Sunday, December 8, 2013

Merry Amaryllis

I planted a red amaryllis indoors in early November in hopes for some beautiful indoor blooms in December.  I was not disappointed.  The amaryllis blossomed in late November, so we were able to enjoy the blossoms for Thanksgiving and into the first week of December.  What a beauty.

Starting to blossom in mid-November

 Full blooms in December

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Bird Watch

At the end of October, I finally got around to thoroughly cleaning and refilling my bird feeders, which have been sitting empty since the end of last winter.  I made sure to get all the old moldy seeds out of the Droll Yankee Squirrel Flipper and my Perky Pet Copper feeder, let them completely dry, and then filled them with some general bird feed mix from Target. Then, I waited for my birds.

After about two weeks, I still had seen no birds and was getting discouraged that I had lost all the flocks that I catered to from last winter.  We had a lot of rain in the Austin area at the end of October and early November, so I checked my feeders again.  Sure enough, the mold was back from all the wetness and from not being eaten.  So, I went through the process again of cleaning out my feeders.

Finally, after a break in the weather, about three weeks after putting my feeders out, the birds finally returned.  Hurray!

I got to enjoy watching my birds over the long Thanksgiving weekend.  The birds will feed throughout the day, but the highest traffic hours are around 7:30-8am and 3:30-4pm.

Here are some of the birds that were in the garden today:

Here is a host of house sparrows that live in a large bush on the side of our house.  This is definitely our most prominent bird here in suburban Central Texas.  I have counted about 20-25 feeding and sitting around at one time.  The males have the black on their throats.  Apparently, this is the male's fall mating plumage. 

Female house sparrows eating on the copper feeder, near the covered porch, and closest to their nesting bush.

Here is one of my favorite visitors right now - my woodpecker, pecking away at the suet.  I'm pretty sure this is a female ladder-backed woodpecker.  The males have a red crown, while the female's is black. She certainly doesn't like to share.  Some of the sparrows have tried to get some of the suet while she is eating, which is a big no-no.  She viciously pecks at them until they fly away.More sparrows adorn the Droll Yankee Flipper. 

Here we have a dule of white-winged doves.  They are my second largest species that visits, with around 15-20 birds that I've seen in my yard at one time.

A couple days ago, when we were having a cold spell (30-40 degrees), I saw these three little Inca Doves huddled up on the window ledge, probably trying to capture some of the escaping heat from the house.

Other birds that I've seen in the yard in the past week:
-House Finches (2-3 total)
-Carolina Chickadee (only 1 little guy so far)
-Blue Jays (2)
-Hawk (1) - I didn't get a very good look at the markings, so I'm not sure what kind of hawk it was, but it was probably 12-16 inches long when I saw it sitting on our back fence.

I hope to get some Northern Cardinals, Goldfinches, and Titmice in not too long!  A few more Chickadees would be nice too.

Celery Magic

I read multiple times online that if you cut off the bottom couple inches of a bunch of celery and place it in some water, it will start to grow and you will shortly have your own celery plant.  I decided to give it a try.

Low and behold, within a few days, I started to see growth in the middle of the plant.  I added a few more celery stalks to my collection after I saw it actually worked.

I also tried this with romaine lettuce and got the same result.  

After a few weeks, the plants were large enough to plant outside in the veggie bed.  I dug a hole large enough to cover the old stalk and only had the new growth above ground, then watered thoroughly.  I then waited patiently to see how much more the plants would grow.

Unfortunately, they never did grow large enough for me to harvest any more celery.  I think part of the challenge might have been that I did this in winter, so I'll have to try it again in the spring to see if I get a different result.