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Friend or Foe

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I noticed a frog in the garden while I was planting beans. Is he a friend or foe?  He was trying so hard to be still, and remain unseen, that I pretended not to see him.  I didn’t want to ruin it for him. I think I will call him Henry.

Beneficual bugs can seem like friend or foe. Learn more about using what you may consider as bests to enhance your gardening.

Are Frogs Friend or Foe? 

I have a thing for frogs.  I like them.  Anyone remember the Sesame Street Episode with the frog climbing the tree? The song playing is It’s a Long Hard Climb ? Anyway, it makes my cheeks hurt from smiling. Check it out.  What’s not to like?    They eat bugs!  I am pretty much for anything that eats bugs.  Plus, they make the coolest sounds.  The mamma frogs singing their babies to sleep at night, and the bull frogs bellowing across the road….all very good to listen too.

I made another friend in the garden today.  This time a groundhog.  Now this groundhog has been around all year.  He / she has made a very cozy home underneath the woodshed.  I tried to bargain with said groundhog this afternoon.  We’ll call her Gena.  Anyway, I was talking to her, and she came out of her hole, to hear what I had to say.  I told her she could have the peas, as long as she leaves everything else alone.  Not sure if it will work… but here’s hoping. 

So I got some rutabagas seeded today, some beans, and some more radishes.  Most of the pumpkins I replanted are sprouting, as well as all the squash and zucchini.  I had planted more cucumber a few days ago also, and it is mostly sprouted too.  I wonder if I planted the first pumpkins too early.  Maybe the soil wasn’t quite warm enough yet?  I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

And my herb garden, has gone the way of my dusting. Sigh.  If you remember my post about my herb garden (follow the link to read) you will remember that herb gardens are not my strong point.  And it was doing so well!  I was so pleased with myself!  I had nice healthy looking parsley sprouts, then suddenly, they were not. Possibly somebody ate them? All of them?  Seems a bit much.

Overall things are sprouting, growing, and flowering.  Without further ado, the pictures I had promised earlier….

 
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Build It And They Will Come

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The new build it project as promised, this week is for the owl lovers out there.  Or maybe just the rodent non lovers?  Who am I to judge?
 

Handmade from locally harvested, locally milled lumber Build It: Owl Houses are the perfect natural pest control system for your property.

Build It: Owl Houses for the Ultimate Pest Control 

As promised, this week is for the owl lovers out there.  Or maybe just the rodent non lovers?  Who am I to judge?

I have always had a mix of wonder and fright when it came to owls. I think I can remember the commercials that use to air on the country cable channels, with the owl swooping down, and grabbing a rabbit I think it was, and clearly things didn’t look too good for the rabbit. But they were and still are fascinating! And hey, they eat mice, voles, bugs and everything else you don’t want around.  So I say, bring in the owls! 

Owls are probably the best farm hands you could ever have.  They take care of the vermin without complaint, and they do it efficiently, and for very little pay.  Why not give them some first class accommodations?

So we built some owl houses.  My husband cut out the pieces for several houses, and then he enlisted the help of the Little Helpers to assemble and then hang them.  What a treat! 

So now we have owl houses distributed around the yard part of our property, but will add more to the wooded areas too.  If you would like your very own owl house, you can order one here.

And I am going to keep it short this evening… with all of the end of the school year fun, and all of the beginning of the summer fun, and throw in a little bit of teething for good measure, I am spent.  I hope to do lots of work in the garden this week, how about you?  Do you all have everything ‘done’ in your garden?  

For the best rodent control – distribute owl houses

Natural pest control with Build It: Owl Houses

You might also like our beneficial bugs series. Here’s more on dragonflies!
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Make the World More Beautiful

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 I have seen something brand new this week, can you guess what? Hot pink lupines! They make the world more beautiful is so many amazing ways.
 

Make the world more beautiful with this budget friendly way to decorate your home. Bring the beauty inside and enjoy the color from your own backyard.

Make the World More Beautiful

I have seen something brand new this week, can you guess what? Hot pink lupines!  I have not been everywhere, nor have I seen everything, but I have been all over northern Ontario, and I have seen all kinds of lupines, but never before have I seen a hot pink variety. I am very excited about this! I wonder, will there ever be a vibrant yellow lupine? Until now my favorite colour of lupine has been the deep purple. What is your favorite?
From what I can tell, honey bees like lupines, and that’s good, because I like honey! And the colours! They are really very pretty. What I find most remarkable about these ‘weeds’ is that their foliage is even nice to look at. They don’t look so great when they are spent, but I think if you had some Hostas and / or Peonies nearby the magnificent foliage from those plants would hide the spent flowers from the lupines. But don’t condemn the expired lupines with their strange papery seed pods…lupines reseed very very easily, and if left to their own devices, you will have them for years to come.  If you look at the picture above, with the chairs and the treeline behind, you will see the yard is lined with lupines. Has anybody tried the experiment where you dye daisies by feeding them food colouring? I want to try that when the daisies start to bloom, and I am curious, would the same experiment work with lupines? We will have to try that also. They make lovely bouquets already, but seeing that hot pink one has me longing to see a lemon yellow one! Another low maintenance lovely to look at bloomer that is attracting all the butterflies is the lilac. The smell, the colour, the very sight of a lilac shrub is calming, and inspiring. This is another place I would just love to sit and get lost in a book. I picture one day reading Anne of Green Gables by the cherry tree, and oh, maybe, let’s see… Wuthering Heights under the lilac tree? For now we’ll read Ramona the Pest, Johnny Tractor and his Pals, and My Friend Rabbit every chance we get, over and over again.  Lilacs are hardy also, and easy to grow.  How do bees feel about lilacs? I wonder, if we all grew lilac shrubs, would that be enough to save the bees?  My daughter and her junior kindergarten class have been learning about how to make the world a more beautiful place.  The lessons my daughter has found important enough to bring back to me are not littering, and picking up litter, and planting flowers.   All of which are pretty easy to manage. Seed bombs will be the thing to try this year…

Stop and smell the lilacs, and enjoy everything as it is right now.  Tell me, what book would you read under the lilac tree?

 
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I Never Promised You A Herb Garden

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Our next adventures lead us to a herb garden.  While I would love to sit here and tell you all that we always grow our own herbs, and use nothing but fresh herbs in all of our cooking… the truth is I have tried to grow my own herbs, once.  I failed miserably.
 
Growing your own herb garden can be harder than it looks! Check out these tips to keep your herb garden thriving

 

Grow Your Own Herb Garden

Growing herbs, for me, is like dusting. I have the best of intentions, and I mean well, and I am sure that if I actually just did it, I would do it well…but it is one of those things I never put much energy into.  The one time I grew herbs, it was a neat little kit that someone got me for a Christmas gift, and it sat on a shelf for the better part of two years, until I found myself living on a farm, and I thought, Hey!  I am a farmer now, I will grow herbs!  I will have a herb garden.  Well, I planted the seeds, tended to them ‘til there were plenty of wonderful little sprouts, and then put the clay pot on a pretty little hook by a window…and much like the dusting, out of sight, out of mind. 
 
I have however in the past found myself wishing I had plenty of fresh dill at my disposal.  I mean, who wouldn’t? Dill is fabulous!  ( Especially when it comes time to pickle all those tasty cucumbers!) And mint!  Yum! As for most other things, I don’t use a whole lot of spices / herbs when cooking, and usually dried stuff from the grocery store has served me well.  Yet, I have the space, and the seeds.  Why not give it a whirl again?  I am a farmer, I will grow herbs!  I will have a herb garden. 

So today two of my little helpers and I cleaned out some planter boxes, and planted parsley, chives, oregano, basil, thyme, and tarragon.  Anybody have any suggestions, helpful hints, or pointers that I should know when caring for a herb garden?  I plan on planting some mint somewhere else.  Not in the boxes, but perhaps as a border somewhere, or in a raised bed all on its own.  I would like to surround something with mint, as I hear it keeps the mice away. I also hear it can really take over.  I refrained from planting anise. I have a couple of huge licorice lovers here, but I hear the mice just love the stuff, and I am not a lover of mice. I did not plant dill, only because I didn’t have any seeds.  If this herb garden works out for me, I will be sure to add dill in the future. I will also tell you all about it. 

Please share your own herb garden with us in the comments below, we love to hear from you.

