January 30, 2016

Saturday Gardening Thread: Not DRAFT Edition [Y-not and KT]
— Open Blogger

Greetings gardeners!

I hope you all survived the storm without major incident. Here at the vast half acre Y-not Estate we lost one Eastern cedar to the ice and snow. Most of our cedars did fine, however, and resisted damage from the elements as they were designed.

The golf course behind us saw quite a bit of damage, mostly to the white pines. I'm not sure how many trees were downed, but there were a lot of large branches that fell. Apparently quite a few magnolias were also damaged in our area. (Here's an article about how they fared after last year's heavy snows.)

We'll be looking to replace the Eastern cedar we lost and add to our collection of evergreens, so I've started reading up on the best varieties to choose, here and here. I even found a blogger in Kentucky who has researched the best tall trees to plant in our area.

I may be too late for this year, but I plan on learning all I can about how to ensure my trees survive the NEXT big storm, here and here.

In the meantime, my lovely cedar has been converted into bedding for the world's largest hamster!

(Actually, don't do this. It's bad for your hamsters!)

Now, here's something warm and pleasant from KT:
While many members of The Horde have been having Adventures with Snow, I have been thinking about butterflies. Spring will come someday and gardening will again be possible. Our rosemary is already blooming, and the bees are out.

The Monarch Butterflies will be leaving their little Coastal California enclaves a couple of hours from us soon. February 6 is California Western Monarch Day. One of their enclaves, the little resort city of Pacific Grove, has hit the wall with regard to public pension costs. Butterflies still hang out there in winter, though. "Monarch mating season is in February around Valentine's day. The monarchs leave the California Central Coast around late February to the beginning of March."

But today, I thought I would focus on some butterflies whose caterpillars eat some of the same things people do.

Beckoning Black Swallowtail Butterflies (and some relatives)

After she moved to Kentucky, Y-not asked The Horde for information on plants that would attract butterflies to her new garden. It has been a while since we discussed butterfly gardening. Black Swallowtails, AKA Eastern Black Swallowtails, are among the easiest of the Larger-than-Painted-Lady butterflies to attract to eastern gardens. Anise Swallowtails are similarly adapted to gardens in certain parts of the west. Other swallowtails which share some host plants with these two species are mentioned below, too.

Several members of The Horde have planted Butterfly Gardens. You can check on which species of butterflies you might be able to attract to your garden by typing in your zip code here. In my case, the list seemed over-optimistic. But it is a start.

Most gardeners could grow at least one of the host plants for the caterpillars of the Black and Anise Swallowtail butterflies. Many of them are useful in the kitchen, too. As I recall, Y-not is putting off major gardening projects until a fence is finished, but maybe she could grow a host plant in a pot to attract mama butterflies. Nectar plants are more effective at attracting butterflies when planted in large swaths.

Egg-laying Black and Anise Swallowtail butterflies are attracted by carrots, parsnips, celery, caraway, dill, fennel and parsley. Related host plants found in the wild are listed here. I really like the photos at that link. This butterfly shows sexual dimorphism, with female butterflies typically displaying more blue and less yellow on open wings than males. The darker color of the female offers some protection from predators in areas where the black-and-blue Pipevine Swallowtail also flies. It is poisonous to some predators.

blackswt8503.jpg

Female Black Swallowtail

The Black Swallowtail is found in most of the Eastern U.S. and into Canada. It is the State Insect of Oklahoma. Relaxing videos of its lifecycle and of adults feeding on phlox at the link.

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Male Black Swallowtail

Black and Anise swallowtail caterpillars often pupate on or near the host plants. The chrysalis is suspended from a silken loop. If you find one in the fall and want it to hatch in your yard next spring, you could carefully place it in a protected outdoor location - not too warm, no artificial light or strong winter sun, so the butterfly will not emerge too early in spring. Something to remember during fall garden clean-up.

Caterpillar-Watching

I used to raise Anise Swallowtail butterflies when I lived near bluffs in Southern California where they had established a population. Watching caterpillars for a few minutes cleared my mind when life seemed too complex. They are so focused on eating. And consequently, on pooping. Not much complexity there. Watching them pupate and emerge as butterflies was also fascinating.

