I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
John Burroughs

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Monarch saga, and the Bad and the Beautiful....

The Monarch chrysalis I found hanging on the old apple tree.

The chrysalis darkened, and one could see the colours of the butterfly, shortly before it emerged.
The butterfly emerged, all crumpled, but slowly the wings expanded and smoothed out.
He hung out by his empty chrysalis, for some time, looking like a hanging leaf swaying in the breeze. No wonder they are hard to spot! 

He took to the air, circled the apple tree, then landed up in it, opening and closing his wings for a while, then sailed off over the milkweed patch. See the dark spots on the hind wings? That is a male. The female doesn't have the spots and has thicker wing veins.

Previously I've mentioned that we are having an influx of Lymantria dispar dispar, previously known as Gypsy Moth. This is a picture of a female with a large egg mass beneath her. 

This is a shot up into the old apple tree, and there are many moths and zillions of eggs. Next summer will be brutal, as the caterpillars will eat every green leaf, unless we get a long stretch of really cold weather to kill the eggs this winter.

Recently we spotted this pretty guy  on the side of a building. It is a Garden Tiger Moth. We have more often seen the furry caterpillars of this moth,  Woolly Bears.


Saturday, July 17, 2021

A mid-July garden wander....

The asparagus patch has been a work in progress, as the plants were started from seed, so needed very little room at the beginning. As they grew, I've spaced them out, but used the excess room for other crops. Two years ago, I grew potatoes in beside the baby ferns, and am still pulling up the odd shoot from the “volunteer” plants that got missed when they were dug! I'll just keep doing that, as I don't want to disturb the asparagus roots now that the plants will be big enough to harvest next spring. Eventually, the spuds should just give up!

There was some room across the front of the asparagus patch, so I put in a row of sweet peas with a hardware cloth fence to support them. They are just starting to bloom now. (That is an Horseradish leaf creeping into the bottom right side.)
Sweet pea, one of my favourite scents. Next year the asparagus will have the whole bed to themselves.

This tomato plant is called 'Chocolate Sprinkles', and it is putting out pretty little sprays of dark green fruit. I'm looking forward to them ripening!

Tomatoes and carrots go together, so, tomatoes each end, and carrots in the middle. The carrots have been thinned, so now they can grow big...if they get the chance! They are perfect little munch-able orange cylinders  now!

This is the cole crop bed, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, (a couple of spare tomato plants in the end, because, can you ever have too many tomatoes?). The dill is in the middle to discourage the white cabbage moths, and spaced away from the dill, at this end, is the second planting of carrots under the hardware cloth, to protect the seedlings from whoever had a dig in it one night. Thankfully, not too much damage was done. The carrots are tiny ferns coming up now, and will be for winter storage. (That is a dill plant draped across the carrot bed. I've been thinning the dill rows and putting the plants here and there on the bed. There seem to be more white moths around this year than last.)

Bean blooms!...so beautiful. Soon we'll be swamped in beans....I hope. 

This is the cucumber pallet ramp, to keep the fruit off the ground and give the plants good air flow. At the rate they have been growing, they will soon cover the pallets and flow over the edge! There are blooms and tiny cucs in there! With all the rain we have been having, I'm watching for mildew. Those big leaves in the foreground are 'Little Gem', a red Kuri winter squash.

 The second lettuce bed, which has been grown under shade cloth from its onset. There are a couple of borage plants to the right, and a couple of remaining Pak Choi plants on the left. 

This is just a sampling, as I am trying to be mindful of our data limitations! Clicking on the pictures will make them bigger.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Preparing the ark!!!

Rain started falling around 4 PM yesterday, and continued heavily for about two hours. Overnight, the Thunderbirds woke us up, and again the rain poured down. This morning there is a good 3 inches in the gauge, an ankle deep puddle in front of the solar panels, and it is very squishy, rubber boot walking, elsewhere along some trails. It has been less than a week since the last deluge of 1 ½ inches. The bird chorus is in full swing this morning, and the sun is striking sparkling prisms off of all the raindrops that are still on leaves. There are mud splatters on all the garden plants that are not mulched.

