Backyard Backdrop

October 7, 2012

As fall progresses the garden is starting to wind down.  The temperatures got down near freezing the past two nights so I am not sure how many more vegetables we will harvest.

I found a sunny place to sit to read my book back near the vegetable garden.  The alyssum covers the sidewalk.  The oak tree, off the picture to the right, is starting to create some shade on the grass in the afternoon.  I must have been sitting on the running path of the chipmunk, as he kept running under my chair.

Here is the chipmunk.  My camera was too slow to get anything closer, though s/he ran under me quite a few times.

I am enjoying the view of the mums and nasturtiums from the kitchen window each day.  Other colors of mums will be opening soon.

We decided to dig up the three sweet potato plants today.  Under each vine there was one average size sweet potato and a few little roots.  We cooked them all up and they tasted great.

We also dug up the one peanut plant, planted earlier by a squirrel in our yard.  We found a few peanuts on the roots.  Neither sweet potatoes nor peanuts are usually grown in Illinois, so this was just a fun learning experience for me.

I continue to pick pole beans in the garden and came across this camouflaged grasshopper in the leaf litter.

I could not stop myself from playing with the grasshopper a little.

I also enjoyed watching all the birds coming to the bird bath.  There was a woodpecker, bluejay, bosy robins and at one point I saw six birds splashing in the bath at once.

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Planting, Harvesting, Savoring

September 30, 2012

We are gradually building up the shrub border around the house.  Two weeks ago we planted a few bushes from Possibility Place and need to keep watering them so they get settled in before winter.

First we had to move two arborvitae from their current spots to this corner of the garden to make a threesome of trees.  We were able to leave the small hydrangea here and hope it grows more next year in the shade.

Then we planted this vernal witch hazel, hamamelis vernalis, between the two lilacs.

Carpinus Caroliniana – American Hornbeam – Blue Beach.  These are all names for this bush, which will eventually be a small tree.  We planted two of these on the west fence and hope it will block the view of the neighbor’s garage.  It’s pretty small now, though!

Top Hat Blueberry.  We planted this in the container this spring, so we have not had any blueberries yet.  Hopefully this will make it through the winter.  I will need to do some research to ensure that.  Asters in the background.

Another aster that is blooming is purple dome, with fireworks goldenrod in the background.

Chrysanthemum ‘Overture.’  I planted them this spring and they are the first mums to bloom in my garden this fall.  They are red with a yellow center, though not a true red.

We pulled up the first sweet potato vine last weekend and found one decent sized sweet potato and a few small ones.  The flavor was good, though a small portion.

Today we baked an apple, oatmeal, raisin dessert and earlier in the day we made up some spicy watermelon gazpacho.  We keep experimenting with vegetarian recipes.  Yesterday Dan made bean, corn, and avocado enchiladas, which were great!

Sunday Sundry Snapshots

July 22, 2012

I wandered around taking pictures of bugs this morning as well as a few plants that caught my attention.

Ants explore yellow fennel flowers.

With a little research I discovered that this is called a Great Black Wasp.  It sips on nectar but searches out crickets and katydid which it paralyzes with a sting.  It then bring the cricket to its burrow where it lays it eggs on the still living prey.  That provides food for the babies when they are born.  In fact I watched this wasp dragging its prey along this railroad tie.  It was somewhat disturbed to have me near, so this is as close as I got for the picture.  I guess I also captured a box elder bug at the bottom of the picture.

A batch of baby box elder bugs.  Try saying that quickly a few times….  Here seen on butterfly weed seed pods.

This is the new bed I planted this year where I put my lasagne mulch last fall.  The left side is a bit bare, but I have enjoyed the cheery mix of colors.

Found a peanut in its shell in my yard this spring, probably left by a squirrel.  A little later I noticed that it had sprouted, so I gave it a little more water.  Now we have several plants and they are blooming with these little yellow flowers.  Will these turn in to peanuts?  Stay tuned for the results in the fall.

The russian sage is starting to bloom around the garden.  I saw tiny little pollinators flying in and out of these little lavender flowers.

A close look at sweet potato leaves.  They come out purple and turn green as they grow.

Curly kale close-up

Crabapples – Malus Profusion Crabapple.  Sometimes I see the cardinals come and try these apples out, but I think they are more edible after a frost or two.

Food Adventures

June 10, 2012

I enjoy trying new fruits and vegetables in the garden.  I just want to see if they will grow without too much work and if I will enjoy eating the item.

This morning, when making our blueberry, banana, lettuce shake, I went out to the garden to see what I could find to add.  Here are strawberries, juneberries, raspberries and mulberries, fresh picked.  Not so many strawberries left with this dry weather.  The birds are eating the Juneberries (Serviceberry)  so I wanted to get some before they are gone.  The raspberries belong to the neighbor, but they were hanging over into our yard…..

Juneberries on bush.  Amelanchier Laevis – Allegheny Serviceberry.

The kale needs to be eaten before it gets too big.  Maybe I can cook some soup…

I ordered sweet potatoes through the mail.  I have four or five mounds around the yard.  I hope they produce sweet potatoes!

Cucumbers taking off.  Also getting going are tomatoes, beans, peas, beets, sweet corn and potatoes.

Prairie Verbena.  I planted this about a month ago and it seems to be happy and starting to bloom!  In the top left are nasturtiums that I have planted as annuals all over the yard this year.