Friday, June 07, 2013

Fingerling Potatoes

I love it when something is more successful than I hoped. Voila a bowl of fingerling potatoes.

Sometime in March I discovered the last few potatoes in a bag were a bit beyond eating. I hate that. I hate when food goes to waste.

My friend Douglas Welch at A Gardener’s Notebook stuck a few old potatoes in the ground in his garden and the plants were growing well. So I decided there was nothing to lose. (See our adventure to a local Garden Show).

My six old potatoes were cut into pieces with visible eyes (the beginnings of new plant growth) and stuck in two rows in my raised beds.

I’ve watered them occasionally and added additional soil around them as they grew. Really, it was minimal care. About a week ago some of the plants started dying back. So this morning I went potato digging and what did I find? Fingerling potatoes!

I only dug up about half of the plants and I already have more than twice the amount of potatoes I put in the ground. Potatoes are amazing. And perhaps this is a lesson for me: Potatoes seem to grow well in the soil and amount of light in my vegetable garden. Perhaps this is a crop I should plant more often.

This is what sustainability is all about. Reducing waste, growing food in a minimal footprint. Tonight we will have fresh potatoes for dinner. It is a good start to the day.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Allen's Hummingbird Builds Summer Nest

Look what's taking form in the garden.

Yesterday I spotted one of our Allen's hummingbird females working diligently on a new nest. June seems a little late, but the on-again off-again summer weather may have spurred this little female to try a brood before the heat of July and August.

Typically, we see hummingbirds nesting February through May. 

In March, these two Allen's hummingbird chicks took their first flights just a day after this photo. (A nest a few years ago in Jan /Feb.)

This female is obviously availing herself of the natural cotton in our "Nature's Nest" natural nesting material. She has been weaving the beige cotton fibers with spider webbing and decorating it with pieces of leaves and sticks. The natural cotton plant fiber is moisture resistant and helps keep chicks cool even as the weather heats up. 

The nesting material has become rather frayed at the edges as a variety of bird beaks have plucked and tugged at it. We've seen not only Allen's and Ann's hummingbirds, but lesser goldfinches and oak titmice using the Nature's Nest.

Interestingly, this new female Allen's is building her nest in the same low branches of the photinia that one of our long-term resident females used to build in all the time. Hummy raised several broods in nests built in this same location. That female hummingbird passed away or moved on in 2005. One of her daughters, "A," held the territory for five years, but for the last two summers no one female has held the territory or nested in this location. 

I can't help but wonder: Is this one of A's daughters or granddaughters? Or is this location and the upturn of these branches just ideal for Allen's hummingbirds to nest in?