- Author: Karen Metz
One of my favorite things in the garden is getting to watch the hummingbirds. I enjoy watching them travel from flower to flower, trying a little nectar here, and then a little nectar there. I love it when the sunlight reflects off their throat patch, giving it that ruby glow. I am impressed by their moxie. They don't seem afraid of creatures much larger than they are. I love their chirrupy call and the sound their wings make. I've been watching them for years, so I thought I'd seen pretty much everything ...
Until a few mornings ago, I went to my window and saw a hummingbird going from grape leaf to grape leaf. I was really puzzled as I knew there were not any flowers on the vine, and only two clusters of grapes on that vine. As I got closer I saw he was rubbing himself on the leaf, then ducking his head and throwing back his shoulders, all while his little wings were just whirring away. He did this on several leaves, before it finally dawned on me what was going on. The sprinklers had just finished running and the grape leaves were sheeted with water. The hummer was cleaning himself in the water on the leaves, and seemed to be having a grand time.
He also seems to think that the tomato cages have been put out for his convenience to perch on and rest in between checking out gladiola blossoms. Hey, I am always happy to be of service.
- Author: Karen Metz
It seems like every year there is one plant or crop that stands out, sometimes because of its success and sometimes because of its abject failure. This year the spaghetti squash has been the star of the show. I saved the seeds from a squash from a farmers' market and started them in little six packs. I was starting several other kinds of squash as well. This year's garden was slow to get started as we had a prolonged cool spring. By the time things started growing I had forgotten which squash was where. Most of the squash stayed politely where they had been planted, but the spaghetti squash took off running.
Soon it had grown through my tomato cages, escaped the bounds of my raised beds and started up the climbing roses. I would whack it back every now and then to leave room for the other vegetables. After it began flowering and setting fruit, I was amazed at the size of some of them. Some were like small watermelon. Now they have turned from green to orange instead of the expected yellow.
For those of you not familiar with spaghetti squash, it's a winter squash that when halved, seeded, and cooked, has flesh that can be separated into spaghetti like strands with a fork. Squash are famous for their ability to cross pollinate so I'm starting to wonder if there isn't a bit of pumpkin in this squash's background. I guess I won't know until I try and cook them.
When I went on the web to try and look up the proper timing of the spaghetti squash harvest, I had my first exposure to garden forum humor. When others had asked a similar question, the answers had ranged from when the water is boiling to when the meatballs are ready. Apparently the real answer is to let the color change from green to yellow and to wait til the skin thickens, hardens, and cannot be pierced with your fingernail. Then the squash will be able to be stored for months.