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It’s Huckleberry Time!

In my garden, I have a huckleberry bush specifically for the birds.

I keep hoping it will keep them away from my blueberries and raspberries but hope springs eternal.

Looking out my office window I can keep an eye on it and observe the different birds that love the little round red balls that are its fruit.

But, as we know… before the fruit comes the flowers which in turn are pure nectar for the hummingbirds.

It’s an early bloomer and supplies a much-needed boost to the hummingbird’s diet.

The flowers in turn also feed the bees so this bush is a win-win all the way around in the garden.

And… in a pinch, I could make jam or jelly out of it but choose not to and leave it for the birds.

So far this year, the following birds have lunched on the huckleberry bush.

  • Robin
  • Black-headed grosbeak
  • Dark-eyed junco
  • House finch
  • Spotted towhee

I also see chickadees and nuthatches in it but they appear to be either using it for shelter or eating bugs and caterpillars amongst its branches.

Our huckleberries are bright red when ripe as seen in the robin’s mouth as it launches itself off the bush.

But, you can also find the berries in shades of blue and purple which I never knew until I Googled it.

In doing a little research it appears that the red variety is found along the coast from California to BC.

The blue and black varieties are found further inland in the Pacific Northwest.

No matter what the colour it’s one of the plants that are part of birdscaping our yard.

And… bottom line, the birds love it.

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

When Is A Weed A Weed?

When is a weed a weed?

This question came up for me when I was doing some research on flowers in my garden.

Years ago I had bought a plant at a local craft fair and the seller told me it had beautiful yellow flowers.

Well at that point in time I really didn’t have a garden per se.

I was just planting some plants around a stump that was in the yard.

There already was some heather and a couple of primroses there so for a couple of dollars this might be a good addition to the family.

Until this year I never knew what it was called.

It was just a plant that grew about 4 feet high on long stems and had these awesome buds.

Bighead Knapweed bud

The buds look like a fuzzy door nobs that then bloom into beautiful yellow flowers.

Bighead Knapweed bloom

So this year I found a place on the internet that you could upload a picture of a plant and it will tell you what it is.

I’ve been having a wonderful time identifying plants in my garden that I had no idea what they were called.

Taking a picture of the plant I uploaded it to Plant Net a discovered it was a weed.

Not just any weed but a troublesome noxious weed.

It has many different names but it goes by Big yellow Centaurea or Giant knapweed.

Not being native to this part of the world it is definitely having an impact.

In Washington state, it is illegal to sell it.

Similar to the butterfly tree here in BC.

It is invasive and it is displacing native plants especially in fields where cattle graze.

Each seed head carries over 200 seeds that are dispersed not by the wind but by direct contact by livestock, farm equipment, vehicles and humans.

And the only way to get rid of them is to dig them up by the roots.

Well, you can imagine if you have a whole field of them it would be almost impossible to annihilate them.

Until I found out this information this was just a pretty plant with an unusual bud that bloomed every year without me having to take care of it in any shape or form.

I’ve never watered, fertilizer or talked to it.

But like the weed that it is, it needs very little attention of any kind.

The interesting thing is that mine is very well behaved, being the same size as when I bought it 10 years ago.

It sits in a corner of the garden providing bright yellow flowers amidst a dark forest background.

Apparently I don’t touch it or go near it when it goes to seed otherwise I’m sure my yard would be full of them.

But for now… my beautiful weed is just that… a beautiful weed.

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Pileated Woodpecker – A Backyard First

Over the past few days, I’ve had a Pileated Woodpecker show up at my suet feeder.

I’ve never had one in my backyard before and have very rarely seen them around on the island although I know they stay here all year long.

The ones that I’ve seen before have been at higher altitudes and I’m at sea level.

Even a bit of hill seemed to make a difference to sighting them.

At least that has been my experience.

I usually hear them before I see them.

Drumming away on a tree they have a very distinctive sound and when I hear it, I immediately look up and search the trees hoping to get a glimpse of its red crest.

The one in the picture above is a male and you can tell that by the red streak on its cheek.

The female doesn’t have this stripe.

The pileated woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America.

Although, that can be debated as the Ivory-bill woodpecker is actually the largest but it is considered extinct.

It has been 73 years since the last conclusive sighting although like bigfoot there is some bad video footage that might show that one still exists.

I have a friend who’s bucket list includes going to Louisiana and searching for the Ivory-bill woodpecker.

He’s not a birder but he read this story and it captured his imagination.

Pileated Woodpecker:

  • about the size of a crow
  • mainly eats carpenter ants but any tree boring insect will do
  • the holes they create in trees are rectangular in shape
  • their drumming can be heard up to a kilometre away
  • and now I have one in my backyard

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

I Listened To The Wind

I listened to the wind today.

I heard it calling and beckoning to me.

“Come play,” it said… “come play”.

Then blew the grass sideways and laughed.

The trees bent their branches under its force.

Their trunks swaying as it pushed against their upright bodies and then snapped back into place as the air passed them by.

As I lay in the grass and watched the wind delighting in its power it said, “watch this”.

And overhead appeared an eagle, soaring in the tempest.

Going ever higher and higher as the wind played in its wings.

I laughed in delight and thanked the wind.

It blew the roof off the greenhouse.

We had been talking about replacing it so it was perfect timing.

The plants in the garden shivered in its wake.

“I make them strong,” it said.

It danced through the birch trees making each leaf shimmer in the light.

And when it exhaled it banished the clouds from the sky.