Like many other caterpillars in the Swallowtail family, Black and Anise Swallowtail caterpillars have stinky, soft "horns" (the osmeterium) that they can extend when alarmed. But Anise Swallowtail butterflies are nicely fragrant, like perfume, when they first emerge. At least if the caterpillars were fed on fennel. You can see a caterpillar extending its stinky osmeterium below. Do not be afraid (unless you intend to eat the caterpillar):

blackswallowtailosmeterium.jpg

Raising a Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

One Moronette raises Black Swallowtails in an actual, attractive Butterfly House. I am impressed. I raised caterpillars in a rodent carrier from a pet store, with some netting under the lid when caterpillars were tiny. Generally Anise Swallowtail cats (butterfly nut lingo there) do not stray from the host plant too much when tiny, but Gulf Fritillary caterpillars may.

Raising caterpillars indoors protects them from predators and parasitoids outdoors. Most of the time. But once I noticed that a little caterpillar was eating its brother and sisters. Some species of caterpillars are cannibalistic, but this is not typical behavior for Anise Swallowtail larvae. It then became immobile without forming a chrysalis. A tiny fly-like insect, probably a wasp, emerged from it a few days later.

In Southern California, Anise Swallowtails produce several generations a year. The name "Anise Swallowtail" came from its adaptation to fennel plants introduced by Spanish missionaries. People have a tendency to name anything that tastes like anise "anise". We have already discussed growing real anise as a garden plant. It is related to fennel, but I have not seen reference to its use as a host plant for these butterflies. Surprising.

P1050659.jpg

Life Cycle of the Anise Swallowtail

I have never seen an Anise Swallowtail here on the Central Valley floor. They are most common near coastal bluffs, mountain canyons and foothills where they can go hilltopping to find mates. Males visit mud puddles, like many other male butterflies.

The Black Swallowtail does not need to go hilltopping in order to find a mate, so it is more common in flatland gardens than the Anise Swallowtail. But males do defend display territories in "prominent topographic locations", and engage in a "lek mating system". Adults live longer than many other butterflies, and they may mate several times.

In California, Anise Swallowtail caterpillars are most often found on naturalized fennel plants or sometimes on orange trees. Nice life cycle photos here. They also feed on introduced poison hemlock in the first part of the season. I do not recommend planting poison hemlock as a host plant.

In other parts of their range, there is only one generation year. Caterpillars feed on native plants in the carrot and parsley family.

Cow Parsnip and other wild host plants

One common host is the dramatic Cow Parsnip, Herculeum maximum, named after Hercules. Native Americans have used peeled stalks of this plant for food, but like the wilder forms of celery, its juices can produce phototoxicity. For garden use, I think it looks best as a single, bold plant or small group of plants, rather than like this:

old-barn-surrounded-by-wildflowers_2791.jpg

Cow Parsnip in an Alaskan Yard

The Short-tailed Swallowtail is very similar to the male Black Swallowtail. It lives in maritime regions of Eastern Canada, feeding on wild plants in the carrot and parsley family, notably Angelica and Scotch Lovage, in addition to Cow Parsnip. This butterfly is garden-friendly, like the Black Swallowtail. A Western counterpart found less frequently in gardens is the Indra Swallowtail. There are several subspecies with strikingly different appearances, all beautiful. Common names include Short-Tailed Black, Cliff and Grand Canyon Swallowtail. Males patrol parallel to ridgetops, while Anise Swallowtails patrol at the summits.

Growing Fennel

For Black Swallowtails or Anise Swallowtails, I think bronze fennel is the best host plant for caterpillar-watching because it is see-through and its color makes the larger caterpillars stand out like striped ornaments. Their stripes can be surprisingly effective camouflage on green plants. Bronze fennel is a color variant of Common Fennel.

04-95-026-01-fennel2.jpg

Bronze and Green Common Fennel

Rosalind Creasy, who wrote the book on Edible Landscaping, did a nice piece on Cooking with Fennel. She also included some history:

According to some authorities, the ancient Greeks called fennel marathron, from marainein, "to grow thin", reflecting its use in suppressing appetite. Others suggest fennel was named marathon, after a village about 25 miles from Athens where fennel grew wild. In 490 b.c., Athenians defeated the Persians at this site. Before the battle, Pheidippides, carrying a stalk of fennel, ran 120 miles in two days to recruit soldiers from Sparta; another long-distance runner took news of the victory to Athens and fell dead on arrival. Modern marathon races derive from this bit of history.

