Sunday, May 1, 2011

Are Your Peas Planted Yet?

In this part of the country, we have some traditional guidelines for farming and gardening: Corn should be "knee-high by the 4th of July." Plant root crops (carrots, turnips, etc.) when the moon is waning -- never plant anything during a new moon or full moon (I don't know about that one -- I'm not organized enough right now to take that into consideration, but maybe I should!).  And the one I try for: "Plant your peas on St. Patrick's Day." In Connecticut, the ground wherever I've lived is always a bit squishy for peas then, but I DO try to get my peas in as soon as the ground is workable.

So we have added peas & carrots, kohlrabi, a bunch more potatoes and onions, and some perennials to our garden over the past week: two new coralbells, a double-flowered purple coneflower, a gold-leafed bleeding heart, and an iris with jaunty striped leaves. We even got excited during this beautiful stretch of weather, and planted our pole beans, complete with their refurbished teepees. Then we moved around some wildflowers from last year's experiment with a bargain-basement box of wildflower mix -- found them proper homes grouped together in the beds. As we worked, our resident robin and catbird followed us around the yard, mining the newly overturned soil for grubs and worms. Malik is trying to teach the catbird to eat out of his hand. We'll keep working on it.

It was during our last planting extravaganza when I spotted the rose-breasted grosbeak on the feeder. Now, we live in Hartford, a small city, but definitely not even suburban -- very urban. But our lot is very large, and protected by a rambling hibiscus hedge row on two sides. And it backs against the lot of a rec center. So there is a nice little green spot for critters. And we get a lot of different birds that you wouldn't expect in the city.  But I had never seen a rose-breasted grosbeak here in the seven years we've lived here. I was so excited to show the bird to our youngest son that, when I crouched down to show it to him, I backed over the brick edging to my rose bed, and ended up sitting directly on my set of "Knock-out" shrub roses!

So that was a little embarrassing. Unfortunately, I guess I grabbed onto the nearest thing to keep from falling. Which happened to be my son. My poor baby came right into the rose bushes with me! He was not happy with me. But he DID see the grosbeak, and we looked it up later that evening for our notebooking time.

Here are updates to our bird list. I found an excellent site to add to your links for nature study, if you are studying birds: "Birds & Birding" -- tons of information, links to birdsongs, games, etc.  If you click on the individual birds, you will go to the individual page on that bird from the site. Also, go to my post from last time -- I have edited the bird list so it is "live" too! Have fun!

American Robin
Blue Jay
Common Yellowthroat (heard, not seen)
Eastern Towhee (female)
European Starling
Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The Notebooking Treasury has a wonderful set of science notebooking pages, which includes a number of pages for common North American birds. You can download it for free, but also check out the information on the complete North American Birds package, which is available from the site for purchase separately. We purchased the annual membership, which gives you access to the complete Treasury -- recommended!