Bluebirds and Brussels Sprouts

Two new things happened in the garden this spring!

Bluebirds made their home in the bluebird house which I had put up several years ago, but sparrows had always gotten in there first.  This spring bluebirds successfully nested in the house and are currently feeding their hungry little babies.  I’m hoping to get more photos of these lovely birds but here are two I got while watching them quietly from my chair under the nearby oak tree.

Mama bluebird bringing food to her babies.

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Done with feeding, now what? Probably going to get more food!

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The second new thing is a Brussels sprout plant is growing!

My husband and I love Brussels sprouts so I thought I’d try to grow some.  In the early fall 2015, I tucked a few seeds in the ground hoping they might grow, but doubting they would since I’d never grown them before and never have had any luck with cabbage family plants.  Amazingly one plant popped up and actually survived the winter temperatures and hard frosts.  As of today it is about 3 feet high! It is fun watching it grow and see where the little sprouts will appear.  It’s looking so good, I’m hoping we really get to eat some before any insects try to compete with us or spring storms crush the plant with high wind or hailstones.

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Have you ever seen a Brussels sprout plant flower? How pretty they are at the top of the plant now blooming.  Brussels sprouts are part of the cruciferae or mustard family, so known because of a 4-part flower in the shape of a cross.

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Birds and Blueberries

011Blueberries are ripening and we are enjoying a small handful every day.  What fun to walk in a garden, pick a blueberry and eat it right off the plant.  Even if you don’t have a garden spot or wish to grow lots of blueberries, you can plant yourself a blueberry bush in your backyard or even in a patio container.  If you need, or like, having some kind of hedge plant, consider blueberry bushes.  They are green all summer and have in the fall lovely orange and red leaves.  And in the summer you can eat fresh fruit from your hedge!

I just happen to be a bit obsessed with blueberries as my children tell me; I have 50 young plants growing now. They ask me what I will do with so many blueberries.  “Wouldn’t that be a nice problem”, I reply.  The plants I have are all young and it will be a few years before they reach 4 and 5 feet high and produce “tons” of blueberries.  If that ever happens and I have too many berries to freeze, make jam, give to family and friends, I would sell to local markets.

But, in the meantime I’m greedy with the small amounts I am getting from young but fruitful plants.  The many birds in my garden, especially the mockingbirds, and I are in competition for blueberries.  Why should they reap the fruits of my labor?   I do love birds and invite them into my garden, except to eat blueberries.  My first attempt to keep them away was bird netting.  That was a problem because the leaves and twigs from the berry plants got tangled in the netting and hard to access the berries.  Then, I heard about bird scare tape and bought some from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

birdscareflashtapeIt has worked wonderfully for me!  You might be able to find this flashy tape at a local garden center as well.

At first I tied the tape onto a berry branch but when the wind blew it would tangle the tape into the branches and berries.  Keeps the birds away no doubt but I didn’t like the tangled mess.

My next idea was to put in some staking rods here and there along the rows.  I tie the tape to an end rod and pass it through a couple more rods to the other end of the row, twisting the tape loosely a couple of times so it really looks flashy with its red and silver color in the sunlight and wind. The slightest breeze ruffles the tape and apparently does its job of scaring away birds from the berries.

010005In years to come, if I ever get too many blueberries and don’t know what to do with them all, I will designate a bush or two just for the birds who come to my garden.  😊