This is one tough plant in mild-winter climates. Common fennel is a major pest in some wild areas of California. Its ability to inhibit the growth of many other plants is a big part of the problem. There is now a fairly expensive campaign to eradicate it from Santa Cruz Island. Along with feral hogs. There are recipes that combine fennel with hog meat . . .

Common fennel can be grown as a perennial except where the winters are very cold and in the desert. It is useful for leaves as a summer annual in most places and as a winter annual in the desert. It is controllable in the garden, but if you live near wild land, especially on the West Coast, you should remove seed heads from your plants. Since the roots inhibit growth of some plants, do not position plants near delicate subjects in your garden. Where happy, common fennel can reach 8 feet in height. Whack it back after it flowers to avoid an ugly dormant season. Or whack it back earlier to control its height or delay flowering. Watch for (and move) caterpillars or butterfly pupae on the stems.

In Sonoma County, when Master Gardeners say "fennel" they mean Florence Fennel, the one used as a vegetable. It typically grows 1.5 to 2 feet in height. It is not invasive like common fennel. There are growing directions and foodie recipes at the link.

Florence Fennel, with its thickened stem bases, provides a more substantial crop for the kitchen than bronze fennel or common fennel if grown properly. The feathery tops of all types of fennel are used pretty much like fresh dill. The flowers are more pungent and are used mostly as a garnish. The seeds can be used either green for a burst of flavor or in the more familiar dried form.

Florence fennel is grown as an annual. It is prone to bolting in many gardens. "To perpetuate itself is the strongest urge in any plant. Taste and succulence are our priorities."

fennel-bulbs.jpg

Florence Fennel

Timing seems to be important to growing fennel bulbs successfully. Florence Fennel can be grown in the winter in the desert. Day length may make a difference in other regions. The temperamental nature of Florence Fennel is a good reason to plant a named variety. For example, Zefa Fino is an open-pollinated cultivar noted for its bolt-resistance. There are also F1 hybrid cultivars.

If you are growing Florence Fennel and it looks like it is going to bolt, you might try cutting it off just above the roots (baby fennel bulbs?) and allowing it to re-grow. Even if it bolts, butterflies and caterpillars will love the flowers. And you can still use the leaves, flowers and seeds.

Whether you choose common fennel, bronze fennel or Florence fennel for your garden, it may save other plants in the carrot and parsley family from destruction, since it is more strongly attractive to mama butterflies. Just look at all those little caterpillars. Fun.

Y-not: Thanks, KT!

To close things up, I started looking for pretty pictures of ice-covered trees, which led me to this blog. The author posted some lovely photos of Niagara Falls (TYPO FIXED!) encased in snow and ice. It's hard to believe it, but it has been two years since our friend, Joffen passed away.

Let's raise a glass to him and all of our departed friends!

NiagraWinter.JPG

**UPDATE**
Commenter "Tim in Illinois" mentioned the interesting geological history of Niagara Falls. Here's a short video clip about that:


Posted by: Open Blogger at 10:05 AM | Comments (131)
Post contains 2214 words, total size 19 kb.

1 Draft comment.

Posted by: Burn the Witch at January 30, 2016 10:05 AM (Wckf4)

2 Missed it by that much ( )

Posted by: Skip at January 30, 2016 10:06 AM (hk3Fb)

3 I thought the draft ended.

Posted by: HH at January 30, 2016 10:06 AM (DrCtv)

4 LOL, yeah... I jumped the gun on the Post button! Lemons, lemonade... yada yada!

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:08 AM (t5zYU)

5 Was happy no storm damage, as I've written before one a couple of years ago lost 1 large pine and branches to make 2 others

Posted by: Skip at January 30, 2016 10:08 AM (hk3Fb)

6 All that wonderful smelling cedar wood not turned into a chest or wardrobe? How sad.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at January 30, 2016 10:08 AM (39g3+)

7 I havent forgotten Joffen. He's still followed on twitter by many. About a year ago, someone hacked his account and people were getting tweets from his account.

Posted by: Bruce With a Wang! at January 30, 2016 10:12 AM (iQIUe)

8 This is when you know it is cold


http://www.ehiyo.com/frozen-niagara-falls-2sh1q

Posted by: Vic[/i] We Have No Party at January 30, 2016 10:13 AM (t2KH5)

9 I remember a few years ago someone said all the butterflies were dead. Heard on the news they were going to shut off Niagara Falls as they did back in 1969 for some construction work.

