Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bird feeder guests

Every day I have quiet a company on my bird feeder. They mostly fight for a place on it and yell at each other and sometimes eat.

Here is a list of guests.
Once I counted 8 Lazuli Bunting males at the same time. They are very pretty, with showy blue heads and wings and red chests. I think, I started to see females too, but not so sure.

Lazuli Bunting Photo'
Next, I have couple House finches, males and females. They are better behaved and don't fight as much, probably because of the smaller numbers.
Adult male

The guest with most self confidence is a male House Sparrow. Even being the only representative of his species, he can easily out yell or outfight any other bird or even several.
House Sparrow Photo

That is pretty much it for the constant day to day birds. Once in a while I get some visitors that only stay for a short snack and then fly away into the wide world. Couple days ago I saw a couple of Blackbirds, I think, they were Blackbirds. And today in the morning I saw this guy
Black-headed Grosbeak Photo Black-headed Grosbeak. Since he was bigger then any other birds on the feeder he was given a wide space.
The other birds that mostly occupy themselves on my lawn instead of bird feeder include a robin and couple European Starlings. Yesterday I saw one of the Starlings taking a bath in a birdbath on my flower bed. There wouldn't be anything unusual in such behavior, except it was during pouring rain! I guess this guy prefers bath to a shower.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

April snow showers bring... May snow, lots of rain and food to my table :)

On May 1st we woke up to ... snow again of course! What did you expect? Flowers? Not this year!
The weather did changed  eventually. Snow changed to rain and a LOT of it. So far it turned out to be a wettest spring here, since I moved to Utah. Almost like being in Kiev again, only without chestnut trees everywhere. I like being comfy and warm inside my house during those rainy days. Baking cinnamon rolls (thanks Karlson for it) or chocolate chip cookies. Ya mm.
I had to wait awhile to finish my garden beds which meant that my poor seedlings by the window grew spindlier and spindlier. I don't have a suitable light source for them, and instead of sunlight outside we got clouds pretty much everyday.

So, my cucumbers, pumpkins and squash had to put up with horrible light conditions. When I was finally able to transplant them into garden only squashes and couple pumpkins survived.
So now I have 2 Straight Neck Yellow squash plants, 2 Black Zucchini, 1 Patty Pan Scalloped squash (never tried this one before, would be interesting to grow and cook it). I am just hoping that I can plant my cucumber seeds directly in the garden and they will still have enough time to grow.
In the meanwhile when rain gave us couple hours break I was able to plant my root vegetables - turnips, carrots, beets and parsnips. Also some beans and corn. My kids were excited about planting "magic beans" - Royal Burgundy, - they suppose to grow purple, but turn green in the process of cooking.
Here are my root and bean garden beds:
 Turnips and beats.
 Kohlrabi, Swiss Chards and carrots.
 Beans are poking out.

On the last picture above, on the background, you can see my bundled up tomato cages. Right after I planted tomatoes, we got a freeze warning again! Luckily they survived. I am loving my very versatile row cover! I think it saved me a lot of pain this year. Without it, being impatient gardener, I would probably end up with lot  of dead plants on my hands. With row cover I just need to pay close attention to the weather forecast.

With all the cool weather and extra moisture I got some fast crops of greens, radishes and broccoli. I tried and loved Arugula in my salads and on my sandwiches, and I love, LOVE snacking on my sorrel leaves!

 I keep planting my radishes approximately 2 weeks apart and I was able to have some fresh radishes on my table at least twice a week, every week so far.
 Broccoli is almost ready for harvest.
Rows of sorrel.

All and all I like the look of my vegetable garden in May.

And here, finally are the flowers, after all the April and May showers :). Below are some of my favorite front yard non-edibles - Lilac and ready to bloom peonies.