Monthly Archives: May 2013

Summer Tanger At the Windows

red bird at the windows

At first I thought this red bird was another cardinal flying at my windows.  (A number of years ago, in our other home, we had a cardinal that came back every year for 4 or so years and would constantly fly into our kitchen windows, even blooding himself banging into the windows). I then realized that it doesn’t have that pointed crown on its head.  I think it is either a Summer Tanger or a Scarlet Tanger.  The bird must have just gotten back from South America a day or 2 ago and has been flying into our glass door and windows ever since.  It seems to have a brown ‘wife’ around here – they will sit together on a branch – the female tanger is brownish.  The male continually flies into our glass door and windows and tries to flutter there.  I have to wonder if its internal GPS system is telling him that his summer tree was where our house is now sitting.  He flies around the house flying into all the windows as if he is trying to get to a point inside the house.  We had to cut down about a half acre of thick woods to put the house in, so perhaps we cut down his tree?


That is a cute little story, however, I tend to believe the ‘experts’ explanation that the male bird thinks he is fighting off an intruder to his turf but is in effect just fighting his reflection in the window.  This seems to fit because it is the male bird (I suspect the female bird is off building the nest). The male bird just flies into the windows, never the walls.  He flies up and down, banging into the window, as if he is butting heads with his reflection.  It was cute for the first day, but it is getting rather old.

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Basil Seedlings

Everything is running late this spring because of the move.  These Basil seedlings popped up in just a few days.  I should have started them over a month ago, but it is difficult for me to start seedlings without my greenhouse.  I used tweezers to plant 2 seeds in each hole of the seed starting tray.
basil seedlings

The 2 rows on the left are one variety, but I just didn’t bother with writing down which rows were which cultivar.  There are actually 3 groups of seeds – two are new from seed packets this year and the bulk of the tray is my random collection of seeds from my garden last year.  I went to look for the names of the 2 new varieties, but I have already put the seeds in the freezer to preserve them for next year.  This spring the emphasis is on getting basil to grow so that we can make pesto this summer.  In my garden last year, I had 2 varieties growing – one had nice big leaves and they were easier to handle – to pick, to wash and to process into pesto.  I also had a narrow leaf variety growing.  When I saved seeds however, I just gathered all the seed heads together and collected the seeds together.  Maybe next spring I can focus on the large leaf variety.

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Peppers Growing Quickly

These peppers were planted less than a week ago and they have doubled in size!  I am very happy.
peppers getting  bigger

These seedlings are thriving in this sandy soil.  It must be the scoop of Black Cow brand cow manure and the bone meal and epsom salt that I put in each hole with the seedlings.

closeup of growing peppers

Beautiful little plants.  I haven’t seen an aphid ye, although there are small, half-inch brown grasshoppers in the leaf mulch.  Less than a year ago, this area was solid, thick woods – so I am hoping that there are no vegetable garden pests around.  Shouldn’t be – there are no close neighbors which means no close veggie gardens.   I am sure, however, that I probably brought some squash bugs with me.

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Planting the Peppers

It is time to plant those pepper seedlings that were started from seeds saved from last summer’s peppers.  The right half of this bed is already planted with peppers and mulched with crumbled, dry oak leaves.  You can see the peppers in pots sitting on the dirt – spaced for planting – on the left side.
first pepper bed planted

Some pepper seedlings went into another bed.  Here they are sitting already spaced on top of the soil.   To plant each seedling, the hole is filled with 2 scoops of premium Black Cow brand compost, about a teaspoon of epsom salt (the magnesium and sulfur are very good for seedlings) and about a tablespoon of bone meal (good for root development).

peppers to be planted

This bed is fully planted and mulched with crumbled oak leaves.

planted and mulched bed

Closeup of the pepper planting.

planting peppers and mulching

I am very pleased with the root system of my pepper seedlings.  I like to start the seedlings in little peat pellets and then transfer the strongest into individual 4 inch pots filled with potting soil/peat/perlite/compost mixture.  I then regularly water with a dilute Miracle Grow fertilizer.  It seems to work well.

root system of pepper seedling

If we weren’t in the process of moving this spring, I would have started my own tomatoes.  However, that wasn’t possible this year, so we had to settle for store-bought tomato seedlings.

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Filling The Beds

The raised beds are finished and the load of mediocre quality top soil to fill the beds with has been delivered.  As you can see, we have already been digging in it – about a third of it is already in the beds.
a dump truck of top soil

The topsoil is very sandy and certainly not optimal for growing vegetables.  In each bed, I mixed 18 bags of cheap compost/top soil stuff that Lowes sells.  I also added a half of a large block of peat moss to each bed.  You can see the darker compost before it was mixed together with the top soil.

mixing the topsoil in beds
The first bed is ready for planting.  Those are 2 blueberry plants at the top of the pic – just before the utility trailer.  I still need to get a load of pine saw dust and pile it around the base of the blueberries.
the first bed is ready

The last 4 beds are ready.  I did not fill the beds to the top because I want to leave room to add premium compost to them next spring.  I am rushed this spring – my garden should have been planted a month ago and I am doing just enough now to get it rolling.
last 4 beds filled with dirt

I dumped wood mulch between the boxes and added my own pine bark that I gathered from the woods.  Dead pine trees are quick to shed their bark and I gather it to put in my garden walk ways.

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