Posted by: Bertram Cabot Jr. at January 30, 2016 10:14 AM (FkBIv)

10 Top 10?

Posted by: Weasel at January 30, 2016 10:15 AM (e3bId)

11 About a year ago, someone hacked his account and people were getting tweets from his account. -- What the heck is wrong with some people?

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:15 AM (t5zYU)

12 Butterflies? Those are animals.

Posted by: Snoop Doggy Dogg at January 30, 2016 10:15 AM (b2qGx)

13 7 I havent forgotten Joffen. He's still followed on twitter by many. About a year ago, someone hacked his account and people were getting tweets from his account. Posted by: Bruce With a Wang! ------------ What? Really? And where did this come from? How did he come up all of the sudden?

Posted by: Poo Chi at January 30, 2016 10:16 AM (fSuK4)

14 I saw the falls when I was a kid. Very neat and loud. But what scared me was the water rushing towards the falls. It wasn't deep but very, very fast. So yeah, it would have to be really really cold to freeze that water.

Posted by: HH at January 30, 2016 10:17 AM (DrCtv)

15 And where did this come from? How did he come up all of the sudden? -- Joffen lived in the Niagra area. When I was looking for snowy pictures, I stumbled into a blog post about Niagra Falls...which led me to that old post I linked that was put up a day or so after Joffen died. There's a video of Niagra Falls in it. It just so happens to be the second anniversary (week) of his passing. Time is flying.

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:19 AM (t5zYU)

16 I've been toying with the idea of learning about the birds that visit our backyard feeders.

Posted by: Weasel at January 30, 2016 10:19 AM (e3bId)

17 I think the divorce and not being able to see his daughter drove joffen over the edge.

Posted by: Ronster at January 30, 2016 10:20 AM (mUa7N)

18 That is a gorgeous caterpillar in KT's section. I never see pretty caterpillars out in the yard - just ugly ones.

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:21 AM (t5zYU)

19 16 I've been toying with the idea of learning about the birds that visit our backyard feeders. --- We had a little guy hopping around our back patio during the snowstorm last week. I couldn't quite figure out what he was -- seemed to be some sort of gnatcatcher or related, based on the beak and body.

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:22 AM (t5zYU)

20 We are expecting a 2 day blizzard starting tonight. Probably won't amount to much.

Posted by: Ronster at January 30, 2016 10:22 AM (mUa7N)

21 My garden is standing water again.
Last two years I have been cutting the grass turf that has been growing over my sidewalk and curbs and stomping it into other low spots, and they barely had standing water this year. 
Apparently it now runs to the other end of the property to where my garden is. 

*sigh*  If I keep this up everywhere in the yard I will wind up living on a hill.

Posted by: Kindlot at January 30, 2016 10:23 AM (q2o38)

22 Apparently it now runs to the other end of the property to where my garden is. --- Time to plant rice! :-)

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:24 AM (t5zYU)

23 Thank you Y-not and KT! I need to go to Nipomo and see the monarchs.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 10:24 AM (egOGm)

24 What the heck is wrong with some people? Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 03:15 PM (t5zYU) Someone did that to my real name account that I rarely use. My brother, one of my five followers, told me one day that there were comments on there about things like "just took a long piss". My bio was changed too, but just with random meaningless facts. Making my password more complicated seems to have fixed the problem. Someone must have been terminally bored to have taken the trouble to do that to someone he didn't know and no one has ever heard of.

Posted by: stace at January 30, 2016 10:24 AM (CoX6k)

25 Has anyone done any study or have any theory on when the next walk back of the Falls might happen? Do they happen bit by bit or several hundred feet at a time. If they are the big walk back, now that would be a sight see

Posted by: Tim in Illinois. Luap Nor's Last Chance at January 30, 2016 10:24 AM (WVsWD)

26 >>20 We are expecting a 2 day blizzard starting tonight. It's gorgeous here now. 60s. People are out golfing even though there's still some snow on the greens!

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:25 AM (t5zYU)

27 I know, Y-not. I know too well. (I didn't read content first, sorry) When we talked, he would sit beside an open window smoking a cigarette. I could hear the falls over the phone, he lived so close. Shit. Now I'm crying like a schoolgirl...

