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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

As the temperature dropped this past week, the insects were getting sluggish. mon1 I had a bumblebee get tangled in my hair while raspberry picking and didn’t even notice her until she had warmed up a bit and made some buzzing noises, once we were back in the shop. She was still slow enough that I was able to pop her into a dish and take her back outside without a problem. I also found this Monarch in the new bed around the wellhead. I think it is one of this years crop, since it was so perfect and clean. The older ones I’ve seen look a bit worn. It had come in for one of the flowers and seemed to be trying to warm up a bit before heading off. In the late season insects we also had this extremely pregnant praying mantis pm3 show up in the back garden. She could barely walk and was clearly looking for a place to lay her egg sack. I’m hoping she found a suitable spot on the property since predatory bugs are something we want more of. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a herd of little mantises next spring!

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While the fall supply of raspberries is always a thrill, rasp we have been a bit frustrated the last couple of years with the pest problems associated with them. Last year there were huge numbers of ladybugs that we had to fight with over them. This year the picnic beetles were just being awful. We’ve always had a few of them around but this year, even with my going for a complete no tolerance policy on them, (any that are found are killed, not just brushed off) they were still causing a lot of damage but seem to have stopped almost completely as soon as the temperature dropped. Even better, they didn’t reappear during the warm stretch! Now we’re just losing a few to the earwigs and birds but we’ve still got quite a bit coming in. It does look like we should get our biggest haul yet. With the warm weather this past week it’s been close to 2-4 cups a day! There are enough that mother is even letting some get used in baked goods, but not many. I’m amused by how many fresh raspberries she can manage to consume!

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Over the last few years, we have added quite a number rosebed of plants to the property. Some of them have finally established enough that it was possible to split and spread them around a bit. We have two varieties of shrub roses and both have firmly established themselves and keep striking out for new territory. Since some of that territory is already spoken for, it made sense to set up a whole new bed. Along with the shrub roses, there was another, older style high bush rose that had come through the east fence and was struggling in the shade. Along with those we also had a low, creeping white rose and a trio of miniatures that had survived going into and out of the teapots for the past couple of years. All together, there were enough for us to set up a whole bed of roses. We cut into the lawn at the start of the path and that gave us borders on two sides. I like where it is and while it’s filled with more tomatoes, this year, than roses, it should be looking more like it was intended by next spring. I’m also a bit amused that all the roses, whether they were bought, volunteers or were just survivors, have turned out to to be white or just slightly off-white.

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We have a couple of freestanding flower arrangements on bf the property and when I saw this huge butterfly flitting about one I ran off to grab the camera. Luckily, it stuck around long enough for me get some shots. It seemed to not be comfortable with me getting too close so I hung back and used the zoom feature. Going through some websites, it looks like it is a Giant Swallowtail ( Papilio cresphontes ) and from the descriptions of their flight differences, probably a male. The flight movement was much closer to a bird than most other butterflies and he was incredibly flappy about the wings, even while feeding, which made taking the pictures difficult. I really couldn’t get over just how large he was, which shouldn’t be a surprise since they are the largest butterflies native to the region, but I don’t remember ever coming across one before. The marigolds seemed to be what he liked the best and he sampled several ones, on both sides of the planter, before heading off.

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We have tried a really wide assortment of tomato types over the years.

black tomatoes, August 2014

black tomatoes, August 2014

Quite a number have been labelled as “black” and we have pretty much had at least a couple of black cherry tomatoes every year. With that being said, this is the first year we have had truly black ones. They were labelled as an “early black”, but are not moving all that much faster than the rest of the plantings but at least a couple have ripened. Of course, it’s a bit hard to tell how close they are to ripe since the colour doesn’t show much. They do turn an orangish red, on their bottoms, but never get all that soft, so even going with the gentle squeeze test is a bit difficult. The flavour is also a bit closer to a tomatillo than a standard tomato, and didn’t impress the tomato connoisseur, that is my mother so I don’t think we’ll be doing them again next year. While I know that tomatoes are in the same family as eggplants, I never expected to grow ones that had the same colour!

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The plants on the property have come from a number of different sources. lily flower Late last year we were given a few day lilies. It was well past their flowering periods so I had no idea what colour they would produce. (while they were a gift, they didn’t come with much in the way of information) An additional pair of unknown lilies were bought this spring. There were enough in total to fill in between the pair of flower barrels. All of them have settled in well and have flowered already. It turns out that the centre group is a slightly peachy pink while the pair at the ends are a buttery yellow. At least they turned out to be complimentary! I have also been impressed with how long they’ve managed to stay in flower. We’ve had almost a month of them in bloom!

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We were out this afternoon, picking the last few tomatoes

hummingbird, September 2013

hummingbird, September 2013

when a tiny visitor was spotted in the nasturtiums. I’ve seen a few hummingbirds, over the years. Rarely more than one a year and never had them stick around long enough to grab the camera, so it was pretty exciting to have one hang around for a bit. This one was alternating between snacking among the bright nasturtiums and resting in the sun on the tomato hoops. She seemed quite calm about us gawking, although we did stay well back, since we didn’t want to scare her off. There was also some adorable squeaky commentary, when she was feeding, and some sticking out of the tongue after each bout. It made us wonder if nasturtium nectar has the same peppery zing as the petals!

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