Tag Archives: milkweed

Monarch butterfly

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Photo credit: Rick L. Hansen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wikimedia

Monarch butterflies have been in decline for years. As a result, backyard gardeners, butterfly lovers and environmentalists have been encouraging homeowners (and renters) to provide plants for Monarchs. I found the following graphic on Facebook and thought I would share it here:

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  1. Plant milkweed. It is important to locate seeds and plants that are native to your area. Very, very important.
  2. Encourage your locals schools and businesses to allow a Monarch-friendly patch of milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants to thrive. Important: do not mow down plants until and unless they have gone to seed or died back naturally.
  3. No pesticides: my property is a pesticide-free zone. During the warm months, there are hundreds of insect species that stop by or live here including butterflies, bees, wasps (not all are bad), dragonflies, flies, and more.
  4. Share this information with others. If I had my way, pesticides would be banned from use by the general public and government entities.

More information: Journey North Monarch Butterfly project.

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The 5th of July in Connecticut after Hurricane Arthur

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Head’s up: There is a video treat at the end of this post thanks to one of my sons.

Lemon squash (center) with French radishes growing on either side

Lemon squash (center) with French radishes growing on either side


It poured all day yesterday. My 18-year-old son learned the term, “gully washer” from me. By the time Hurricane Arthur hit Connecticut is was a tropical storm.

I am not complaining. I didn’t have plans (except to watch a movie, which I didn’t watch). I didn’t lose power, though I learned that many residents in my small town did. We didn’t lose any trees or power lines. I was primarily oblivious to the storm as I just stayed on the computer watching Netflix and fiddling around. I did spend most of the morning reading and researching Lyme disease and some current events (such as the Hobby Lobby decision and the child immigrant crisis in Texas). It was a good day for such things.

Sadly, Hurricane Arthur was not so nice to those in North Carolina and other states as it made landfall and headed north.

But this morning, the sun is shining bright. I expected to step outside on the deck and be assaulted by hot, humid air as has been the case the last week.

Brown-eyed Susan, Evening Primrose and Bee Balm

Brown-eyed Susan, Evening Primrose and Bee Balm


Oh no, today is one of the days that we all live for here in New England: crisp, warm but not the least hint of hot, low humidity, the wind is blowing, the birds are celebrating their independence, and the butterflies have arrived.

There is no way to be grumpy on a day like today.

Mug of coffee in hand, I meandered through my garden spaces looking for newly emerging seedlings. A few spinach seeds are popping up, but the rest are waiting for a few hours of intense sunlight to signal that it is safe to emerge. Blueberries are turning red — time for the nets. Promises of wild and cultivated blueberries in muffins, yogurt, ice cream and, if there are enough, maybe syrups and preserves.

Amish deer tongue heirloom Romaine lettuce

Amish deer tongue heirloom Romaine lettuce


While most parts of the country usher in summer in June, I think Connecticut should consider the 4th of July, or in this case, the 5th of July, as the true beginning of summer. I still marvel that the summers don’t get warmer as they move through July and August; the temperatures become cooler. We can get a heat wave or two during those months, but the days are getting shorter, and we are moving toward fall with every day that passes.

Moskovich heirloom tomato plant

Moskovich heirloom tomato plant

And for your viewing pleasure, my 21-year-old son went out and recorded butterflies enjoying the milkweed patch. Enjoy!

Common milkweed attracting butterflies and other insects

Common milkweed attracting butterflies and other insects

New England Garden Journal – June 2014 – Part 2

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Broccoli volunteer that is already blooming. I will save the seeds since this is an open pollinated, heirloom variety.

Broccoli volunteer that is already blooming. I will save the seeds since this is an open pollinated, heirloom variety.

It has been raining off and on for days upon days. I have taken advantage of this break from the garden while it does its thing without much help from me to work on homework for my summer class, complete a grant application, and deal with my kids’ end-of-the-year events and a high school graduation.

It has been moderately cool to slightly uncomfortable, very humid, and moist. Connecticut has exploded in green, looking almost like a rainforest in places as wild-growing plants overflow into the roads in many places. The trees are heavy at the tops, blocking much of the sun. I am trying to figure out how we can thin canopies in the trees bordering my yard to let in more sun on my garden spaces.

