June Gardening Update: Bugs, Birds, and Bunnies!

DSCN7515 (800x600)Here’s a current view of my garden as of early June. Usually by this point, it’d be looking a bit more filled in, but I’m going to let it be for what it is, realizing I’ve also completed another large gardening project this spring that took some of my attention away from the raised beds.

I’ve had an interesting assortment of creatures to my garden since I last updated you.

Ladybug on ParsleyI needed to take out these bolting parsley plants to make way for the summer cucumbers, but something caught my eye. On closer inspection, I noticed several ladybugs! Given that, I decided to leave about a third of the plants alone.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit in Backyard

A few weeks ago, I found this lil’ guy, happily munching on my dandelion leaves. He didn’t seem too afraid of me or eager to go.

DSCN6920 (800x600)In fact, at one point the rabbit seemed to be getting a little *too* comfortable in my backyard. I was hoping that he’d just stay munching on the dandelions and avoid my garden!

Baby Cottontail BunnyAbout a week later, I was mowing the yard when I noticed something moving. I realized that the “he” bunny was probably a “she” baby who’d had babies under my kids’ playset! Thank goodness I didn’t clip them with my mower!

Unfortunately, a few days later the nest was empty and the bunnies were gone – except the little guy pictured above. After a call to the Department of Fish & Wildlife, I learned that there is a good chance an animal may have gotten into the nest. However, I know that at least one survived, and I hope more did, too. For several days after discovering the empty bunny nest, Mama bunny would NOT leave our backyard! It was very sad, like she was waiting and looking for her babies. It’s been about a week now and I’ve seen no sign of any of them, but I’ve learned that a rabbit like that can have up to 7 litters PER YEAR. EEP.

Bird Eggs in Fuchsia Plant

So then over the weekend I’m watering my fuchsia plant and a little bird flies out, lands on the fence, and starts chirping at me. I grabbed the step stool and yep. It had laid eggs in my fuchsia. I’m honestly not sure what to do at this point. I don’t want to harm the birds, by any stretch, but I’d like to be able to continue to periodically water my plant. Thoughts?

And yeesh. Between the rabbits, bugs, birds… I’m kind of nervous what else is going to make babies in my yard!

Hardy Kiwi Blossom - Opens

Back to the plants… this is my favorite development in the garden right now! That would be my kiwi blossom opening! Both the male and female vines have some blossoms and open at the same too. Even better, I’ve noticed bees on them. While we don’t have many blossoms, I would be delighted to have even a few kiwi to enjoy this year.

By the way, we’re growing hardy kiwi, which is a bit different from the fuzzy kiwi you’d buy at the grocery store. These are going to be small fruits and you can eat the entire thing, much like a berry. We added these vines last year and have had no problems with them. They reached the top of the arbor by the end of last summer and now the two vines have met in the middle! They are very fun, fast-growing vines to watch. Recommend.

Garden PeasMy peas did not grow very big this year (perhaps I placed them in a shadier garden spot?). Regardless, they are starting to flower. My daughter loves eating these fresh, out of the pods. I grow them for her every year. They are a very easy, fun vegetable to grow if you’re looking for some ideas!

Garlic ScapesHere’s another exciting development: garlic scapes! Garlic scapes (the spindly stalk-like part growing in the middle) are edible – and delicious! Saute them in a little butter or olive oil and top with chopped bacon, grill them up, or use them to flavor stir fries or soups. (See this post on cooking with garlic scapes for more.) They have a wonderful mild garlic-y flavor. You can often find them at the Farmer’s Market this time of year too – just in case you’re not growing your own.

Organic Loose Leaf Lettuce

I feel like I’ve gotten SUCH a late jump on lettuce, but it’s just finally coming up now! This is an organic, loose-leaf variety I selected for its resistance to bolting. While I am planting a few butterhead lettuce heads as well, I find loose leaf lettuce is a better choice for a small garden because you can cut it, and it will come back. This means you will have a continuous harvest from the same patch versus a head of lettuce that you harvest and it’s gone.

Lettuce seedlings

This is why I recommend labeling what you’re planting and where. I have no idea what these are. I believe they are some sort of wild lettuce mix, but I’m not 100% sure. I also spy some parsley that had self seeded itself from last year. Fine, I’ll let it grow in the middle and then chop them all together for a zesty salad blend. Good timing as I’d just removed a fair amount of my parsley plants.

Ripening Blueberries and RaspberriesI have some berries ripening too! The bees are all over my raspberries and my blueberries are coming along nicely.

Growing your own strawberries

My son has been enjoying some of his strawberries, too! You might recall we have been growing this in a Big Bag Bed this year (currently ~$16 – 36 on Amazon), which I can’t recommend enough! It’s been a super easy, inexpensive, no-build way to add more grow space instantly. (Make sure to check out my Big Bag Bed post for more details!)

Mushroom Growing Near BasilThis year I’m apparently trying my hand at growing mushrooms. Mushrooms are an excellent source of nutrition and medicine… ah, yeah. Well, these mushrooms are just coming up all by themselves and as cute and decor-y they may be, I don’t know that I want them growing in my herb planter. I keep removing them, but they just keep coming back! Any idea what could be causing this?

Aphids on TomatoesAnother issue I seem to be having this year is black aphids on my tomatoes. So far it seems pretty isolated, so I’ve just been removing the lower leaves. Maybe I should move some of my parsley ladybugs over here!

While this might seem a bit depressing, I don’t want to paint the picture that gardening is so easy, it’s fun, and everything always turns out perfectly! Because that would be a lie. Sometimes things fail to grow (or germinate!), sometimes we deal with issues like fungi and aphids. As frustrating as these things can be, I’ve really worked to calm down and use these problems to grow in my gardening ability. I’ve said it before, but I’d still rather deal with some of these issues and find natural ways of dealing with them as opposed to dousing my garden with harmful chemicals.

Drying ChamomileI’ve been continuing to harvest the chamomile growing in one of my containers. It is currently drying on a splatter screen I bought at the Dollar Store propped over a $5 wine crate in my greenhouse. Let me tell you, when you walk into the greenhouse you’re hit POW! with this amazingly sweet fragrance. As you can tell from the photo above, I got a pretty decent harvest from my plants! Not tons and tons, but a good amount to make tea considering this was all grown in a single container.

I’m all about plants that give you a bang for the buck!

Now that we’re into June, I’m going to aim to provide a weekly update on the happenings of my garden – the good and the bad. I’d also love to hear from you – what’s growing in your garden right now? Have you been able to harvest anything lately? Please share!

If you liked this post, here are some other recent gardening posts you might enjoy:


Comments

  1. Leona says

    love seeing your garden.. It is really beautiful…. Do you have any suggestions on eliminating leaf cutter ants? I think they are the culprits eating my lettuce.

  2. Angela B says

    Just wanted to say I love your gardening posts. You convinced me to grow garlic this year and it has been great! Just made my first garlic scape pesto.

  3. Kayla M says

    My mom found a bird nest in her fuschias last year… She very carefully watered around the nest and the birdies turned out fine…that is until one fell out the nest and my mom sent my dad after the bird cause it went into the street….so funny towatch a big burly man try to herd a baby bird back into the yard :-)

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