Posted by: Poo Chi at January 30, 2016 10:26 AM (fSuK4)

28 Geez, I just realized I misspelled Niagara! Lemme fix that!

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:27 AM (t5zYU)

29 Time to plant rice! :-)
Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 03:24 PM (t5zYU)


Cattails, rushes, wapato or maybe I'll just put in Koi. 

All my compost I dug in last Fall probably has leached out too.

Posted by: Kindlot at January 30, 2016 10:27 AM (q2o38)

30 Supposed to be a major storm headed my way early next week. But it's still way way ought right now so no one really knows where it's going to hit.

Posted by: HH at January 30, 2016 10:28 AM (DrCtv)

31 Damn, I'm sorry Chi -- and everyone. This week is hard for me. My mom died 23 yrs ago this week. Look at KT's butterflies!

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:28 AM (t5zYU)

32 What's the Niagara "walk back"?

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:29 AM (t5zYU)

33 We had our red oaks trimmed that were hanging over the barn and pool area. They look sad. We are going to prune the grapes next week. My guy is driving the small tractor right now through the grapes with the cultivator. It's sprinkling right now, we are expecting an inch of rain Sunday into Monday.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 10:29 AM (egOGm)

34 Just once I had some black swallowtail caterpillars on my parsley. I let them have it, but I took one to raise in my son's little butterfly house we'd never used. He and I both got a kick out of it. We just this week we finally got a light freeze on Hell Patio, and one of the dwarf bananas got nipped back. usually they both freeze to the ground, but maybe not this year. I haven't had to cover or heat the lime trees even once.

Posted by: stace at January 30, 2016 10:30 AM (CoX6k)

35 Y-not, That's always hard. I get sad around my Dad's birthday. Hang in there.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 10:30 AM (egOGm)

36 People are out golfing even though there's still some snow on the greens! Posted by: Y-not Maybe this global warming thing isn't so bad after all.

Posted by: Barack Obama at January 30, 2016 10:31 AM (b2qGx)

37 The preferred term is "swallowtails of color".

Posted by: Barack Obama at January 30, 2016 10:33 AM (b2qGx)

38 Maybe this global warming thing isn't so bad after all. Posted by: Barack Obama at January 30, 2016 03:31 PM -- The public bathhouses are always open!

Posted by: Reggie Love at January 30, 2016 10:33 AM (t5zYU)

39 I let them have it, but I took one to raise in my son's little butterfly house we'd never used. -- I always see those but don't really understand how they "work." What's the concept behind them? (Dumb question, I know.)

Posted by: Reggie Love at January 30, 2016 10:34 AM (t5zYU)

40 Don't be sorry, Y. I'm not. I'm just sad... Cooth & i have talked about it this week already. I know the "anniversary " way too well. (Yes, that was me panicking publicly that fateful morning) I just worry/wonder about Belle.

Posted by: Poo Chi at January 30, 2016 10:35 AM (fSuK4)

41 /Reggie Love sock off

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:35 AM (t5zYU)

42 The peppers have sprouted. Repeat. The peppers have sprouted. Now on to our feature article and comments.

Posted by: gingeroni at January 30, 2016 10:35 AM (0oJ9U)

43 "Look at KT's butterflies!" Heh. Better then "Look at the flowers Lizzy, look at the flowers!"

Posted by: HH at January 30, 2016 10:36 AM (DrCtv)

44 I'm sorry Y-not.

Posted by: stace at January 30, 2016 10:37 AM (CoX6k)

45 Rain stopped, sun is out aannnnd I need to finish raking up the leaves I missed last fall.

Evergreens, yeah, that's the ticket...

Thanks for the garden threads!

Posted by: JQ Flyover at January 30, 2016 10:37 AM (044Fx)

46 "What's the Niagara "walk back"? " It is how the Falls were formed according to Geologist. If You follow the Niagara River you will see on the bottom side debris rock from previous collapses. The Falls area are where the collapsing happens. Some geologist theorize that the collapses happen in a major fashion. Several hundred yards at atime. Since no one living has actually witnesses a collapse, like much of science, it remains just a theory.

