Glorious Color and Other Tidbits

The month of June has the busiest, craziest, most-dragging-on weeks of the year for us, but they’re also a happy time.  I feel like “Olaf” in the movie Frozen…summer is here! Cooler weather? “Let it go! Let it go!”  Time to get busy, get plantin’, and really enjoy life. Come join my family as we transition to the new season.

My favorite peony plant never disappoints...

My favorite peony plant never disappoints…

My husband’s been squeezing every last minute he can into cutting and making firewood of all the downed trees in our woods, before snakes and poison ivy are out. (Did you know that Denmark, where my husband’s from, only has one, rarely-if-ever-seen venomous snake? My home state of Texas is unofficially “snake capital”. I guess Connecticut’s middle ground. We don’t have that many snakes here).  Next year, that clearing will be where the beehives go. My daughter’s finishing up her last weeks of school, with what seems like never-ending-end-of-year activities. Suddenly, it’s time to plant seedlings, start mowing, and put out potted plants.  For me, I’m busy, too, but it’s hard to feel stressed when there’s so much refreshing color everywhere! There’s green finally! I really appreciate greenery after everything was drab for so long.  While I’ve been planting annuals like geraniums, zinnias, and morning glories, I’m thankful for my perennial beds and the early bloomers.

Bleeding hearts bloom early, then stay green.

Bleeding hearts bloom early, then stay green.

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One of my all-time favorite plants is increasing in popularity: hostas. I first heard of Hostas decades ago on Martha Stewart’s earliest show that was filmed out of her Connecticut home. One of the first plants to bloom each season, they get bigger and rounder with each passing year. The foliage ranges from solids in greens and lavender-blue-green, to variegated combos.

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Hostas grow well almost anywhere, but thrive in shade or partial shade, making them good additions to my areas surrounded by trees. They bloom a flower stalk in late summer, and are the last things to take a bow when winter’s frost arrives again. Let me stress, however, Hostas are DEER CANDY. If you plant hostas, make sure to protect them! Once the beautiful leaves are nibbled, they don’t come back until next season (and it isn’t pretty). The best success I’ve had is to spray with a putrid egg/garlic-based spray, repeating every few weeks or after heavy rain. I’ve seen the edges of my hostas “tasted”, as if the deer are “checking” the effects of the spray. As long as I keep up with it, my hostas stay beautiful all season.

I sat next to this hosta for scale. Hosta plants can start out very tiny, but increase in size each year. These are some of the first I ever planted!

I sat next to this Hosta for scale. Hosta plants can start out very tiny, but increase in size each year. These are some of the first I ever planted!

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Another favorite: the hens-and-chickens succulent. This plant looks adorable tucked into strawberry pots.  However, plants in the pockets of my pot always seemed to die after awhile, due to lack of water. I solved the problem by re-purposing bendable drinking straws, cut to size and placing them beneath the soil with the the short, bended end pointed toward the pockets. Now everything is watered evenly. The plant pictured was potted last summer, survived winter inside the house, and is now outside for the summer.

Yum! Eggplant, lettuce, kale, cukes, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, carrots...I can't wait. Off to a good start.

Yum! Eggplant, lettuce, kale, cukes, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, carrots…I can’t wait. Off to a good start.

We put in a larger garden this year. While I’m a fan of organic gardening, utilizing compost and organic or heirloom seeds, I’m also an advocate of chemical-free pest control.  Got slugs? Set out a shallow dish of beer. For pesky moles, I’ve picked up a windmill mole chaser at Harbor Freight tools for around $10.00, that a neighbor recommended last year. It works, and is cute, too.

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The chickens are lovin’ the sunny weather, chasing insects and taking dirt baths in the sun. I’ve created a “chicken playground” with CD’s hung from twine (like a chicken disco ball), rotting logs to hide treats in, and places to perch and dig.

Group dirt bath - fowl equivalent to a public pool?

Group dirt bath – fowl equivalent to a public pool?

I also put chicken scratch in an empty plastic water bottle poked with holes. They love to kick and pounce on it…it’s the farmgirl equivalent of watching a soccer match. Hot weather can be hard on chickens. Avoid corn…it can raise their body temperature. Help them cool their body temps by treating them to fresh mint leaves.  My flock loves it!

Nugget hunts for treats while Spot does a photo bomb.

Nugget hunts for treats while Spot does a photo bomb.

Got Treats?

Got Treats?

I see winged beauties are back. We’ve had some interesting visitors recently.

The hummers came early this year…

 The hummers came early this year.

One recent morning, we woke up to a Luna Moth.  Rare, they only live one week after turning into a moth and have no mouths, so they do not eat.

Luna Moth

Luna Moth

Love the polka dots on the Eight Spotted Forester Moth…

Eight-Spotted Forester Moth. Flies during the day.

Eight-Spotted Forester Moth. Flies during the day.

My English mini lilacs bloom much later than conventional bushes.

My English mini lilacs bloom much later than conventional bushes.

A caterpillar readies to make its cocoon on a raspberry leaf.

A caterpillar readies to make its cocoon on a raspberry leaf.

And we’ve seen various spiders, toads, and frogs, nature’s pest control.

EEEeeek! While HUGE, Wolf spiders are good pest hunters in the garden.

EEEeeek! While HUGE, Wolf spiders are good pest hunters in the garden.

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My daughter saved this toad from certain tragedy inside the chicken coop.

My daughter saved this toad from certain tragedy inside the chicken coop.

Even toads love their babies!