Tomato and peppers have not germinated. I think I will go ahead and start some indoors even at this late date, and I plan to head to my favorite heirloom seed store in Wethersfield to see what they have in heirloom tomato and pepper plants. I also want to buy thyme and sage plants since my seeds are very slow to germinate. Looks like I will have a lot of corn, beans, cucumbers, radishes, bok choy, snow peas, garlic and red onions so far this year. Oh, and the lemon squash plants are forming true leaves right now, albeit slowly. I am thinking that as soon as we have some warm, sunny days, the garden will explode.

Here are some photos of growth over the past week. Most of the photos I took this morning were blurry — two mugs of coffee and no food makes for a shaky photographer, so these are the ones that are the sharpest. I hope to head out with my tripod later today.

Slugs are eating my spinach and lettuce seedlings, but here is one that has survived.

Slugs are eating my spinach and lettuce seedlings, but here is one that has survived.

French radishes - the stems are already red

French radishes – the stems are already red

Sweet corn growing well -- some has not come up, so I will resow empty spaces

Sweet corn growing well — some has not come up, so I will resow empty spaces

Snow peas at top and garlic 3-4 inches high already

Snow peas at top and garlic 3-4 inches high already

More snow peas (need thinning) and red onions

More snow peas (need thinning) and red onions

Even more snow peas and buckwheat with the white flowers

More snow peas and buckwheat with the white flowers

Common milkweed 3.5 to 4 feet tall already with flower heads forming. These small flower heads are edible, but my milkweed patch is for pollinators only.

Common milkweed 3.5 to 4 feet tall already with flower heads forming. These small flower heads are edible, but my milkweed patch is for pollinators only.

Common milkweed flower head

Common milkweed flower head

Connecticut Garden – July Update Part 1

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Meadow frittilary on common milkweed

Meadow frittilary on common milkweed


We have had two full weeks of warm weather with temps going no lower than mid-60’s at night. With amazing growth in the garden has brought bugs, pests, mosquitoes, squash bugs, leaf beetles, a variety of moth larvae. It takes a lot of time checking every plant, beneath every leaf, picking off slugs, beetles, creepy crawlies that want to eat my plants. I am so glad that I’m not squeamish. I can squish a caterpillar with my bare hands. Muahaha . . .

But that isn’t all that’s going on in the garden. No, there are also the deer. I headed out to the garden a few days ago and discovered that one or more deer had pruned 11 of 12 tomato plants in my front garden. My single stem indeterminate tomato plants are now bush varieties. I will consider it a forced experiment in topping indeterminate tomato plants to see if they do well as bushier plants. Why not? When life gives you lemons it is definitely time to make lemonade.

The next day I forced the boys outside in the rain with me at dusk fighting off swarms of mosquitoes to put up the cattle panels that I use for fencing. They worked last year so I am hoping they work again. Typically, a fence of 8 feet is required to keep deer out of the garden. I want to buy some aluminum pie plates to hang along the fence to aid in deterring critters from visiting my garden.

Okay, enough of the challenges. Here is what has happened in the past week.

Backyard garden protected by cattle panels

Backyard garden protected by cattle panels

Most exciting is the cucumber growth since covering the ground around the bean teepee with fresh compost

Most exciting is the cucumber growth since covering the ground around the bean teepee with fresh compost

Moskovich tomato

Moskovich tomato

San Marzano plum tomatoes

San Marzano plum tomatoes

From left: parsley, basil, ground cherry (front), Yellow bell peppers (center), eggplant (back)

From left: parsley, basil, ground cherry (front), Yellow bell peppers (center), eggplant (back)

Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry

Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherry

Red cabbage looking prettier than a rose

Red cabbage looking prettier than a rose

My first and only head of broccoli so far

My first and only head of broccoli so far

Deer-pruned tomato plants bushing out nicely

Deer-pruned tomato plants bushing out nicely

Pickling cucumber plants in the front garden being trained up the tomato trellis

Pickling cucumber plants in the front garden being trained up the tomato trellis

Strawberry popcorn bordered by black beans which have just started to bloom

Strawberry popcorn bordered by black beans which have just started to bloom

Dwarf bok choy seed pods

Dwarf bok choy seed pods

Northern brown snake is welcome in my garden

Northern brown snake is welcome in my garden