Swallow-tailed 🦅 Kite

Kite- Eagle, Hawk Raptor Family

Sighting Deltona, Fl  May 4, 2020

Before leaving the page, there is a link at the bottom to report sightings


This afternoon I looked up to see a full grown “Swallow Tailed Kite”.  I was only equipped with my cell phone in hand which limited a nice photo.  I’m just happy to see it arrive. I’m not happy to know it is robbing nests since it is a carnivore. It’s food sources are also rodents, snakes, lizards and pests.

One of the most beautiful birds in “Deltona Florida”, the unmistakable, elegant swallow-tail kite is easily recognized by its deeply forked tail, distinctive black and white plumage, and graceful aerial displays. Juvenile birds can be identified by the lack of the deeply forked tail.


Swallow-tailed kites are almost always seen in the air. If you are lucky enough to be able to watch one for any length of time you will notice them swoop to pluck an insect out of the sky or a fledgling bird from a nest, and then eat the meal while flying.  Swallow-tail kites feed entirely on the wing, primarily on insects, lizards, frogs, snakes and small birds.  They drink on the wing like a swallow, swooping low to snatch water from the surface of a river or lake.


Swallow-tail kites arrive in Florida from South America in late February to mid-March.  They are most obvious at this time of the year as they carry sticks, moss and other nesting material to their chosen nest site.  Nests are usually in the top of one of the tallest trees in a pine or cypress stand.

After the two or three young fledge, the adults and young birds fly south again, first gathering in communal roosts in south Florida before migrating to South America.  One such roost near Fisheating Creek near Lake Okeechobee contained approximately 2,000 birds.  In 1996, Dr Ken Meyer attached radio transmitters to 6 swallow-tailed kites and followed their migration route through Cuba, Mexico and Central America to their wintering area in Brazil.


Click here to find out where you can report swallow-tailed kite sightings in your area.

Article info reference courtesy WildFlorida.com

Little Downy

I miss the tiny little Downy Woodpecker.
Unfortunately the tree where the little one called home, no longer exists.


Cutting down dead trees, can sometimes destroy a living habit. Unsightly? Yes.

I recently had the top half of a twisted oak tree cut and left the tall trunk for woodpeckers.  It sits in the very back hidden. There looks to be hundreds of poke holes all over the dead tree trunk.
I had attracted the king of woodpeckers to that tree a few weeks ago. You guessed it. The red headed Piliated Wood Woodpecker!  Ripped off a good portion of tree bark at the top of pine. Simply a beautiful bird.

Reminising about my little Downy I thought I’d share my past houseguest with you.

Adobe Spark Page close up of the
Downy Woodpecker


Bumper Crop

This year I used only Non GMO seeds.

The tomatoes have been amazing producers. The trunks are 3″ around and very sturdy. The difference is remarkable.

I had to buy a trellis to hold up the heavier tomatoes. I used “knee high” stockings to tie up branches. The nylon is forgiving and will stretch during growth with no damage to branch.

The trellis made longways.

My mother taught me to use a nylon stocking to put the tomato in while growing so bugs can’t destroy the fruit. I haven’t had to do that but it’s also a useful recycling tip for those old stockings!

The garden has exploded and the heat is definitely on. I placed my plants in semi shade to get through the hottest summer weather. It only took 30 years to figure this out!

I watched the movement of the sunrise and sunset as it changes and placed plants accordingly. Brilliant idea!!!

About 4 lbs of tomatoes -so far! ❤️

I’ve eaten as many salads as I can with tomatoes but I just can’t keep up!! So freezing for spaghetti sauce which I look forward to soon!!

The trick to a longer growing season is from ground zero up. Keeping the base of the plants in shade is the key. The height reaches the sun where it’s most needed! Also a sheet of weed barrier helps hold moisture.

It’s so hot. “How hot is it”? It’s so hot that I hope the garden survives without me.

My husband informed me it was 100 degrees today.

Here is a little update of what the rest of the yard looks like. The pond still needs work but the Koi aren’t picky how it looks!

Very much over growing.


Celery 2 yrs old. Good producers from seed.

Ah the Jalepeno! If you plant it, it will grow- like crazy.

The Koi Pond by my husband.

Desert Rose


See ya soon – AJ the great white lizard hunter ❤️


I often think of the song “Woodstock” performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

”We have got to get ourselves back to the garden”


Did you know Joanie Mitchell wrote the song Woodstock for CSNY to sing at Woodstock?

by Joanie Mitchell

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But you know life is for learning

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
back to the garden

August 2019. Will it happen – I do not know. Rumors of cancellation.

