remove it. Make the slit now as it will be very difficult to do it later.

It took me about twenty minutes from start of project till everything was cleaned up and put away. I used an electric handheld saw for the project.



Hopefully the tree guards will help save the young trees from my husband's tractor and my weed whacker.

Here is a picture of a tree guard in action!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Baby Bird Update

It turns out that the local place to take baby birds, rabbits and some other assorted wildlife is TLC, The Life Centre, in Leesburg, VA.

The address is 165 Ft. Evans Rd. and the phone number is 703-777-5755. I would advise calling first and making sure they can handle your emergency.

They also have a website:http://www.criticalcareattlc.com/

They hold the animal for a rehabilitator to pick up and you do have to sign a release form. There is no charge.

The little bird was alive and squeaking when it was dropped off so maybe it has a chance.

I have added some pictures to the previous post.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Most Incredible Thing

The Most Incredible Thing just happened! I cooked on the grill and was going out to the deck to put the cover back on the grill. I saw something on the railing and seriously at first thought it was a pile of bird poop. Then it moved!!!!!!!!!!



Little by little a crack appeared.



The crack got bigger and bigger.



Then it rolled over.



And the top popped off.



It struggled and soon the rest of it was free.



Here it is out of the egg.



And here it is in my hand. So tiny!

I have the baby in a makeshift nest of cotton in a margarine tub on top of an aquarium light.
I finally found the right people to call. I left a message and am waiting for a call back.
They referred me to The Life Centre and that is where I ended up taking the baby.

This is how I transported the baby, in a pill bottle.


I took the picture where it hatched. The specks on the railing are bits of the broken eggshell.




You can see how just glancing at it I thought it was bird poop at first. True, it was not broken at that point but this is the side that was up. It has a very faint blue tint to the white. The speckles are a dark brown and are concentrated on the rounded end of the egg rather than the pointier end. I offered the egg to the clinic as a help in identifying but they did not want it. I am still searching for what it might be.
The theory is that a Crow or Blue Jay robbed a nest of a smaller bird and settled on my deck rail to eat it. I scared it off when I went out to cover the grill and it dropped the egg. I don't know as all I saw was the egg. It was pure coincidence that it was ready to hatch right at that instant.

147



That's how many boards I ended up with. Almost all of them had nails that needed pulled out. I put the nails in a one liter bottle as I removed them. Before tossing the bottle I screwed the lid on. I have had too many nails in tires to take chances with them.



The boards are four feet long but almost all are damaged on each end where they were ripped off their former wall. No problem. I will make smaller beds for now. I was worried about being able to afford the good lumber for constructing them. I started and got three made with untreated pine. My thinking was to get them made and usable first and then gradually replace them with cedar or redwood. Now I can make as many as I like with the boards and have them all in place by spring. Yes, I still have to finish painting the foundation too between tearing out the old beds and putting in new. I can build potato bins with the boards too. Yay!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bonanza!




Do you know what these are? These are about 30 free barn boards that were used as paneling. They were offered on my local Freecycle list and I snagged them. I think there are closer to a hundred boards but some are cracked or have pieces cut out where outlets and switches were.

Currently I am busily pulling out nails and staples. Look for future reincarnations of the boards around the garden and cabin. They are all about four feet long and varying widths and tongue and groove too.

In the garden the Bush Beans are flowering. The seeds were planted in the ground outside on July 16 so one month from planting to flowering. Now I am anxious for beans to eat!



In one of the old beds some volunteers of some sort of allium are beginning to flower. I have no idea what they even are and will be bidding them goodbye when the new beds go in. I still have a Lemon Boy tomato plant in that bed.




Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beans, Beans

Last night with my husband's help I moved the garden away from the wall and added sand underneath to make it more level. Note to self: do not water the garden before attempting to move it! It was HEAVY! It is more level now, but this winter I will level it more. I also attached the trellis netting to the uprights. Yes I should have done it before but I had not ordered it yet. I did look for it locally but the garden stores here did not have it this late in the season.

The Bush Beans have really taken off. I expect flowers any day now.



The Pole Beans still had a poor germination rate but a few of them did grow. I decided to go with what I have and see what they do rather than trying again to start more seeds. The Pole Beans are a darker colored plant than the bush and can be seen behind the Bush Beans.



The onion sets I planted have not done anything above ground. I hope they are setting roots below.