Posted by: Tim in Illinois. Luap Nor's Last Chance at January 30, 2016 10:38 AM (WVsWD)

47 Very excited there is rain for SoCal tomorrow, so I put in some California poppy and nasturtium seeds. A couple weeks ago I said I was giving my cauliflower one week to get some veg inside the leaves or I'd pitch it. The next week, there were little white heads in there. Who knew cauliflower has ears!

Posted by: keena at January 30, 2016 10:39 AM (RiTnx)

48 >>Posted by: Tim in Illinois. Luap Nor's Last Chance Oooh, interesting!

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 10:43 AM (t5zYU)

49 Thanks for the thread, as always, and the butterfly info. We are looking at ways to attract more songbirds and butterflies to the yard. Got a start last year and expect to do more the next couple of seasons. Fortunately, the plants that attract them are rather hearty so once established, they don't require much care. More time for the vegetables. After that delightful blanket-blank blizzard last week, we are expecting unseasonably warm days this week. Might see dirt sooner than April, which was my original impression.

Posted by: JTB at January 30, 2016 10:45 AM (FvdPb)

50 Lovely photos, Y-Not and KT And in case anyone is considering suicide, please don't. Too many people would be devastated by your death. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Line is 1-800-273-(Talk) 8255. There are also state suicide prevention lines. Just plug name of your state and suicide prevention line into your search engine

Posted by: FenelonSpoke at January 30, 2016 10:48 AM (w4NZ8)

51 My gardening this week consists of spraying roundup on weeds, picking up branches & sticks from the latest storm, and fixing the neighbor's fence that blew down so the dog doesn't get out. Fun!

Posted by: Poo Chi at January 30, 2016 10:49 AM (fSuK4)

52 Keena, I'm happy your cauliflower grew!!

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 10:49 AM (egOGm)

53 OK, I have to go prune back my currants.  I put them in and they haven't done much.  I have been told they fruit on 3 year wood and this is the third year, so it is time to clip out the dead and crossing wood and open them up a bit.

I will go and do the same with my raspberries.

If I do it now I won't have to wonder if I want to do it in the rain.

Posted by: Kindlot at January 30, 2016 10:49 AM (q2o38)

54 Posted by: Tim in Illinois. Luap Nor's Last Chance at January 30, 2016 03:38 PM (WVsWD Years ago my brother had a collection of "Prince Valiant" comics. In one of them the vikings are there at Niagara in around 800 A.D. and witness it. Amazing art by Hal Foster. And that was the first time I had ever heard about that.

Posted by: HH at January 30, 2016 10:50 AM (DrCtv)

55 I raised a swallowtail from a caterpillar as a kid. It was bright yellow, the normal kind.

Posted by: angela urkel at January 30, 2016 10:50 AM (b2qGx)

56 So yesterday my husband, who is out in far west Texas quail hunting (ie drinking and farting around) with a bunch of men on our extended family ranch, emailed and said the tannerite they were shooting had started a big grass fire and [name of hill] was toast. Then silence. Much later a text saying "At least your brother got some cool pictures with his drone and the fire department has it under control." Today, silence. I just texted him. Did y'all set fire to anything else today? Well, at least, (and here's the plant related part) I am thinking that even though it's embarrassing to have to call the FD, fire in general is good for the grass and controls the unwanted brush. Since it didn't burn any structures, it's actually a good thing.

Posted by: stace at January 30, 2016 10:52 AM (CoX6k)

57 Here's pics of my ugly trees. I hope they look better quickly. http://tinypic.com/r/2n1xi81/9 http://tinypic.com/r/1zh34lk/9

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 10:53 AM (egOGm)

58 Y-Not. If you can find it, I think it was a Discovery Channel episode on Niagara Falls that you should see. It has a pretty nice animation on how the Falls were created.

Posted by: Tim in Illinois. Luap Nor's Last Chance at January 30, 2016 10:53 AM (WVsWD)

59 I apologize to the State of New Jersey for missing the recent confimation (at the very end of December) of the Black Swallowtail as its State Butterfly.

There were other contenders, but "endangered" and "discovered in our state" lost out to the pretty and familiar Black Swallowtail.

Bringing Republicans and Democrats together. 

http://tinyurl.com/jdg7llk




Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 10:53 AM (qahv/)

60 Stace, Fire is good, that's a funny story.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 10:55 AM (egOGm)

61 MPs could be banned from drinking at work due to Islamic regulation http://goo.gl/eHNsU8 ========== If this doesnt light a fire under limey ass, nothing will.