The lineup for Woodstock 50 is officially here.
Jay-Z, The Killers, Chance the Rapper, The Black Keys, Halsey, Robert Plant, Miley Cyrus, Common, Janelle Monae, Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlile, and Jack White’s The Raconteurs are among the big-name artists scheduled to perform at the official 50th anniversary concert festival on Aug. 16-18, 2019, in Watkins Glen, N.Y.



Florida flowers: The unique Crossandra/Florida Sunset

From my friend Joann in Orlando. Wonderful blog!

Midnight Harmony

I saw these crossandra flowers several weeks ago in a park near where I live. The bright orange color caught my eye. I took some photos but thought that perhaps the blossoms were in the process of dying.

JoAnn Ryan – Orlando, FL

I went back a few days ago and it had the same wilty-looking petals. I realized this was just the normal composition of the flower. It had just rained and the sky was still overcast when I took these photos. I think that explains the difference in color. The second two photos were from that previous visit. It was sunny that day and close to evening.

JoAnn Ryan – Orlando, FL

This deep orange variety of crossandra is called “Florida Sunset” or sometimes “Orange Marmalade.” The common names are usually so much better. The crossandra flower is native to India and Sri Lanka.

View original post 23 more words

Composting ”is” Recycling

Driving through the neighborhood I’ve been noticing so many big green trash bags of “leaves”🍁🍂 curbside for trash pick up. I often wonder why leaves get bagged up.

Leaves can be “recycled” and mulched with a mower which in turn adds moisture back into the soil.

If you are “new to Florida” in general, your lawn or gardens will be glad to utilize dead leaves!! If you are patient, those leaves pretty much disintegrate sitting in our toasting sun, and disappear.The same principle goes for tree branches.

What is “compost”?

As a verb, “to compost” or “composting” refers to the process used to make compost. In general, this process involves mixing together a variety of food wastes, yard wastes, and/or other compounds in proportions that are favorable for the growth and reproduction of bacteria. 

Compost is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, it refers to decayed organic matter, which is a fancy term for formerly living things (plant and/or animal) that have been broken down by the feeding of bacteria and other tiny creatures into something that looks more or less like soil. This organic matter (see soil for a discussion of organic matter) is a useful addition to soil, and compost is sometimes talked about as though it were a fertilizer. 

While it does contain nutrients plants need, compost is really more of a soil amendment, whose primary benefit to the soil is an increase in organic matter content rather than a significant increase in the levels of particular nutrients. 

As discussed under soil, higher organic matter yields a number of benefits – higher water retention of the soil, improved retention and availability to plants of any fertilizer that you do apply, increased numbers of soil-dwelling organisms, etc., etc. 

Within the compost “pile” made of these materials, bacteria begin to feed and multiply. These bacteria occur naturally on the surfaces of many living things and do not need to be added to the pile to make composting happen.

The bacteria eat and eat and reproduce and reproduce until most of the readily available nutrients are used up. This process, which can take as little as a few weeks or as long as months (depending on how much or little you manage the pile) usually results in a substantial decrease in volume of the ingredients used to make the initial compost pile. Loss of 40-60% of the volume of your initial pile is not uncommon. If you manage the pile at all well, the material you end up with should look (as mentioned above) and smell more or less like soil.

Why compost? 

There are many reasons. At the most abstract level, composting takes non-toxic materials that would otherwise end up in landfills and returns them to the soil in a useful form. 

Food production should be a closed loop, meaning that food wastes (and perhaps human manure, as well) are returned to the soils used to produce the food to begin with. At present, most food production in the United States represents open loops – food comes from places, and food wastes end up in other places. 

Composting is a small step toward closing food loops. Of more relevance to individual gardeners, compost itself improves garden soils in various ways (as discussed above). Well-managed “hot” composting can kill weeds and any seeds they might be carrying, so it’s a safe way to return the weeds you kill to your garden.

Scientists have also recently begun to document a phenomenon noticed for some time by organic farmers, which is that application of compost to soils can actually help to prevent various plant diseases, particularly fungal ones. Why and how this works is still not very well understood.

For those who like physical work and are seeking “useful” excuses to be outside, building and managing a compost pile can also be just plain fun. 


Some of us prefer “pseudo-composting,” which involves just heaping these materials up out of the way somewhere!

They will decay this way, but more slowly than if you compost them as described below. This form of composting does not necessarily kill weeds or weed seeds and the piles can in fact become homes for more weeds. 

