Caterpillar Inspired?

Screen Shot 2018-09-16 at 6.38.31 AMI have a theory.

A Monarch caterpillar climbed up the cosmos and spotted the drawing of a chrysalis on the sign made by the students at the Waldorf School for the butterfly garden at Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.

Inspired, he thought, “I can do that.” And transformed from caterpillar to pupa right next to the sign. What do you think?

This is our fourth Monarch chrysalis in the garden’s certified Monarch way station which is brimming with flowers planted to support the lifecycle of the Monarch butterfly.

Our Second Butterfly Emerges!

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I’m happy to announce the birth of our second Monarch butterfly this morning. She emerged just before the rains began.

She is beautiful and immediately made herself at home on this red zinnia.

The Pitney Meadows Community Gardens became a certified Monarch way station last winter and as such provides the plants these butterflies need throughout their lifecycle.  Next year, we can start a tagging program that would let us track where our butterflies travel as they make their way to Mexico.  If you are interested in this project, let me know.

Thank you to Judy B. for caring for these little lovelies.

Our First Monarch Emerged

Screen Shot 2018-09-07 at 1.39.24 PMWe were lucky enough to spot two Monarch butterfly caterpillars in our butterfly garden last month.

There may have been more, but we knew of two.

We nurtured them along. kept them safe and once they formed chrysalises we moved them into a netted butterfly house to watch them mature.

Yesterday, one emerged as the gorgeous butterfly you see here.  The other should follow any day now.

As many of you know, the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens became a certified Monarch Waystation last winter.  This means we provide the plants and habitat Monarch butterflies need to complete their lifecycle from egg to butterfly.

Looks like we did well.

Thank you to Judy. our butterfly foster mother who cared for them.

Navy Helps with Event Preparations

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 11.58.50 AMThe Navy is good to us and willing to help in so many ways.

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 11.52.06 AMToday, volunteers painted Bill’s Barn and worked on some of the colorful face boards that will be displayed September 22 at the Fairy Gathering.

They also harvested vegetables and started scraping the horse barn.

A lot was going on. And that was all before noon!

Thank you all. We couldn’t do it without you.

 

Picture Perfect Sunday in the Gardens

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The day was dawning, the air was calm with a bit of a chill foreshadowing what is to come as we approach September.

As the sun rose, the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens were a peaceful sanctuary abundant with vegetables and rows upon rows of blooming sunflowers.

I watered the spinach seeds planted yesterday for a fall harvest, tidied up the pathways and looked over the crops being grown in every plot. There is so much variety including kale, lettuce, corn, tomatoes, watermelons, zinnias and herbs.  The gardens look amazing, the harvest has been wonderful, and the butterflies breathtaking.

Thank you great gardeners who grow here for your helpfulness and your attention to your plots.

I am grateful, Natalie

Pretty Milkweed Caterpillar

This is a photo of a milkweed tussock moth.

It looks like tufting from an oriental rug.

This is this caterpillar’s pretty stage. When it matures, it is a brown gray tiger moth. Dull and uninteresting.

What is interesting about this hairy caterpillar is that, like a Monarch, it feeds on milkweed. And the cardiac glycosides in the milkweed make it an unappealing meal to its primary predator, the bat.

But the really curious part is the milkweed tiger moth emits an ultrasonic signal that is readily picked up by bats. The bats have learned to associate that sound with a bad taste in their mouths and avoid the tiger moth as a meal.

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Thanks, Jess for finding this beauty and sharing its picture.

Butterflies in the Community Gardens

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We have created a wonderful habitat for butterflies at the Pitney Meadows Community Gardens.  Pictured above is the caterpillar of the Eastern Swallowtail butterfly,  photographed by Margie I. on Saturday.

We also have several Monarchs in the caterpillar stage in the butterfly garden.

It is so nice to see.

 

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

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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: www.dawnswildthings.com

Natalie