We never know what we’ll discover growing at Pine Tar Patch. Over the last decade we’ve grown a little bit of everything. We also have a habit of taking our old seeds, dumping them all together in a bag, and spreading them out in the pasture or any other place we think they might grow. Last year we spread a mix of wildflowers over the top of the raised bed when we were done planting our potatoes. The result was better than expected. Lots of wildflowers for us and the bees to enjoy and when the potatoes came up we had no pest problems with the potatoes. Fast forward to this Spring and we have lots of volunteer wildflowers coming up where that raised be used to be. The magnificent California Poppy above stands out like bright red beacon in what is now the wildlife garden.
Tracking the growth of our Cherokee Purple tomatoes is fun. We wound up with 22 out of 24 seeds germinating and I admit I may have forgotten to plant 2 of those seeds. Yesterday I thinned those seedlings down to 11.
Here are our 11 biggest and strongest plants. At just over 2 weeks old they are putting on their second set of true leaves. They’ve been given a diet of seaweed fertilizer, rainwater, and plenty of sunshine. Either this weekend or the next, I’ll choose 6 of the strongest and pot them up. If you have any questions or comments you can contact us via Facebook, just click the button below.
We have a number of bird boxes for Eastern Bluebirds to nest in and every few weeks I’ll make the rounds and check them, cleaning out old nests and making sure the boxes are in good repair. Today as I checked the boxes I found this curled up happily in a nest box that was being used by a pair of bluebirds.
“She” is a corn snake that is native to this region. She most likely ate the baby birds that were in the nest but that’s how it goes. I removed her from the bird box and sent her on her way further out in the pasture (2nd pic). It was sad to think that the baby birds were eaten but snakes are an important part of the ecosystem. This one will go on to eat lots of bugs and rodents. She’s welcome to all she can eat!
These little seedlings will eventually produce Cherokee Purple tomatoes. A favorite here at the Patch for fresh eating. Their journey from seedling to yummy tomatoes will be posted here. Aren’t you lucky? Cherokee Purple tomatoes are a pre-1890 heirloom from Tennessee. The plants produce 10 to 12 ounce fruits that have a dark pink/purple color when ripe. It’s one of the best fresh eating tomatoes we’ve grown. There’s nothing like the taste of a fresh homegrown tomato, but a fresh homegrown Cherokee Purple tomato is a special treat.
While it doesn’t look like it would be a plant that people would welcome into their gardens, the thistle above is very welcome at Pine Tar Patch. Butterflies and larger bees love the flowers. We love to see the seeds floating in the wind later in Spring. Most of these thistles have unremarkable dull yellow flowers but we get a few each year that bloom in this lovely red/purple color.
One of our favorite times of year is when the citrus trees begin to bloom. The lemons have bloomed and set fruit but the star of the orchard right now is the Ambersweet orange tree. It’s loaded with blooms and it’s filling the orchard with the sweet smell of orange blossoms. I make a trip out to it almost every day just to sniff it. The honey bees and native pollinators are hard at work making sure we have plenty of oranges in the fall. These are some of the best oranges we’ve ever eaten, but that can be said of almost everything we grow on the homestead. Most citrus will do great in pots as long as they are properly cared for. We’ll be adding more citrus, if for no other reason than for the wonderful smells.
We’re big fans of the local wildlife and we do as much as we can to encourage them to visit our little homestead. This year, we’ve allowed some of the local flora to grow to feed the native pollinators (along with our honeybees). While the pic looks like mostly crimson clover, there is a whole world of plants in and around the clover. Various bees, wasps, flies, and even birds can be found hopping in, around, and on all the plants in the wildlife garden.
A tiny Methley plum on one of our plum trees. We haven’t had much luck with plums on the homestead but we keep trying. Even though it’s partner died a couple of years ago, this Methley plum is still going strong. We might have some plums if the squirrels and birds will leave us a few to munch on. Methley plums are great eaten right off the tree or made into preserves.
A quick Sunday morning audio recording of birdsong here at Pine Tar Patch.
Birds. Wild birds. We have a couple of feeders and birdbaths and they love it.