Posted by: Bruce With a Wang! at January 30, 2016 10:55 AM (iQIUe)

62 Boy, that parliament beer looks good! lol This place needs a bar!

Posted by: Bruce With a Wang! at January 30, 2016 10:57 AM (iQIUe)

63 Momma owl startled by a not-too-bright squirrel:

http://tinyurl.com/ju9kc7k

Posted by: Jane D'oh at January 30, 2016 10:57 AM (FsuaD)

64 The wife got an Aero Garden at Christmas. http://tinyurl.com/zk46bxq She planted the herbs last weekend. The basil and dill have sprouted. Woo woo! We're gardening!

Posted by: Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 10:59 AM (06b4v)

65 Jane, I've been watching the owl live stream. I found an owl nest yesterday. My guy said it's a barn owl nest.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 11:00 AM (egOGm)

66 CaliGirl, how come your pics are sideways? It strains my neck.

Posted by: Ronster at January 30, 2016 11:02 AM (mUa7N)

67 Posted by: Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 03:59 PM (06b4v) That is really cool. I can't wait till it warms up here.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 11:02 AM (egOGm)

68 I read that owls don't make their own nests. They find an abandoned Hawk nest.

Posted by: Ronster at January 30, 2016 11:03 AM (mUa7N)

69 Yay for cauliflower, Keena!

Yesterday I gambled on a 6-pack of "Bsby Broccoli". So, a non-trademarked "Brocolini".  Bonnie Plants has it out this year.  Cultivar is "Artwork".  Never heard of it. 

Tag says it is heat tolerant. 

Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 11:04 AM (qahv/)

70 Ronster, It's the IPhone I think. If you click on the pic, it should turn it right side up.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 11:04 AM (egOGm)

71 Ronster, My guy saw the owls fly away. We were in the trees looking for a rooster.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 11:05 AM (egOGm)

72 Re fennel... here in Florida the old timers tossed Dog Fennel under the beds to fight fleas. It actually works. My grandparents used to send my sis and I out to scout and cut them. I've used the method myself several times.

Posted by: Niedermeyer's Dead Horse at January 30, 2016 11:06 AM (8PbKi)

73 60 Stace, Fire is good, that's a funny story. Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 03:55 PM (egOGm) Ha, yeah, I have to laugh. I know those guys are having tons of fun doing things that would make Mike Bloomberg reach for his smelling salts. That dog problem you have sucks. I hope that owner keeps it under control so no one has to shoot it, cuz as you say, sometimes it has to be done. Still no answer from my husband, lol.

Posted by: stace at January 30, 2016 11:06 AM (CoX6k)

74 I read that owls don't make their own nests. They find an abandoned Hawk nest. Posted by: Ronster at January 30, 2016 04:03 PM (mUa7N) We declare that all owl eggs must be clearly labeled "Made in Hawk Nest".

Posted by: King Admiral Emperor Barky and the EU Tyrants at January 30, 2016 11:06 AM (zc3Db)

75 Post updated with a video about the Falls.

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 11:06 AM (t5zYU)

76 The peppers have sprouted. Repeat. The peppers have sprouted. Caterpillar has a long mustache.

Posted by: BBC at January 30, 2016 11:07 AM (FkBIv)

77 68 I read that owls don't make their own nests. They find an abandoned Hawk nest.

Posted by: Ronster at January 30, 2016 04:03 PM (mUa7N)



They nested last year, and are nesting this year, in an abandoned bald eagle nest.  The eagles actually came back this year and checked out the nest and left.  A pair of ospreys also checked it out. 



The pine tree is infested with beetles, which are killing it.  A couple of the large branches the owlets perched on last year have fallen off. 

Posted by: Jane D'oh at January 30, 2016 11:08 AM (FsuaD)

78 How are your rainfall totals looking, CaliGirl?  I hear our nearby mountains are a little above normal in snow. 

Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 11:08 AM (qahv/)

79 Posted by: Niedermeyer's Dead Horse at January 30, 2016 04:06 PM (8PbKi) One of the weeds that grows around here, of course I can't remember which one or the name, the guys put it in their boots so they don't smell.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 11:10 AM (egOGm)

80 >>Posted by: Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 03:59 PM Keep us posted!

