when summer is young…flowers and chicks
July 5. Wedding flower update: The Nicotiana are beginning to flower, way ahead of schedule, but it’s just as well because flowering early is the least of their problems. All but four of the plants are the wrong variety, a pale color Baker Creek offers as ‘Lime Green’, not the rosy-pink mix we bought as ‘Scentsation’. If the color was an eye-popping chartreuse it might do, except for another feature: the green-flowered plants have absolutely no scent. And with six weeks to go before the wedding, we can’t quite start over.
Ammi and stock are beginning to bloom too – we can only hope that obsessive deadheading will keep flowers coming. The border glads planted at two-week intervals have equalized their growth so now there is no discernible difference between them. I don’t want to see flower stalks for many weeks. Sunflowers way behind but now established and growing fast. Zinnias, the totally foolproof flowers of my southern California childhood, are offering themselves as the sacrificial bug magnets of the hoophouses. It looks like the damage cucumber beetles do, and neighbors report unusually heavy infestations this year, but our cucumbers, growing immediately adjacent to the zinnias, are untouched. I have yet to remember, during the nighttime, to go out with a flashlight to search for the culprits in action.
Maybe I haven’t remembered because I’ve had other culprits on my mind. We lost four of the 2-month-old chicks a few nights ago to a weasel-sized predator that tunneled in at a corner where the buried wire had rusted away. We set a cement foundation for that corner the next day, have locked the chicks inside at night (some were roosting in their covered outdoor pen, which we had assumed was safe), and are taking the fierce Poobrador out on nighttime patrols of Chicken World’s perimeters. The animal has been back to sniff around and do a little ineffectual digging, but with no further meals available will probably move on soon. We’ve been fortunate with chicken predation for a good long while– this is the first loss in four years.
On a happier chick note, the Delaware pullets and cockerel we’re keeping told me their names yesterday – Dinah, Delilah, and Denny. I’m not surprised they’re the first to reveal this information, as they’ve been very socially assertive and confident from the beginning. We’re also trying two other breeds that are new to us: Buff Chanteclers, roly-poly Canadian winter layers, and Sicilian Buttercups, perhaps the prettiest of the crop with their stripy russet coloring and cup-shaped combs.