I did a meander down along a trail that is the home of the biggest thimble berries (blackberries), and they are progressing nicely. We are in hopes that there will be a blueberry crop this year as well.

This summer, we are having a Lymantria dispar moth caterpillar invasion in eastern Ontario. (Previously called Gypsy Moths) They are just becoming noticeable this year in our area, although other more southerly regions are much more affected. The worms have been munching on some of our trees, oaks, poplars, and the old gnarly apple tree by the propane tank was stripped bare. It doesn't have too many branches, as we'd pruned all the dead stuff out a few years ago, but, the old tree is re-leafing out! We thought this might be the end of it, as branches keep dying off. Its fruit is not great, but I love the gnarly shape of the old tree. I was over squishing the moth cocoons on the tree, and look what I found!

This monarch worm had to travel at least 31.5 feet from the nearest milkweed plant, across mown grass, and then climbed 4.5 feet up the tree! I'll be watching to see the Monarch emerge.

The rain last night was so intense, it pushed some of the climbing beans off of their fence. My herb bed is filling in,

and this morning, the first gloriously coloured Calendulas are opening up

and my Shasta daisy clump is starting to bloom.


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Sunshine! .... and critters

Finally!! The sun is shining today!

It has been a cool, wet week, with depressingly grey skies. We have had more than 2 1/2 inches of rain over the week, some of it falling in intense showers. This morning there is a heavy dew, and we are waiting for things to dry up so we can get out cutting grass, as we are living in the middle of a hay field!

The garden is growing by leaps and bounds, but we really need some sun and warmth now. Some of my bush beans are showing some rusty leaves from all the moisture.

Recently, on the trail cameras, we've seen a doe who looked pretty skinny, so we were not surprised when finally she has started bringing her fawn around with her. Meet the new member of 'our herd'.

Another denizen of the bush came rumbling through past a trail camera, and gamboling behind her was, what we think is probably her yearling. Thankfully she only gave the camera a passing glance. Bears are notorious for destroying cameras, and we've recently had one torn off a tree, and a big tooth puncture decimated the inner workings.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Green and growing things.....

After some amazing amounts of rain over the last week, 3¼ inches over Friday and Saturday of last weekend, over an inch on June 29, and almost an inch on July 1.... plus warm temperatures and sunshine in between the rains....things are taking off. Shade or no shade, the spinach plants started showing a rosette of buds in their centers, so they have been pulled and consumed. The lettuce ballooned but I have another crop coming along under shade. It seems to be 'feast or famine' when it comes to leafy greens!

It is a beautiful sunny day today, but the heat from the west is coming our way, and tomorrow is supposed to be very hot and humid. I expect to see another big growth spurt, as the soil is deeply moist.

I'm looking forward to these guys ripening. It is a beefsteak variety called Ultra Sweet, and is the first tomato plant showing sizeable fruit.

Here is a drone shot of the garden area. Our son is up for a visit with a new toy. The beds look so small, but they are each, 64 square feet of growing space, except one which is 48 square feet. The field garden is 13' X 35'.

The mint has sure taken off in the barrel, but the oregano seed didn't come up, so I purchased 4 plants to fill it in. There is some cilantro, chamomile and summer savory here, as well as basil, parsley, a couple of sage plants and rosemary. The calendula are getting big, and hope to see some buds soon. There are tomato plants in the end.

This end of the field garden has a double row of potatoes across above the newly dug area. They are starting to bloom. Cucumbers, squash and a couple of pumpkin hills are up the left side. As the vines start to travel, I guide them with strategically placed stakes, so they travel out over the grass, so I can continue to access the other plants in the garden. Later planted spuds are across the top, and are doing well. Up at that end are two zucchini plants and a couple of tomato plants that wouldn't fit in the raised beds. That is garlic down the right side. Some stems are an inch or more in diameter at their bases, so I'm really wondering how big the bulb is 6 inches down! Down the middle is a double row of gladiola, because, what is a northern garden without glads???

Expecting dry summer weather, I planted all the crops in the field garden in hills, with an indentation in the middle to hold water. Mother Nature has looked after that very well, so far. The second planting of beans was put in a few days ago, and a second planting of carrots went in yesterday, so, all the spots are filled.