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It’s Rhubarb Season

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Up here in northern Ontario, seeds have been planted, some things may have healthy sprouts, and lots of the flowers are blooming.  Unless you have employed the use of a greenhouse however, pretty much all you can really guarantee is that the rhubarb is ready!
 Fresh Rhubarb Gardening Growing and Maintenance Tips

 

Rhubarb Season

Rhubarb is plentiful this time of year, and a pretty reliable crop.  I have a couple of standby recipes that I make with rhubarb.  Let’s see, strawberry rhubarb pie, rhuberry jam, rhubarb crisp, rhubarb cobbler and rhubarb muffins have been the most successful. I have included some recipes below, in case you find yourself with plenty of rhubarb, and need something to do with it.  When I was a little girl we use to just pull it out, and dip it in sugar.  I wonder if it is still acceptable to do that. Hmmm. It also freezes really well.

 
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As for the rest of our gardening… the onion sets are sprouting, the peas are sprouting and the pumpkins are sprouting now also.  There is no sign of carrots, but I have never had much luck with carrots.  I always have the best of intentions, but ultimately I forget about them, and then rediscover them very late in the year.  In fact, I think I picked a few this spring from last year, when I was getting the soil ready. I have heaps of tomato and pepper plants that are ready to go into the garden also, but I am procrastinating.  I am putting it off, maybe for another week.  See, I have this fear that there will be another frost.  Historically I have waited until the new moon in June to plant frost sensitive items outdoors.  This year the new moon in June isn’t coming around until the 28th.  I don’t plan on waiting quite that long to plant, but boy wouldn’t I feel silly if I put out my tomatoes and peppers just to have them wiped out by the frost.Around the yard; the bleeding heart is in full bloom, and the daffodils have almost run their course.  There are some beautiful blossoms on our cherry tree. Aren’t cherry blossoms one of the most beautiful things in the world?  They remind me of Anne of Green Gables, and make me want to grab a book, and sit by the cherry tree.So I thought I would wrap up this week’s blog with some favourite rhubarb recipes, and ask you to share some of yours.  Just click on the links to get the recipes, enjoy!

Rhubarb muffins

Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie

Rhuberry Jam

Rhubarb & Strawberry Pie is the perfect way to enjoy your fresh rhubarb.

 
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Dingle Dangle Scarecrow

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 Well, the time is nearly upon us!  It is almost time to get those pepper and tomato seedlings in the garden! And of course there are the cucumbers, pumpkins, cabbage, cauliflower, you get the idea.

But first – I need a scarecrow.  Well that’s not true exactly – I need a new scarecrow.  Well that’s not exactly true either; my existing scarecrow just needs a new head, and perhaps some stuffing.

 

DIY Scarecrow from start to finish - complete with the flippy floppy hat

 

So this week’s project is all about the scarecrow.

I made our scarecrow last year, with two of my little helpers.  We dressed it in a pair of much worn maternity pants, and one very much worn work jacket.  I didn’t have any brilliant ideas for a head – so I took an old t-shirt, stuffed it with straw, and plopped it onto the ‘shoulders’ of our garden guardian.  It is almost too creepy. No, it is indeed too creepy.  I took a photo to share with you, but it is so creepy, I don’t want that image popping up and having anything to do with me, ever. Don’t worry mouse, I have a plan.

I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. I have made googly eyes for cookie monster costumes and balls for babies. The answer was quite simple: I just needed to make a larger googly eye!  Stuffing is tricky.  I didn’t want to use anything that will sag if it gets wet.  I didn’t want to use anything too heavy. And I certainly didn’t want to use anything edible.  So, that leaves what?  Styrofoam!  I went ahead and cut a roundish slab of Styrofoam from some old packaging… Tell me folks, what would you use? 

Dingle Dangle Scarecrow

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1 – Cut out 6 large oval shapes and 2 circles 2 – Place two of the oval, right sides together, and sew along the long seam 3 – Turn out and repeat 4 – Complete all ovals, and finish by sewing circles at the points – creating a large ball (empty)

But Wait! How can you be a dingle dangle scarecrow without a flippy floppy hat?  That’s easy… I whipped one up with more fabric scraps this afternoon!  Tomorrow I will get it stapled onto my poor old scarecrow, and my seeds and plants will be safe. And my garden will be decidedly not creepy.

Happy Planting Everyone!