Pseudocomposting with kitchen waste (eggshells, fruit peels, coffee grounds, etc.) can also attract raccoons, possums, and other undesirable pests. To help keep these pests away, you can cover your kitchen wastes with layers of newspaper, cardboard, or leaves.

To be continued….

Is it going to rain today?

“Real-time” quick forecast for your exact location!

  • Today and tomorrow may you bring rain. 💧💦
  • Today you can take advantage of transplanting without worrying about watering!! 💦

    Today I am planting seeds, that will be happy to get started with a little help from above! 💧👏🏻

    Realtime, up-to-date rain forecast for today and the next 5 days at your current location or anywhere else in the world.
    — Read on isitgoingtorain.com/

    Hummingbird Facts


    Hummingbirds are one of the most interesting birds! Here are some fun facts about these little birds:

    • Bee hummingbirds are the tiniest of all birds, weighing less than an ounce and measuring only 2 inches long.
    • Their brightly-colored, iridescent feathers and quick movements make them appear as living sun catchers—hence their nickname, flying jewels.
    • Hummingbirds have the unique ability to fly in any direction, even backward, with their wings beating up to a blurring 80 beats per second.
    • Plus, they can hover in midair when sipping nectar from brightly–colored flowers with their long, slender beaks.
    • While whizzing about the garden, hummingbirds expend so much energy that they must eat at least half their body weight each day to replace the calories that they burn up. This means eating almost constantly—from sunrise to sunset—and visiting over a thousand flowers every day.
    • You can hear the call of a ruby-throated hummingbird here.
    • Learn more about hummingbirds here.

    If you’re a fan of hummingbirds, you probably like to see other birds flying around your garden, too. Explore these tips for a bird-friendly garden.

    Do you have hummingbirds or other birds in your garden? Let us know in the comments below!

    What’s eating your plants?

    This creature has no business in the garden, yard or earth!!!

    Eastern Looper ☠️☠️☠️

    They devoured an entire blueberry bush overnight.

    Look closely at missing leaves on plants and see if these deadly bugs are present.

    I went out to the garden and saw little groups of black grasshoppers. I noticed at least 40 black and orange striped ones and others yellow stripe. The stripe is on the top backs. After looking more closely, I saw two larger grasshoppers solid black. I believe this is two stages of growth because next phase probably devours the plants.

    The “Eastern Lubber” is not beneficial to anything except mice. They have no other natural predators except rodents. We trapped 13 mice and now have the hoppers! Food chain disruption? Likely.

    I’ve heard the best option is drowning one by one in a bucket of soapy water.

    Things to know if you choose the pick and drown method is they stink 🙄.

    So there it goes, I invited my own problems! The Eastern Lubber is attracted to moisture AND you guessed it, the *Orange Amaryllis’. Don’t worry, when they run out of food and moisture they should leave.

    Read more about the destruction this pests has caused throughout Florida. Unfortunately pesticide is something we may have to use. Water level rise has pushed creatures out of habitats. I believe “Natural” FLORIDA is making a comeback!

    Read more at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/archive/hot_topics/agriculture/eastern_lubber_grasshopper.shtml

    Also be aware of winged moths looking insects-

    Leaf Hoppers

    Leaf hoppers are small, winged insects are one-fourth of an inch long and are green or brown in color. Some more distinctive specimens can be colored red and green. The adults cut tiny gashes into blueberry leaf stems and insert their eggs into the cuts. The insects are carriers of a blueberry disease known as blueberry stunt mycoplasma.

    Wildflower Butterfly Garden

    A quick walk through the garden this time of year, before Easter, is always a sign of hope and joy.

    A sign, “if you see it”, that better days are not just coming, they are here!

    Sunflower I consider wild since I didn’t plant it. 🌻

    “Bloom where you’re planted!”

    Cover plants help keep soil from drying out roots 🌱

    Cosmos love it here

    “Born to be wild”

