Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

No Fooling-Time To Put Out Your Hummingbird Feeders

There is between 325-340 species of hummingbirds in the Western Hemisphere. Out of all those species, the Ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common in our area fallowed by the Rufous hummingbird.  After wintering in Northern Mexico and Central America, the Ruby-throated hummingbird makes its ways back north.  The Rufous hummingbird spends the winter in parts of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and parts of the Gulf Coast.

Hummingbirds get the nutrients they need by eating insects.  They drink nectar for fuel and to replenish energy reserves.

You can attract hummingbirds to your yard, and provide a source of energy, by setting out hummingbird feeders.  Place feeders outside starting April 1st to attract the earliest arriving hummers.  Hummingbirds are territorial.  Several feeders placed out of sight of one another will lesson this competition.

To make the nectar:
Mix 1 part sugar to 4 parts water.  Bring to a boil (1-2 minutes) and then cool before placing in feeders.  Boiling helps to deter bacterial and yeast growth. Replace every 3-4 days, going no longer then a week.  Discard old nectar and thoroughly wash feeder before refilling.

Use white granulated sugar only.  Other types of sugars and commercial hummingbird products contain dyes, additives, preservatives, artificial flavors, iron (which is deadly if consumed long-term) and unnecessary nutritional additives.

Hummingbirds begin migrating North in January and reach their breeding grounds by mid-May.  The males set out first, establishing territory and preparing for the arrival of the females.  They return South starting in late August/early September.  Keep your feeders up through October, for any late stragglers 

Fallow the link below to view pictures of Hummingbirds..

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Reason To Grow Weed?

If you ever wanted to grow weed, this is your chance.  Milkweed (what did you think I was writing about?), is what Monarch Butterflies eat, and without it parish.  Unfortunately, due to a number of different factors (fire, drought, pesticides, construction or destruction), milkweed plants are in decline and so is the survival of the Monarch Butterfly.  But you can help these beautiful insects by planting milkweed in your yard.

Follow the link below to learn more about the Monarch Butterfly:

Here is a link for milkweed seeds and plants:

Plant milkweed today to help ensure future generations of Monarch Butterflies!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Fever

As winter starts to wind down, and spring is around the corner, my neighbors keep asking me if I am getting excited to start gardening.  Little do they know that I already have!

Indoors, I have started seeds of cabbage, spinach, kohlrabi, onions, and celery, which have all sprouted.  This past weekend I started 9 varieties of flower seeds.  And in the next few days, I will start tomato's. peppers, and eggplant.

Outdoors, I am trying a method called "winter sowing'.  This is a alternative way of sowing seeds in the winter, outdoors, in plastic jugs and other containers, such as milk jugs, water and soda bottles and take out containers.  These containers,  which act as mini-greenhouses, allow mother nature to dictate germination.  It is good for the environment, saves space indoors, and there is no need for heat mats, indoor light systems, or other seed starting kits. There is less chance of "damping off" of seedlings and eliminates the need to "harden off" young plants that were started indoors.  Advocates of winter sowing claim the plants are stronger then plants that are started indoors, do to a stronger root system and a natural hardening off process, thus performing better out in the garden.

Out in the garden I have constructed several hoop houses.  Similar to a greenhouse, but with no heater, a hoop house extends your growing season by 4 to 6 weeks in the spring and fall.  It is even possible to grow cold hardy plants through the winter with a additional inner layer.

And don't forget that Saint Patrick's day is the unofficial start of the pea season, as long as there is no snow on the ground!