Monthly Archives: June 2011

Photos from the third week of June.

Lavender is beginning to flower. Soon it will be attracting beneficial insects to the garden.

My honeysuckle has been attacked by aphids.

Garlic scapes are the flower stem of garlic. I harvest them and use them for pesto and salads. They have a light garlicky flavor.

Beet greens with water beads after a rain.

Fennel fronds hold beads of water after a rain.

Nasturtium leaves also make a nice resting place for water beads.

This rosemary plant is getting bigger by the minute, I've already harvested from it too! I'm so happy I decided to replace the rosemary I overwintered in the house. This one is much healthier.

I use this veggie bed to rotate crops during the season. Currently it has lettuce, tomatoes, peas, corn (which gets eaten every night, I wonder if we'll get any of it), beans, squash and garlic. Seem like alot? The peas, lettuce and garlic will soon be pulled to make more room for the other plants.

A look at the final baby robin to leave the nest as he contemplates taking the leap.

Lemon Tree Update

My little lemon tree has been undergoing some significant changes the last few weeks.

When I had repotted the tree in April it was looking quite abysmal.  It had lost a lot of leaves during its overwintering period in the house, and many blossoms had formed only to fall off.  I repotted it in a larger pot with new potting mix and added in this:

Dr. Earth Orgnanic Fruit Tree Fertilizer

Shortly after I repotted, my family and I became convinced we had a dead animal under our deck.  Something reeked!  Really bad!  It took me a couple of weeks to realize that the Dr. Earth Organic Fertilizer was creating the stench.  It seemed to be worse when I watered the tree.  It was unbearable.  We discussed repotting or even giving up on the tree and getting rid of it.  The smell was coming in the house and had permeated the deck wood so there was no relief even when the pot was moved.

In a last-ditch effort to keep the tree we moved it to our roof.  We have an open balcony up there that gets full sun.  We put it up there and happily ignored the tree for weeks.  Eventually the smell faded and now–in the latter half of June–I can report that I don’t smell dead animals anymore.

I went up to visit the tree a few days ago.  That little tree has set fruit and grown leaves!  It looks so much healthier.  I am amazed at the change.

New buds on the dwarf meyer lemon tree.

A lemon takes shape.

Leaves have returned to the lemon tree. I didn't notice the fly in this photo until now! This tree must also be attracting pollinators such as bees which is contributing to its health.

All that sunshine is doing it good.  And I think that it likes to be left alone.  After a winter of being misted, watered, stared at, etc, it seems to enjoy the peace and quiet of the roof and the endless summer sunshine to bask in.  And really, that shouldn’t be a surprise.

Lemon trees are at home in a tropical climate.  Wisconsin is a foreign land to a lemon tree.  The roof is hot and sunny, the summer sun is abundant, and the humidity is just what the doctor ordered.

I don’t know what I’ll do in the fall.  If the plant still smells I won’t be able to bring it in the house.  I don’t have an outdoor area for overwintering plants that would be suitable for citrus.  I guess time will tell.

For now, I’m happy the tree is doing better and even happier that it has fruit on it.  Perhaps we’ll be enjoying lemons again soon.

This is the one ripe lemon I've harvested from my lemon tree... this was back in October last year.

Robins Eating Lunch

Mr. & Mrs. Robin have been keeping their brood well fed.  They bring worms to the nest every 5-10 minutes and the babies gobble them up.  In this video you’ll see the babies enjoying a worm, then that parent flies away and immediately the other parent flies in with another worm.

The babies change so much from day to day.

I’m so impressed with the way that both the mother and the father robin work together.  They really are a team.

Photos from the first week of June.

"Tennis Ball" lettuce is a gorgeous color.


Looks like we'll have lots of peas soon!


This honeysuckle looks like a delicious buffet to the hummingbirds.


A radish assortment.


Somebody is looking for his mama and some food.

Gathering Greens & A Few Other Things

Washed, bagged salad greens are perhaps one of the greatest inventions of our modern times.  Sort of.  It’s completely convenient and easy to dump them into a bowl and dress them for a salad, or into a skillet to saute for dinner.  They are clean and crisp, and relatively inexpensive.  But when I think of the gross amount of water and energy used to bring those greens to my table, I cringe a little bit.

Somewhere out in California or Mexico, depending on the season, those greens were grown, washed, bagged, loaded on a refrigerated truck, driven to Wisconsin, kept cold by refrigeration until they made their way to my house and ultimately my mouth.

It seems ridiculous because it’s so easy to just plant a few seeds out in my yard and eat fresh(er) greens anytime I want (as the season permits) using virtually a fraction of a fraction of the amount of energy used to bring me those bagged, washed grocery store varieties.

Don’t get me wrong: I do occasionally treat myself to box or bag of grocery store salad in the dead of winter.  I’m not a purist by any stretch of the imagination.

But I am thoughtful about my greens, and thankful I can grow ’em myself 7 months out of the year.

I like to grow spinach, arugula, head lettuce, leaf lettuce, swiss chard and will be adding kale to the lineup this year.  In addition we also eat the tops of our radishes and beets.

When I’m ready to make a salad or saute something green, I head outside.  Using a kitchen scissors I make quick work of gathering what I need.  As I cut, I put everything directly into my salad spinner.

I take the salad spinner insert outside to harvest greens.

Arugula fresh from the garden, prior to washing.

Once inside I use the salad spinner to bathe the greens in very cold water… this perks them right up and brings them to the perfect temperature for serving.  At the same time they are getting nice and clean without the use of machinery or bleach or anything else those big salad growers out West are using.

I spin them dry in the spinner and we are ready to use them.

When I want to prep the greens in advance of using them or I just have more than I can eat at one time, I store them in a plastic bag with a paper towel in it.  This seems to keep them crisp and they usually last at least a week in the refrigerator, sometimes longer.

Bagged arugula is ready for the refrigerator.

If I discover a more earth-friendly way to do this that doesn’t involve plastic or paper towels I’ll be happy.  But for now this works marvelously for me.

Now on to a few other items.  This time of year tomato plants are growing very quickly and putting new leaves, branches and blossoms every day.  I am in the habit and pinching off the “suckers” that grow between the stem and branches.  It helps to develop a stronger plant.

"Suckers" grow at the point where the stem meets the branch. At this size they are easy to pinch off.

We’ve also had some excellent bird viewing around the garden these last few days.  Our robins have been carefully guarding their eggs.  I’ve noticed that they take turns, one of them tends to sit on the nest most of the time and when it’s the second one’s turn to be on guard duty he prefers to sit on the edge of the nest or in a nearby location.  The fence that hides our air conditioner seems to be a favorite location.

This nest is so sweet. It's getting more difficult to see and photograph it as the honeysuckle has filled in.

Mr. Robin on his favorite perch at night. He's noticed me taking his picture.

Here is Mr. Robin in the background and the trellis where the nest sits in the foreground. He never lets the nest out of his sight and is quick to run other birds such as cardinals out of the yard.

Mrs. Robin dutifully sits. I wonder if these lights surprised her the first night they came on.

A yellow finch stopped by for a drink at the honeysuckle. I've also spotted hummingbirds here.

And finally, I’ve been very busy putting all the starts and seeds into the garden beds this last week.  I’m happy to report that (for now) everything is in!  There will be some successive planting and late season planting later on, but the big spring dig is done and I’m very pleased with how it’s come together so far.

Herb bed and trellis with honeysuckle.

Vegetable bed with the grid still in place. I've planted using a square foot approach this year.