Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Daylily Garden is Done!

Finally!  The new daylily garden is done. My husband edged the whole thing on hands and knees, while I moved mulch from our 10-yard pile.  It took us weeks because of the weather, other obligations, and just plain old age -- we don't work for hours at a time like we used to.
I hate to admit it but this will be the last time I try to spread mulch by myself. Since the plants were already in, I had to drop it be the handfuls; but now that it is finished, I feel it was worth it.  Hopefully it will last for a few years and help to hold back the weeds, but the next time it needs to be done, I will have a work party and offer to feed my family/workers a great meal.
This fall I'll be transplanting still more daylilies from my daughter's yard where they were housed during the sale of my previous house and the move here. There are a few openings left for the new plants and I have a long border garden along my driveway that is ready and waiting. I can't wait for daylily time (mostly July, but can be the end of June to September) to see how much color I get this year. But for right now I am just enjoying the fruits of my labor and this glorious spring.  The Daylily Garden is Done !!!

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Make Your Own Cherry Bird Suet Cake

A lot of songbirds are attracted to fruit, as you well know if you are trying to grow apples, peaches, pears or grapes!
Keep them away from your crop, by offering something of their own. Hang this suet cake away from your garden and keep the birds on the opposite side of the yard.

2 c. rendered suet
1 c. chunky peanut butter
1 c. canned or dried cherries
1 c. rolled oats
1/2 c, sugar
1 c. hulled sunflower seed
1 c. crushed graham crackers
1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
1 T. fine sand

Melt suet in a saucepan over low heat.  Add peanut butter, stirring until melted and well blended and reserve.  If using canned cherries, drain well and mix with the rest of the ingredients in a  large bowl.   Allow the suet-peanut butter blend to cool until slightly thickened, and then stir it into the mixture in the bowl.  If necessary, add more flour to reach a firm consistency.  Fill chosen container or press into a plastic lined cookie sheet or cake pan and freeze until hardened.  Cut into squares to fit suet cages.  Keep remainder in a bag in the freezer.

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Homemade Suet Cakes

All of a sudden the bird calls fill the air.  The bird activity is so great, you wonder why they don't run into each other while flying. Maybe they have their own highway system and driving rules; such as,  fly on the right side of the air path and dip the wing for a right turn blinker. They are busy making nests and preparing to produce little carbon copies of themselves. For this, they need lots of energy which can be found in homemade suet cakes.
Buying suet cakes to keep up with these hungry little guys can be expensive. I've found several home made suet cake recipes that I will be sharing.  It's fun and easy.
Many recipes call for rendered suet which just means that you should heat it over low heat and pour through a strainer or cloth to make sure there are no meat particles left behind.  You can purchase the suet at your meat market or butcher shop.  Sometimes it has been rendered for you.
You can add some seeds from your last year's vegetable garden.  Dry them well first and save them in a baggie in the refrigerator to keep them fresh until your are ready for the next year's use, if you are not planning on using them right away. Or buy seeds in bulk at your local farm store.

2 c. rendered suet
(use all or any combination of the following seeds, but keep the total amount equal in order to take up the bulk)
1/2 c. hulled sunflower seed
1/2 c. flax seed
1/2 c. cantaloupe or watermelon seeds
1/2 c.safflower seeds
1/2 c. thistle seeds
1/2 c. pumpkin or squash seeds

Melt the suet in a saucepan over low heat.  Allow it to cool thoroughly, and then reheat it.  Mix the seeds together in a large bowl.  Allow the suet to cool until slightly thickened, and then stir it into the mixture in the bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Cool until you can handle it.  Shape into cakes that will fit in your feeder or press into chosen molds ( I saved the plastic mold from purchased cakes I had used previously) Refrigerate until hard.  Serve and keep remainder in a marked bag in the freezer.

You can also mold these into a ball shape and drop into a mesh onion bag you have saved.  It's a great way to re-purpose items. Tie the bag tightly on both ends before hanging in a tree. Some birds love to cling to the side of the bag while it swings gently in the tree.
Now get busy, make your own suet cakes, your feathered friends will thank you.

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Orange Star Flower Resurgence

In December, I wrote about an Orange Star Flower that I had received for Mother's Day 2011 that was beginning to emerge from hibernation after I had placed it in a closet.  I had hopes that I could force it to bloom before its time.  But little did I know of this particular plant.
Although the greenery began to grow, it did not begin to bloom until it was good and ready.  Here it is, just in time for this year's Mother's Day.  It is not quite as prolific with orange stars as it had been when I first received it, but it is thriving nicely.  And it looks like there are more blooms to come throughout the spring and summer.
Until my daughter gave this plant to me, I had not heard of it before. I think it is fast becoming one of my favorites.

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow.