Special Garden Visitor

Giant Swallowtail.jpgWe had this lovely Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes) in the garden sipping nectar from the zinnias.

You can’t miss this one when it flutters by as the wingspan ranges from four to six and a half inches.

 

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Children’s Sunflower Hour Program Had a Successful First Season

onion harvestEvery Saturday since June, children have been attending a reading and garden/craft program in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens we called the Sunflower Hour. Today was the last session of the season.

It has been wonderful with dozens of children coming over the summer to hear stories told by Faye Mihuta, a retired teacher, and experience life in the garden. Children sat in the sunflower house, which is just now beginning bloom and listened to books being read.

Over the last eight weeks the crafts they made with artist Jess Clauser included a fluttering butterfly, bee bracelets, and cards made with vegetable stamps. Other weeks, the children learned about sowing flower seeds, how vegetables grow, the importance of honeybees and the butterfly habitat we have to support Monarch butterflies. Jay Epstein came one Saturday to talk about worms and the children made worm farms from recycled bottles to take home.cly2

Today,  the project was to make a clay medallion by pressing the leaf of the herb sage into wet clay. The clay was trimmed with a round cookie cutter and set out to dry.  Once dry, they can be painted. Each one was very pretty and the children were please to take home several each.

onionfayeNext, we harvested onions. Each child had a chance to pull the onions from the ground and take one home.

Afterwards, we all tasted zucchini bread and basil lemonade. Both were delicious.

It was a great morning in the garden.

Special thank you to Faye and Jess for all the effort put into making Sunflower Hour a memorable experience for young community members.  You are deeply appreciated.

Natalie

 

A Very Special Gift

caterpillar

This tiny Monarch caterpillar is now in the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens, a gift from Dawn, the owner of Wildthings Rescue Nursery. Dawn is one of the vendors at the Saratoga Farmers Market and gave us this little treasure for our butterfly garden.

We carefully tucked it into its new home on a milkweed plant in the butterfly garden and protected it from predators with a special butterfly netting donated by gardener, Kay S.  In the next two weeks, we will watch it grow and become a chrysalis and after that a magnificent Monarch.

Thank you all.  BTW – Dawn’s Nursery specializes in native plants. You can check it out here: http://www.dawnswildthings.com

Natalie

Waldorf Students Illustrate Monarch Butterfly Signs for Pitney Meadows

waldorfsigninstallStudents from the Waldorf School in Saratoga Springs illustrated signs for the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens Monarch Waystation.

The five signs each depict an interesting fact about the butterflies that migrate thousands of miles and who have been in decline due to destruction of their habitat and the use of pesticides.

Pictured here are Michael Whitney, the practical arts teacher who built the cedar sign posts, and Elizabeth Straton, Community Relations.

The sign next to them shows the difference between a male and female butterfly. You didn’t know there was a way to tell a boy from a girl?

Come to the gardens, read the signs and maybe see some butterflies.  The butterfly bed surrounding them contains plants that support the butterfly from egg to caterpillar to adult with an abundant supply of nectar rich flowers that bloom through the season. The garden also contains milkweed, the only plant the monarch caterpillar eats.

Thank you to the students who drew the illustrations. They are beautiful.

Natalie Walsh, Garden Director

 

 

 

Buckwheat Planted To Improve Soil

Screen Shot 2018-06-11 at 3.39.57 PMBill Pitney and I planted buckwheat on the east side of the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens today.

The organic seed was purchased from Johnny’s Seeds and chosen because buckwheat is a quick summer green manure, meaning it improves the soil.

Here’s what it says on Johnny’s website: “Buckwheat is widely grown as a grain crop, bee pasture, soil improving cover crop and as wildlife cover. It is a warm season grain which grows rapidly during the summer and several crops per year may be had with proper management. This rapid and dense growth chokes out weeds and is used in crop-free fields in rotation with vegetables.

“Buckwheat is often grown to attract beneficial insects and as pasture for honey bees. Sow in late May through July and till in about a month later, when flowering has begun. For grain harvest, sow 3 months before fall frost. Harvest after killing frost. Planting rate: 2-3 lb./1,000 sq.ft. (60 lb./acre), one-fifth less when planting for grain harvest. Blue label/Certified seed. Organically grown. Avg. 14,800 seeds/lb.”

We should see germination in less than a week and flowers in 25 days.

The area planted is where next year’s raised beds and plots will be.  Using a cover crop not only helps the soil, but the bees will love it too.

Speaking of the bees, they are frequent visitors to our fountain in the butterfly garden.

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.