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.

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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?