    Blanket Flowers are beautiful

    Have a sun sun sunny day 🌼

    Biblical Herbs: Mints in the Bible

    by Herb Exchange

    Plants are first mentioned in the Bible in the first chapter of the first book: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind…” (Genesis 1:11). Throughout the ages, the Hebrews have attributed holiness to many species of plants. The Scriptures associate feasts, rites and commandments with many plants and their cultivation. Early written information about herbs is found in the Bible back to the time of Moses or even earlier. In Exodus 12:22 Moses tells the children of Israel how to save their children by using the herb and lamb’s blood. “And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.” In Numbers 19:6, 18 hyssop is again mentioned. Also, in 1 Kings 4:33 God gave Solomon wisdom, “And he (Solomon)spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall…” Psalms 51:7 refers to this plant: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” While pride is symbolized by the majestic cedar of Lebanon in Jewish tradition, the lowly hyssop represents modesty and humility. At least eighteen plants have been considered for the hyssop of the Bible, but modern botanists have generally agreed that Syrian majoram (Origanum syriacum) is the likely plant. It seems to fit well with these verses. It was used to cleanse homes defiled by leprosy or death and came to symbolize cleanliness. Its fragrance and taste led it to be prized by the ancient Romans and the Greeks before them. Bridges and grooms wore crowns made of marjoram. It was also quite likely prized in the kitchen, as it is now.

    Herbs of the Bible

    In the New Testament a sponge soaked in sour wine or vinegar was stuck on a branch of hyssop and offered to Jesus of Nazareth on the cross (John 19:29). Hyssop-Oregano was often gathered in bunches and used as a brush or sprinkler for Jewish purification rituals.

    Hyssop, Bible Psalms 51:7

    Mint (Mentha longifolia) or horsemint is thought by many Jewish scholars to be the mint referenced by Jesus in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 in His discourse with the Pharisees. It along with anise or dill and cumin grow wild in parts of Palestine, mint being the most common. The Pharisee taxed himself lightly if he paid the tithe of mint, for it was too common and too easily cultivated to be of much worth, even though it was valuable as a medicinal herb. It was one of the plants subjected to the ban on sowing and gathering every seventh year. Jesus’ lesson on hyprocrisy is told by Matthew and again by Luke, and mint is the one herb mentioned by both. The Greek word Heduosmos, or mintha, means “having a sweet smell” and refers to “a sweet-smelling herb or mint.” The plant derives its name from Mintha, a Greek nymph who was transformed into the herb by Persephone after Persephone learned that her husband, Pluto had loved the nymph. Several varieties of mint grew in Israel, but horsemint is the most common and probably the one referred to by Matthew and Luke. Horsemint is still found today in the Holy Land and is cultivated at Aleppo in Syria. It is much larger than the other mints, reaching a height of three feet or more, with lilac flowers. It grows in moist, sunny places where it tends to run wild. It has been confused with Mentha spicata, or spearmint. The Hebrews used mint as a strewing herb at home and in the Temple, prizing its clean and aromatic scent. They served mint at the Spring Passover Feast of the Paschal Lamb, and today it is one of the “bitter herbs” of the paschal feast.

    Bible Herbs: Genesis 1:11

    In Israel the branched inflorescence of the Salvia dominica is one of the several salvias thought to have inspired the design of the menorah, seven-branched candelabra, or lampstand. Other scholars believe Judean sage (Salvia judaica) may have been in view. Judaica is from the Hebrew Yehudah, or Judah, the name given to the mountainous southern part of the land of Israel. The Bible describes God’s instructions to Bezalel of the tribe of Judah, one of Moses’ Israelites, to make an ark, altar and table of acacia wood: And he made the lampstand of pure gold; of hammered work he made the lampstand. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and its flowers were of the same piece…” (Exodus 37:17). Sage had already proven its value as both a flavoring and a medicine, so it is hardly surprising that it appeared in religious symbolism.

    (This article was submitted by Randy, and taken from Randy’s book  “Stop…and Smell The Mints”)  For more information go to https://outskirtspress.com/stopandsmellthemints

    Down the Garden Path Radio

    Easy Care Perennials Podcast
    “Listen and surf the web at the same time!”


    Bottle Gardening

    You don’t always need the dirt! Aquaponics intro on a small scale!

    I love this idea and it’s been working out well for my personal experiment.

    Cut bottle carefully at top. Turn upside down

    Water bottles, soda bottles – cut and inverted!

    At the moment I am using spring water in small water bottles. It has rained and I’m hoping this added some nitrogen to the water.

    Mostly I wanted to try this method with lettuce. The thought of having fresh lettuce available whenever I wanted a salad, was intriguing.


    I’ve added some spearmint and oregano stems to other bottles.

    The spearmint is kept in a hanging pot so I can move away from sun as the sun shifts.

    Before my favorite shade tree got its leaves back, the mint got hit with a day of sunshine. I am trying to save it so I took some stems to see if it will root. I’m not exactly confident this approach will work. Soil in the bottles might be best. So far, the mint didn’t die or dry in the water.

    Herbs are more shade loving plants throughout the summer. Oregano, basil and rosemary are my “must have” herbs. I can’t remember when a time when I didn’t have these herbs outdoors.

