Close up of Chrysalis, waiting for Spring

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Thanks Jess, for sending this photo.

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From Caterpillars to Chrysalises

They grow up so fast!

Our three little caterpillars became chrysalises yesterday.

Jess C. reported that they started to spin silk and in a short amount of time attached themselves to the net sides of the butterfly habitat where they will remain until Spring.

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If you look closely you can see the silk the caterpillars use to attach themselves.

They are in safe, competent hands and are another thing to look forward to next season.

Just as our gardens are tucked in for winter, so now are our butterflies.

Thanks, Jess and Charlotte, our butterfly caretakers.

Can Butterfly Caterpillars Survive this Late in the Season?

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 2.13.28 PM.pngOne of our gardeners found several caterpillars in the parsley patch.

She has taken them home to watch them them transform from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.

We don’t know if the butterflies will be able to fly south at that point.

Has anyone raised butterflies before to know the timing of things?

How long do they remain a chrysalis for example?

Any suggestions?

 

What’s the Buzz?

Why it’s the bees of course.

Take a look at the bees and butterflies enjoying our pollinator plants.  Next year, we will create four pollinator beds filled with plants the bees, butterflies and birds find appealing.

If you want to be part of the buzz, let me know. We will need help planning, purchasing and planting seeds and transplants that have been donated.  If you have plants that are suitable for this endeavor, let me know.

We have two holding beds in the gardens with perennials that will be planted for the pollinators next Spring. But, we could use liatris, butterfly weed and echinacea to name a few.  Can you help?

 

Look Who’s in the Garden!

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 9.34.32 AM I found five black swallowtail caterpillars feasting on parsley in one of the raised beds early this morning.

It’s not surprising that we have black swallowtail butterflies as they are found in open areas and lay eggs singly on the new foliage of host plants, of which parsley is one.

I’m hoping we can find the chrysalis in the next  few weeks and follow it’s development into a butterfly.

Let me know if you see it, won’t you?

 

 

 

Welcoming Butterflies

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Kay S. took this image of a monarch caterpillar on a milkweed plant in her raised bed.

Monarchs have been on the decline due to extreme weather conditions that devastated monarch populations, loss of habitat and use of herbicides. Planting milkweed helps support these fluttering beauties as they need milkweed to survive. Their caterpillars, like the one pictured, only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.). Monarch butterflies seek out milkweed plants to lay their eggs.

In the gardens this July, I spotted about a handful of Monarchs in total. Next year, why don’t we plant a bed of milkweed to support monarch populations and their migration? What do you think?

School Gardening in the Northeast

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Puzzler: How to create a school garden that produces vegetables, flowers and fruits before the end of June and after Labor Day in the Northeast?

The weeks in the middle are actually our prime time for gardening here in upstate New York but this is also when schools are closed. This can present a challenge for schools that want to have a garden.

Here’s a possible plan I put together for a garden club meeting this morning at a local elementary school. Turns out, this garden has found creative ways to deal with some of the challenges other school gardens experience.

School Garden Plan

The following planting plan includes plants that perform while school is in session.

In late May, plant rows of sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, bachelor buttons, Jerusalem artichokes and marigolds. These plants will still be blooming in September and attract beneficial insects and butterflies.

The Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) have edible underground tubers that can be eaten raw or cooked and have yellow flowers attract beneficial insects.

If soil is moist, plant swamp milkweed for the monarch butterflies. Also include larvae plants such as dill to create a habitat. When possible, plant the pollinator garden where it can be viewed from classrooms or hallway windows. Add birdhouses for even more enjoyment and learning opportunities.

In an area designated for perennials, plant rhubarb. And, if there is someone to diligently weed the first year, plant an asparagus bed. This will be harvested before school ends.

When school is back in session in September plant garlic, which should be ready to harvest the end of  June. A school garlic sale could be a great fundraiser for the garden program.

Also, plant lettuces, mache, sorrel and spinach which will be “salad” ready to harvest in six weeks. Walking onions are another possibility.

Plant Pansies. They are an edible flower that you can add to the salad. And pansies bloom until hard frost.

In October, plant spring bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and scilla. These are in their glory before the school year ends.

If there’s room, an apple tree orchard using dwarf trees would be an asset. This would bloom in the spring and fruit in the fall. Perfect timing for a school garden.

sow seed twoSchool Garden Club 

Today, I was invited to visit the Division Street elementary school garden club in Saratoga Springs. They are ahead of the game. They have an established garden and have some summer help keeping the garden growing.

The school district also has a grounds supervisor committed to creating school gardens and educating the next generation about what it takes to grow healthy food.

Today a group of young gardeners planted kale and beans in seed trays. Kevin Templin, grounds supervisor for the Saratoga Springs school district, talked about the plants and showed the club members how to sow the seeds.

It’s an impressive group. One seven-year-old was able to explain cross pollination. Several others were experienced gardeners having grown vegetables and fruits with their families.

Along with a high level of enthusiasm, this south facing school garden has two other advantages. First, it is well situated. It has a courtyard feel with brick walls on three sides. This will help to extend the garden season and protect the garden from animals and strong winds.

The gardeners already have garlic growing in the ground. They also plan much more,  including a pollinator garden that draws butterflies and beneficial insects.

And they have volunteers willing to tend the garden during the summer months when school is not in session. In addition to staff support, families of the garden club members are asked to adopt the garden for one week during the summer. Sharing the responsibility in this way has worked well for them.

If you have other ideas on how to create and maintain a school garden, please share them.

Your experiences are valuable as we all work to teach the next generation about growing food and cultivating a healthy lifestyle.

Thank you to the young gardeners and their leaders for welcoming me today.