Monday, July 4, 2016

Carpenter Bees, Blueberries and Catbirds

In early spring, a queen Carpenter bee took up residence right next to our blueberry field. 
See the hole on the post to the right:

She regularly worked the blueberry blossoms, pollinating them, one by one, day by day. 
This helped ensure fully developed fruit.

She attempted to make additional homes in the poles, as you can see here, with her flying around, checking out different locations,  

and then actively chewing on the wood.

This is what her home looks like inside the post:

After mating, the female will burrow like this into untreated wood and lay eggs in a series of cells, providing balls of pollen for the larvae to feed on. The adults emerge in late summer.


Four of the 14 bushes were netted to keep the birds out.

The 6' foot bushes were ladened with fruit this year, thanks to the excellent pollination by the Carpenter bee. These bees are also important pollinators for eggplants and tomatoes. 

Carpenter bees are the largest native pollinators in the US. 
They emerge in early spring and work early in the morning until late in the evening. 
They have a medium length tongue, are sturdy, with a hairy thorax and a shiny black abdomen. 
These bees can travel up to a mile. 

(See a previous blog entry on March 12, 2012)

Every day, at least 2 - 4 Catbirds found their way into the netted enclosure. 
This has gone on for 2 weeks. I went out twice a day to check and let them out, where they then dashed back into the thicket, turning to meow, squeak or squawk at me.

It was always Catbirds! 

Gray Catbirds especially love blueberries and other fruit. 
They are mimics repeating a variety of sounds and can sing a song for up to 10 minutes.

Here is the first bowl. 

Yesterday afternoon, I went out and found 5 Catbirds in the enclosure and decided to go ahead, take down the netting and pick all the berries. 

After picking over 2 hours, 
the total collection came to 19 pounds or 27 pints.

There were still lots of berries left on the bushes and as I came out to the field today, I found over 10 birds feasting, including Thrashers, Robins, Sparrows and 
Catbirds, of course!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Early July Garden Report

Despite the late cold temperatures this spring, 
along with the frosts, then wet, now dry, 

the garden is doing well:

The lettuces have bolted and flowered and now lay composting, making room for green beans: heirloom Kentucky Wonder Bush (matures in 57 days) and Contender Stringless Beans (40 days). 

Earlier planted beans are flowering beautifully:

The zucchini and squash are prolific with numerous fruits growing right before my eyes:

The edamame is a new addition to the garden this year and growing 
nicely along with fuzzy pods. 

They are soybeans and harvested usually 35-40 days after flowering. 
They can be boiled or steamed and then salted for a healthy treat. 
They are quite tasty as soon as harvested, 
but can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

The July 4 Tomatoes have tomatoes, 

as promised!

But what I'm most excited about are the peas. 

Although we've had some quite hot days, but cool nights, 

the peas are producing!

Peas, peas, peas! 

I love how they are silhouetted in their pea pods:

They are delicious and I can't help but keep eating them 
as I pick them, 
delicately warm and crunchy.

Peas can be stored unshelled and unwashed in the refrigerator for several days. Fresh peas can be blanched in boiling water for 1-2 minutes and then frozen up to 6 months.

Happy Gardening 
and may we continue to be showered with rain, 
keeping a drought at bay.