Leaving only blueness and a lonely turkey vulture sailing on ebbing currents.

A calm finally settled in on the day and as the wind slowly gave way to a wafting breeze I could faintly hear… “watch for me… I’ll be back to play another day”.

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Homegrown Meal


After last week’s fiasco of eating pizza on Friday night I decided that this week I would spend some time in the garden harvesting dinner.

Not that it was a chore or anything.

I love working in the garden and I have the suntan to prove it.

It was time to thin out the carrots and the turnips.

You know… you think you’ve spaced them far enough apart when you plant but those little seeds get away on you and all of a sudden 5 carrots are trying to grow in a space meant for one.

So into the basket goes tiny baby carrots.

Next, the thinning from the golden turnips.

They look like little globes and this is the first time I’ve grown then.

In amongst the turnips were a large bunch of leaves that looked like turnip tops and when I pulled away some dirt from the top I could see it was a similar colour to the turnips.

These are always interesting as you never know if a seed got mixed up or if it was just a turnip gone wild.

Turns out it was a parsnip that was leftover from a planting two years ago.

Who knew they could remain dormant that long.

I left the beets as we had them last night for dinner and went onto the potatoes.

There is nothing like new little potatoes straight out of the dirt.

The potatoes are flowering right not, so I just scraped away a little dirt from around the top and came up with enough golden nuggets for a feed..

I also found that the rain hadn’t gotten underneath the leaves as the soil was dry so started the hose running on them.

Heading over to the romaine lettuce it was time to pick the last of it.

I had been picking it for the last month and now it was coming to its end.

Cutting them off at the base I take off all the outside leaves along with the slugs and bugs before taking the rest of the lettuce into the house and a cold bath.

Interestingly enough, on the base of the plants still left in the soil, there are new leaves growing.

So I’m wondering if I’m going to get a second crop of lettuce out of them.

The peas where saying… “pick me, pick me” so I obliged them.

They are a snap pea and the sweetness really comes when you just give them a light steam.

And for dessert… strawberries.

There is nothing like fresh strawberries plucked off the plant and popped in your mouth to make your taste buds swoon.

Last year I ripped out all my everbearing plants and took the runners of the June bearing plants and planted them in their place.

That means this year all my strawberries are coming at the same time but they are big and juicy.

I found the everbearing ones were small and deformed a lot of the time.

There is netting over the strawberries held down on each side by hooking it over some screws on the sides of the box.

Not to keep out the quails this time but definitely to keep out the raccoons.

One year they decimated the crop!

It seems if you’re going to live with the birds and critters you need to find a way to cohabitate together.

The best defence is a good offence.

By now it’s 6:30 pm and time to think about starting dinner so I head into the house to wash and prepare the feast.

Dinner for two fresh from the garden.

Talk about a homegrown meal!

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.

Eat Your Vegetables


You always hear the saying… eat your vegetables and on some level you know they are good for you.

And today I finally realized why it was important to eat your veggies.

First, let me say I love to garden and I grow most of the vegetables we eat.

But also, there are a few other reasons vegetables are good…

  • exercise – it gets me out in the garden growing them
  • the vegetables just taste better
  • they keep your regular (if you know what I mean)

So why did the light bulb go on this morning?

Well, this morning I woke up to aches and pains.

Every joint in my body was like it was inflamed and on fire.

I came out of the bedroom hobbling on a cane that I had from when my knee was really bad.

Now, my knee is much better, but it’s still not perfect as I haven’t been able to get to a chiropractor.

For the last two days its been great and I haven’t had to take an Advil for the pain.

Yesterday I was thinking that I might even try wearing shoes today as it was feeling that good.

(I haven’t had a pair of shoes on since I twisted my knee in January)

But, this morning dashed my dreams.

Both my knees were sore and on fire as well as my ankles, hips, elbows, wrists and any other part of the body that has a joint.

And it was all my fault!

You see… for the past week or two, we had been eating out of the garden.

Some nights for dinner it was just veggies and on other nights, a large number of veggies with a small piece of meat or fish.

Lunch is usually a salad as there is way too much lettuce in the garden right now.

So, each evening I head to the garden and pick a selection of lettuce, peas, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, golden turnips (they are yummy) and beets.

Wash them up, make a salad and steam or bake the rest.

I’m even getting strawberries although technically that’s a fruit.

Needless to say, we were eating clean with little or no processed food in our diet.

And, by eating my veggies my system had gone alkaline.

Now, there are numerous studies and diets written about having an alkaline system and it’s said that most diseases prefer an acidic one.

Here I am, minding my own business, eating my veggies and now its Friday night and I don’t feel like hunting,  gathering and preparing food.

Taking the easy road I take a pizza out of the freezer, add some veggies I had in the fridge, a couple of cloves of garlic, some olives and extra cheese.


But the after-effects were not worth the convenience or taste.

Eating all those carbs after a couple of weeks of veggies put my system in a tailspin.

I’m sure if I had one of those testing strips to see if you are acidic or alkaline I would have been at the top end of the acidic scale.

You would have thought someone had injected acid into all my joints they were so sore and stiff.

I knew instantly what had happened but that didn’t make it any better.

Drinking lots of water and a green smoothie for breakfast I was finally able to move without discomfort around 11 am.

Then, I headed out to the garden to give the plants a little fish fertilizer to help them grow lush and bountiful.

Seems like I have a vested interest in the garden this year and it was back veggies tonight with strawberries for dessert.

No more pizza for me!

Jigsaw Puzzle

If you need help with instructions click here.