Even toads love their babies!

Wherever you are, I hope you are having a beautiful late spring/early summer, too. Remember to kick back and relax a bit, too!

Chicken selfie. ;)

Chicken selfie. ;)

 

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 22 Comments

  1. Susan Roberts says:

    Thank you for sharing the gorgeous pictures. Here in Minneapolis is finally greening up – first flowers to bloom in my yard just over the weekend – a lovely purple iris.

  2. Joan says:

    What a fun visit! I can see your beautiful farmgirl paradise coming to life again. Thanks for sharing. God bless.

  3. Diane Loehr says:

    I love all the planting and animals that you shared with us in this newsletter. But I have to ask what is the name of that huge Hostas that you are sitting by? I have never seen a hostas with such huge leaves. I definitely would like to get one for my yard. Have a wonderful day! Diane

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Diane! Thank you for commenting. I will see if I can find the specific name for you, although I planted it so long ago. It is over ten years old now. What I will tell you is that when it started, it was just a seedling. Many people thin their hostas each year, which I do not. Left alone, my Hosta babies have grown huge! I also feed them with organic plant food a couple of times a month in the summer after they have fully “popped” out of the ground. Hope this helps! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Diane, I did some research. I no longer know the specific name for that hosta, and the nursery I bought it from has closed down. However, if you Google “giant hosta”, it looks that mine may be the “Biggie Hosta”. There is a site based in New Hampshire that comes up on that search that sells them reasonably. Hope that helps! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Adrienne says:

    Looks like you’re having a wonderful time! I’ll bet you can’t wait to sample some of the great veggies from your garden. That first warm bite is the best. Congratulations on all your hard work. It will be great when you can help the bees next year and they gift you with honey.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Good morning, Adrienne! Oh, you are so right! I am really looking forward to fresh veggies right from my garden, especially tomatoes! This has been a really cold, wet year. The weather is still pretty mild, with just a day here or there with really hot weather, but nothing over the eighties. The upside is that with all this water and mild sunshine, the garden is looking amazing, and I’m going to get more berries than ever when they turn, too! And I am looking forward to bees next year. This year was chickens. Big Farmgirl hugs to you! Nicole

  5. denise says:

    loved the chicken selfie!!!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks! That’s my favorite hen girl, Nugget. Life’s to short not be silly once in awhile, right? Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. Beverly Battaglia says:

    Nicole, I am so impressed with the red peony, picture is beautiful. I cannot believe how big your hosta is! And the size of your garden! Such an interesting and informative blog.
    I think the picture of the hummingbird in flight is spectacular too. I did not know about the spotted moth. I love the picture of you with your chicken and beautiful smile on your face. You look happy!
    Love you, Mother

  7. Rose says:

    Loved seeing pictures of your flowers, chickens, and vegetable garden! I miss June in Connecticut. The weather is nice to get outdoor home projects done before the hot days of summer begin.

    Thanks for the information on the windmill mole chaser. I never heard of that product. Let me know how good it works at keeping the moles out of your garden.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Rose! Connecticut misses you, too. This spring was not the same without your yearly visit, but hopefully soon I can head up to you this time. The windmill mole chaser works great! I had a terrible, awful time with moles recently. Since putting it out a few weeks ago, I haven’t seen a one. I moved it a couple of times to where they were, and it seems they have moved on out! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  8. Heidi says:

    I adore your blog! The posts just get better with each season. Thank you for sharing your home and life with all of us.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Wow, Heidi, thank you! What a compliment! Glad you enjoyed today’s visit. Big Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Dorothy says:

    Thanks for the wonderful blog. I don’t always say post here but I enjoy what you share. The pictures are wonderful. Guess I better put some color out in my yard.

  10. Cindy Hedrick says:

    Hi Nicole,

    I enjoyed meeting you and chatting with you the other day at the school. I’m very interested in your recipe for laundry detergent. The website is terrific – great job on your blog!

    Cindy

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Cindy, So nice meeting you too! I’m emailing you directly the recipe, but here it is, too:
      1/3 bar soap (Fels Naptha Laundry soap, Zote, or a natural bar soap of your choice)
      1 cup borax
      1 cup washing soda
      1 cup baking soda
      Grate the soap using a fine gauge grater (I use a box grater)
      Mix the rest of the ingredients. Store in airtight container (I use a glass biscuit jar). 1 TBSP for small loads, up to 1/4 cup large or heavy loads. Use vinegar for softener.
      Thanks! Nicole

  11. Denise Ross says:

    What a treat to share your farmgirl life with us. Thank you. I’ve learnt from this post too :) I’m not really comfortable with insects but am hoping that with learning of the value of each and every creature I will grow to be more comfortable around them. I don’t know if I’ll ever actually handle them in my hands like your daughter is holding the frog, but who knows :)

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Denise, I am so glad you enjoyed my post. I think my daughter will grow up to do something with animals…she loves them all. Even the creepy ones, like bats. I really think they are hideous looking, (I know they are beneficial), but since she was tiny, she could stand in the bat house at the zoo and admire them FOREVER. When she was a toddler, we had one stuck in between the screen and a window, and had to call animal control. I just knew it had rabies. Turns out, it wasn’t sick, just stuck and needed help by a trained professional to get loose. The bat turned out to be a baby (a hairless, spitting baby, no less). When the animal control officer freed it, the mother bat swooped down and they flew off together. My daughter told me, “See, Mommy…not creepy, BOO-tiful!” I still laugh about that day. Farmgirl hugs, Nicole

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