It’s all about the Hummingbirds!

Forget your woes, forget the weather!

Feed the hummingbirds and enjoy them fueling and feuding around your own backyard.

Please do remember to always use regular table sugar when making a batch of humm-juice.  Don’t use any substitute.  We humans may not like those calories in regular sugar, but the lives of your hummingbirds rely on those same calories, so make sure you are using the real deal.

To make a batch of humm-juice, bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup of regular white table sugar (no sugar substitutes, ever!), stir, remove from heat and let cool down before serving it to your feathered friends.  Store the rest in the fridge and do remember to clean the feeder regularly.

And in case it starts freezing again, check out my handout for instructions on how to winterize a hummingbird feeder.

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Feeding at my Jacob’s Ladder Monarda last summer

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The hummingbirds appreciate the Monarda even in winter!

 

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Co-existing with Tent Caterpillars (not)

IMG_1682Even though I have been picking out egg masses since last fall and dormant-sprayed my fruit trees and shrubs in winter, I am having my share of tent caterpillars hatching in my cherry, plum and pear trees, as well as my currant bushes.  They started hatching on April 14 in my garden in central Port Angeles.  While they are still small and easily overlooked, you’ll see them once you know what to look for.  I have been rubbing and cutting them out, combining the latter with spring pruning.  They are still small but they will start eating the leaves soon enough and before you know it, the caterpillars will be everywhere and your trees will be bare.  We are apparently still working our way toward some tent caterpillar peak, and if you thought last year was bad, this year is looking to be even worse.  And while these otherwise inoffensive creatures have their role to play in the whole ecological circle of things, I’ve decided they don’t need to do that thing in my garden.  My plan of action is to get out there in the evenings and continue to rub and cut them out manually.  Then this weekend, I will “B.T.” the plum trees, which are too tall for manual removal and I will repeat that throughout the growing season as needed.  B.T. is considered organic and safe for all but caterpillars.  Avoid using B.T. on plants that provide food for the larvae caterpillars of the tiger swallowtail butterfly, such as plants in the parsley (Apiaceae) family (carrot, dill, parsley, celery, lovage, and queen anne’s lace), and cherry, ash, birch, tulip tree, and lilac.  To read more about tent caterpillars, check out “How to get rid of tent caterpillars” and “Biology and Control of Tent Caterpillars.”   IMG_1681

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Get ready for tomatoes!

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I personally enjoy the cooler weather of central Port Angeles much better than the heat that seems to be everywhere else, but it does mean helping out my tomato, pepper, and cucumber plants.   I have been having excellent results growing all of them in home-made self-watering planters under a polycarbonate roof against the south wall of my house.  I was still harvesting tomatoes in November!  You can buy self-watering planters or you can make them yourself for about $12 each. Each planter holds two tomato plants, 4-6 pepper plants, or 3 cucumber plants. I put together a hand-out on how to make them yourself which you can download here.  If you are interested in making some, start saving all your quart-sized yogurt containers.  You will need five of them per planter.

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