    Italian cooking demands fresh ingredients just like the Great Nona’s know best! Oregano grows without much help, other than breaking off a fist full for sauce, which actually prunes it too!!


    Rosemary. Ah Rosemary. The most aromatic herb my life and patio just can’t live without. Roast pork anyone? I can smell it roasting for hours in my dreams!!! Brush up against it and the scent fills the air. Place it where animals may also brush by it. Bugs, like fleas, hate rosemary!

    Give this easy grower plenty of room. It demands attention and it’s own space to branch out like a tree if you let it.

    I would not say Rosemary is a fast grower so start small and repot as needed. I give it 3 times more space in a pot because it will fill in eventually.

    It’s that time of year when the ground is warming. Dogs and cats start scratching after they’ve gone outdoors? Besides fleas, Florida has chigger type nuisance bugs you can’t see.

    Break off a long twig of rosemary and secure it to the inside of your pets collar! Take the sprigs and rub the plant all over your pet. This is a natural way to relieve itching temporarily. Also works with lavender. In the summertime, I make my own itch relieving spray!!

    Put water in a spray bottle along with sprigs of lavender and rosemary. Put in fridge and use to soothe!

    Do you have your own herbal remedies?

    Stayed tuned for additions to this thread!

    “Basil” a religious tradition

    Religious Legends

    Basil is a part of religious traditions around the world, from Christianity to Hindu.Although there is no mention of basil in the Bible.

    The plant is said to have grown at the site of Christ’s crucifixion and is associated with St. Basil. St. Basil – feast day is celebrated in Greece on January 1 by having basil blessed at church

    Holy basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum, is particularly sacred in Hindu tradition. It is thought to be the manifestation of the goddess, Tulasi, and to have grown from her ashes.
    There are several versions of the legend, but according to a widely known one, Tulasi was tricked into betraying her husband when she was seduced by the god Vishnu in the guise of her husband.

    In her torment, Tulasi killed herself, and Vishnu declared that she would be “worshipped by women for her faithfulness” and would keep women from becoming widows.

    Thus, holy basil, which also goes by the common name tulsi, an obvious reference to the goddess, became a Hindu symbol of love, eternal life, purification and protection. In addition to basil’s role in the death of Tulasi in the Hindu legend, basil has played a role in burial rituals and has been grown on graves in various countries.

    Basil’s love symbolism isn’t limited to India.
    It has been considered an aphrodisiac by some, is associated with the pagan love goddess, Erzuli, and is used in love spells.

    In Italy, where sweet basil is called “kiss me Nicholas,” “bacianicola,” it is thought to attract husbands to wives, and a pot of basil on a windowsill is meant to signal a lover.

    In Moldavian folklore, if a man accepts a sprig of basil from a woman, he will fall in love with her.

    As is typical for its folklore, while being linked to love and attraction, basil has also conversely been associated with chastity.

    In Sicilian folklore, basil is associated with both love and death when basil sprouts from the head of isabetta of Messina’s slain lover.

    Protection and Luck

    Basil is considered a good luck charm in some folklore. It is reportedly used in exorcisms, for protection and to attract wealth.

    Language of Flowers

    Basil’s symbolism in the Victorian language of flowers also reflects its dual nature. It signifies both hatred (for common basil) and best wishes (for sweet basil).

    Join us – at Deltona Garden Club

    S.E.E.K for High School Students in Deltona!

    This is a wonderful program sponsored by Deltona’s Garden Club and Florida Federation of Garden Clubs

    High School Students grades 10-12

    “Saving the Earths Environment through Knowledge.”

    Joining Deltona’s Garden Club means much more than planting a few trees or plants!

    We have scholarships, education, help and resources to establish gardens in our schools and city.

    Membership sign up online. Please share with students of Volusia County so we can assign a sponsor for your school.

    High School students 9-12 – horticulture scholarships program.

    Youth Gardening is k- 8th grade.

    Contact us with any questions by following this link

    Join us –

    DeltonaGardenClub.com 🌸

    Butterfly Bush Care – How To Care For A Butterfly Bush

    Butterfly bushes are grown for their long panicles of colorful flowers and their ability to attract butterflies and beneficial insects. Read this article to learn how to care for a butterfly bush of your own.
    — Read on www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/butterfly-bush/butterfly-bush-care.htm

    One of my favorite garden guests is the butterfly. Read this article to take a look at plants that attract butterflies so that you can welcome these flying beauties into your garden too.
    — Read on www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/beneficial/butterfly-garden-plants.htm