Strawberries in the garden

Strawberries thrive here in the Pacific Northwest but this year the June bearers almost missed their month this year with some of the erratic weather we have had during the past couple months. Last year I planted about a half dozen June bearing plants in the holes of the cinder blocks that surround my raised bed. We got enough strawberries to keep our oldest daughter satisfied for an occasional snack but still had to supplement from the grocery store to satisfy her strawberry habit and with the rising produce prices I let the let some of the runners spread to their neighboring cinder block holes and some cases transplanting the start to a more appropriate location. A couple months ago I also planted some different varieties of Everbearing strawberries to provide fruit throughout more of the summer.

The normal life cycle of a strawberry plant is 3 years. The first year will consist of plant growth where you should see a decent number of strawberries but not as much as the second year. My second year plants are about a foot tall and have dozens of large strawberries growing on them. I have been cutting any runners that shoot out to allow the plant to spend its energy on those delicious berries. The third year the plant’s production will be less and will be spending more of its energy on its runners which is a good time to let those runners turn into new plants and let the cycle repeat. After the plants have finished producing this is the time to fertilize with a balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) otherwise this can lead to excessive leaf growth and less production. Fertilizing at this time will also give the plants the chance to store some much needed energy over the cold winter and have a good head start for the following spring.

Now this morning my oldest daughter was tired of picking strawberries sure it had nothing to do with her picking two and a half pounds of strawberries at Harvold Berry Farm the day before.

Make your own cheap butterfly feeder

As the days are getting longer (happy first day of summer) it is actually starting to get a little warmer even here in the Pacific Northwest so decided it would be a good time to add our homemade butterfly feeder to our butterfly garden, but first we actually had to make it.

If you want to make your own here is all you need:

– Plastic/glass container (baby jar, water bottle, etc)

– Nail

– Pliers

– Lighter (not pictured)

– Cotton or sponge

Steps to have your own buttery feeder in your garden:

1. Heat up nail with lighter (or candle) using pliers to avoid pain on your fingers.

2. Use hot nail to burn a hole through the plastic.

3. Stuff some cotton (swab, ball, shirt) or a piece of sponge in the hole and tight as possible.

4. Decorate with markers (make sure to have some red) plastic flowers etc (Optional but funnier for the kids)

5. Fill with some butterfly nectar (recipe below) and hang by some of your colorful flowers

Butterfly/Hummingbird Nectar
¼ cup of sugar
1 cup of water
3 drops of red food coloring [optional]

Add sugar and water to water bottle and shake. If you are using raw organic sugar bring water to boil and mix in sugar. Butterfly nectar is good for 2-3 weeks and water in feeder should be replaced a 3-4 days.

Does this all seem like too much work? Well you can also simply place over ripened fruit (bananas, apples, peaches, orange slices, etc) on a plate and your butterflies will love it.
Read Other Butterfly Garden Posts

Blog for the not so beautiful things out there

I see many blogs showing pictures of pretty flowers and cute little animals, when I was going on a nature hike today with my youngest daughter I came across some things that were interesting but not exactly beautiful which deserved some recognition.

If I saw this guy in my garden I probably wouldn’t be an inclined to stop and take his picture.

Uh, just a fly on a leaf…

Well potatoes are not that pretty so guess I wouldn’t expect the flowers to look much better