Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Now, Where Were We?

Cherished reader!

Glad you made it back. Glad I made it back, too. So much time has passed since my last post here at green out every window that I’m feeling pressed to account for my whereabouts the last two months.

 Let’s see, there’s been a little of this:

And this:

And a bit of this, too:

And this sort of thing as well:


 Of course, there’s been some activity in the garden, too, but all of the activities pictured above made post-writing nearly impossible.

At this point, some quick updates might be the best way to get us back on track.

Let’s start with those birds.

After home-made bird scarers failed to frighten the friendly quail who were gobbling up my veggie garden, I bought a plastic decoy hawk online. The result?  Success. Here’s a picture of my upper veggie bed (with home-made scarer) that was being repeatedly munched by quail back in May:

And here is the same veggie bed now:

Mr. H. Decoy’s presence in the garden has also spawned some rather amusing behavior on the part of the quail : Hawk Watching.  Observe:

I’ve only seen solitary males engaging in this entertaining ritual. I know I’m anthropomorphizing a bit here, but I can vividly imagine them daring each other to get as close to the hawk as they can while their female companions roll their eyes.  From my window it looks like a single male quail sitting perfectly still on the fence while looking at the decoy. Then he looks away, and looks back at the decoy, then looks away again, and looks back at the decoy. He keeps this up for some time (whatever time he’s agreed to with his buddies) and then flies off.

Today, the quail plot at our house thickened all the more. While removing the mulch from around the base of a boxwood I was getting ready to transplant, my gloved hand happened on what felt like a pile of very light rocks, but turned out to be a nest full of small, speckled eggs. 

Quail eggs, of course.  I can only imagine it was the father’s idea. After all, this location greatly shortens the commute for his new, favorite pastime: Hawk Watching.  Our yard's status has been upgraded from quail salad bar to all-inclusive resort.

Now, back to that tomato I sprouted from a supermarket tomato seed. Sadly, said tomato seedling became exceedingly yellow and stressed while waiting to be planted. In the end, I didn’t get him in the garden until about 2 weeks ago, again, due to the fun  mentioned at the start of this post.  Here he is now.

Teeny, huh?  And here’s the seedling I started from the grocery store bell pepper seeds:

 I doubt either of these plants will have enough time to set fruit before the frost, but I’ll keep you posted.

Now, remember my hardening off disaster? Well, believe it or not, several of my beloved poppies (seven out of the 14) responded to my last ditch effort to revive them with careful watering.  Even though I had to repeatedly cut off leaves that turned yellow or brown as the seedlings came back to life, they made it back from this:

To this:

They’re now planted around my crabapple tree in the backyard. Unfortunately, my timing is WAY off with these guys as well. They're technically a spring flower, and since weather prevented planting until the second week of June, they’re just now getting going and it’s wicked hot outside.  Perhaps too hot for them to bloom.  Only time will tell. I’ll let you know.

Most of my other seedlings are in the ground as well, and doing fine, but don’t deserve a photo until they’ve made a little more of themselves.

In other news, someone please get me some sauce to eat with my big plate of crow. After vehemently insisting, back in April, that a Ghost Chile plant would never bear fruit in an aluminum beverage can (as the Magic Plant Company would have us believe) I must admit that I was mistaken. There it is: They are right. I am wrong. As a reminder, I was so convinced their system wouldn't work that I  diligently removed several sprouts from their can to grow in “better” conditions, I am embarrassed to admit that my best seedling looks like this:

And the Magic Plant Company Ghost Chile in the can looks like this:

I guess the rule for TV pundits applies to bloggers as well: The more emphatic you are in your predictions, the more likely you will be proven wrong. Mmmm, crow, yummy.

Let’s return now for a minute to my plan to attract beneficial insects to my garden after a devastating experience with Bayer systemic fertilizer and insecticide.  So, has the introduction of yarrow and a daisy-like coreopsis to my garden (both reputedly loved by beneficials) brought more good bugs on board? YES!

Both began to attract various sorts of flying critters while still sitting in their nursery pots in my backyard. Here's the coreopsis complete with beneficial bug.

 After consulting my Audubon Field Guide to Insects and Spiders, I’m convinced this is a tachinid fly, a beneficial insect whose larvae become parasites on the bodies of pest insects, eventually killing them.  I admit I was a dismayed at the extent to which these tachinids resemble house flies. Not nearly as romantic as ladybugs and green lacewings, but so be it.

On the other hand, I felt a bit giddy when I discovered this lovely fuzzy insect sipping nectar from my newly purchased pink yarrow….

…until my Field Guide informed me that it’s a large bee fly, which looks innocent but is a sworn enemy of solitary bees. The cunning bee fly follows the bees home to their nests, and then, after the bees have departed, lays her eggs in the entrance tunnel. When the dreaded bee fly larvae hatch, they devour the bee larvae! So, not such a great bug afterall. But oh well. This is where we bow in deference to the garden food web, and just let it be.

Finally, a quick update on my free Arbor Day Foundation trees. The crabapple that delighted me when it woke up and put out leaves in March didn’t make it. I was afraid to put it outside in the March cold, and I believe the lack of light in the garage did it in. Here’s a picture shortly before it’s demise:

Of the remaining four trees, only two others came to life. Of those two, only one looks like it will make it. Here is the eastern red bud  treeI have little hope for:

And the crape myrtle that I’m rooting for:

That’s the wrap. Thanks for reading!


  1. Welcome back, Bel; it looks as though you had lots of important reasons for not posting. I enjoyed your update -- especially the hawk-watching behavior of the quails. I guess you can assume that they're too bird-brained to eventually figure out that the hawk isn't real. -Jean

  2. We have an all-inclusive quail resort, too. And a robin buffet where they come and pick through the compost and then find a lovely seating area in the raised planters. We're so happy to be accommodating. . .

  3. Glad to see this update. Happy also that you have been enjoying your summer.

    I found you through Jean's Garden and have loved catching up on your blog posts.

  4. Bel, I'm glad to hear that you finally got your plants outside and that the hawk is doing it's job. Do you move the hawk around the garden when the quails aren't looking so they think that it moves on it's own? Just wondering...

    I know what you mean about a short growing season this year. My poor tomato plants are really suffering. So far, I'm only getting cherry and grape tomatoes. They're good but they would be a lot better if we could get some more sun. And I'm not getting anything from my big tomato plants. If your weather has been anything like ours it's just too cold to get much of anything to grow. Everyday last week the temperature was in the 70's during the day and the 50's at night. I have to keep looking at the calendar to make sure that it really is July and not February. That's okay, it will make us appreciate the heat when and if it ever gets here.

    So, by the looks of that chili plant it looks like the chili eating contest can't be very far off. Is Steve and his "bud" still going to be testing the chilis? Just say the word and I'll grab the video camera and head on up. I wouldn't miss that for the world. hahahahaha

  5. Jean: I think part of the quail ritual might be them working up their courage! I wouldn't be surprised if they eventually walk up to the hawk and give him a sound peck on the tail. I'm just glad it worked long enough for us to eat some greens!

    World's Worst Moms: In a way, it makes you feel honored, as if the local wildlife are giving your garden their seal of approval....

    Grafix Muse: Thanks for the encouragement! As a fellow blogger you know it can be hard to keep up!

    Aunt D: I do move the hawk every couple of days! And I'll let you know when the chile eating event is scheduled!

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