Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Eggs & Early Harvest/Progress Report

Today, as I stood on our plastic folding table to water the hanging cherry tomato, I spotted at least two eggs in the Finch nest. I couldn't quite see the interior of the entire nest, so there are probably more than that. I wish I could've taken a picture, but lately it's been a rare event that the mother leaves the nest and she is only gone for maybe a minute at a time, so I had to be sneaky-quick. It's difficult to get good pictures of her sitting on the nest because the hanging basket is framed with sky and extremely backlit, but I'll try next time I spot a good Finch photo-op.

As for our other veggies, we are still fighting the good fight against aphids. The Roma tomato has several blossoms on it, and the Patio variety has some buds. We've already gotten several (3 or 4?) ripe tomatoes off the hanging cherry, but they were a bit mealy and not terribly flavorful. We picked a small handful of Sugar snap Peas, but they were fibrous since it's getting downright late in the year for spring snap peas… Oh! And my fiancé spotted a baby bean the other day. The eggplant has put up another set of leaves (a good thing, since it took the first wave of aphid damage), but the Bell Pepper still seems to be struggling due to aphids. We soap spray them with a mixture of peppermint castile soap and water (this is my favorite kind to use) every chance we get, and it seems to be helping some.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Carpodacus mexicanus, 5 1/2"

Common Name: House Finch

"Nest of twigs and grasses, placed in shrub, vine, hanging planter,"aha!"or birdhouse. Eggs: 2-6, bluish white with speckles; Incubation peridod: 12-16 days, Time to fledging: 11-19 days, Broods per year: 1-3."

"Originally from West, expanding range in East; often build nests in hanging outdoor planters."

Stokes, Donald & Lillian. Beginner's Guide to Birds: Eastern Region. Singapore: Little, Brown and Company, 1996.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Excitement & Updates

So we had an absolutely gigan-tormous storm yesterday evening. The sky got this nasty shade of green, and the finches were nowhere to be seen for several hours. I tied an extra piece of string around the Roma and its stake so it wouldn't get damaged in case of high winds. The clouds were quite spectacular—although we didn't get any hail here (or for that matter…much wind or rain), there were lots of people not too far away that got pummeled.

And the verdict is in! The cute little finch couple is not just looking for eats. They are building a nest. We've decided to not try to discourage them. I considered it (for ease of watering the tomato and harvesting, etc.), but when I took the hanging basket down and saw the little pieces of hair that they had so carefully collected and arranged…needless to say I didn't have the heart!

Oh, and did I mention that we have things ripening? Several of the cherry tomatoes in the hanging basket are ripening (please don't eat them liitle finches…), as are some sugar snap peas. And the bell pepper and bush beans are blooming. We've been fighting the good fight against a horde of aphids in our little balcony garden, but it looks like the cukes—which were hit hardest—are recovering nicely.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Wonderful Wildlife Just Won't Give Up

So Swallow tragedy aside, (it's not really a tragedy…I see them flitting around the parking lot and I'm sure they're building a nest somewhere new.) Anyways, there are a cute pair of House Finches that have taken a liking to our balcony garden! They have been landing on our cherry tomato hanging basket and mixed salad greens hanging basket. We're not entirely sure if they're looking for a nesting site, or just waiting for the tomatoes to ripen cause they have the munchies. Either way, they are cute! And they have a beautiful song, too.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Mean People Suck

You may not be familiar with the phrase, "Mean people suck." It was highly popular in my middle school and high school years, and I find it useful now, as well. On Friday night, at around 10:30 PM, my fiancé and I heard a racket just outside our apartment door. Alarmed and curious, he peered through the peephole just in time to see our neighbor (lives in the apartment next to us) wielding a snow broom and knocking the hell out of the light outside our door. The light that, up until Friday night, contained a Barn Swallow nest. (See previous post—Tuesday, May 29—for more information and photos)

I'm not sure why anyone would be so cruel, or heartless, but apparently our neighbor had taken it upon herself to evict the Barn Swallows. This in and of itself is incomprehensibly evil to me, but, it also caused quite a bit of damage to the light outside our door. We have written a letter of complaint to the management team at our apartment complex informing them of the perpetrator and of the damage she caused to their property. Hopefully it isn't a fire hazard. The swallows, thankfully, seem fine, and we don't know if they had eggs laid yet. They have apparently, however, taken it in their cute little heads to build a new nest somewhere else. Although I'll miss watching them, hopefully their new nest will be in a safer location.