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 11:10 AM (t5zYU)

81 56 So yesterday my husband, who is out in far west Texas quail hunting (ie drinking and farting around) with a bunch of men on our extended family ranch, emailed and said the tannerite they were shooting had started a big grass fire and [name of hill] was toast. About that fire...

Posted by: BLM at January 30, 2016 11:11 AM (Bi1Tt)

82 >>The peppers have sprouted. Repeat. The peppers have sprouted. >>>>Caterpillar has a long mustache. My hovercraft is full of eels!

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 11:11 AM (t5zYU)

83 angela urkel at January 30, 2016 03:50 PM

You raised a regular yellow swallowtail?  Did the caterpillar look like it had snake eyes?

Those little stinky horns are suppposed to look like a snake's tongue.  I don't quite see it, but maybe if I were a bird . . .

Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 11:12 AM (qahv/)

84 KT, I'd have to ask my husband. We had an inch last week. The storm before that we had 2 inches. Our normal is 15 inches I think. My husband likes the inch a week so it doesn't run off.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 11:12 AM (egOGm)

85 Owls don't make their own nests?

I once rescued an owl, a fairly large one, from a gang of crows driving it out of a palm tree.  Maybe one of them had a nest there. 

It was daytime, and the owl was very disoriented.  Had a hard time perching, even. 

Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 11:15 AM (qahv/)

86 That's the same nest that the Savannah owl cam had up, what, last year? I recognize the little pond in the background.

Posted by: Old Blue at January 30, 2016 11:17 AM (9iR5/)

87 KT, I love listening to the owls at night. I tried to save a barn owl with a broken wing last year. It had to be put down. It lived above my house.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 11:20 AM (egOGm)

88 Joffen was kinda aggravating in some ways, but I miss him. Jackass. I don't know how he did it and don't want to know. Tell you one thing though, can anybody stand at the edge of the falls and not wonder what it would be like to jump? Be honest.

Posted by: Eromero at January 30, 2016 11:22 AM (zLDYs)

89 IIRC, Joffen was a F**king Sunshine Patriot, a name given to him by Dave in Texas, I think. :-)

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 11:23 AM (t5zYU)

90 NDH,

I had never heard of Dog Fennel. 

https://www.dailyadvance.com/features/columnist2/dog-fennel-1264695

I think it is related more closely to Joe Pye Weed than to fennel.  Joe Pye Weed is a dramatic butterfly nectar plant for people with somewhat soggy soil. 

Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 11:27 AM (qahv/)

91 Old Blue, it's the same nest.  The You Tube vid of the squirrel startling the owl was taken from the nest cam:

http://landingsbirdcam.com/

She's sitting on two eggs.  No one knows if she's the same mamma owl as last year.  One mother great horned owl can produce approx. 20 owlets or more in her 15-20 year life span.

Posted by: Jane D'oh at January 30, 2016 11:30 AM (FsuaD)

92 I've planted hundreds of seeds for transplant and just ordered starting medium to start 800 heads of lettuce (not all at the same time,, about 150 at a time) I made a big chicken litter compost pile last spring that is now going to be a 20x20 herb garden. I'm going to go for early early on everything and be prepared to cover with mini heated tunnels if I need to. I'm so busy that I barely have time for Twitter fights with Dondi lovers.

Posted by: traye at January 30, 2016 11:31 AM (VxtaD)

93 15 And where did this come from? How did he come up all of the sudden?
--

Joffen lived in the Niagra area. When I was looking for snowy pictures, I stumbled into a blog post about Niagra Falls...which led me to that old post I linked that was put up a day or so after Joffen died. There's a video of Niagra Falls in it.

It just so happens to be the second anniversary (week) of his passing.

Time is flying.

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 03:19 PM (t5zYU)



It's been on my mind recently because of the season. I thought it was nicely handled in the post.

Posted by: cthulhu at January 30, 2016 11:34 AM (EzgxV)

94 Traye, A farmers work is never done. You have a nice set up. Good luck with the lechuga.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 11:35 AM (egOGm)

95 Has it been 2 years already? Well, I have to do grocery shopping today to stock up to get ready to be snowed in the next couple of days again, I think I'll buy the mint Oreos and try them for the first time in honor of him. I can't even see or type his name anymore without boo-hooing. Where's the damn Kleenex? Thanks for reminding me Y-Not.

Posted by: L, Elle at January 30, 2016 11:35 AM (2x3L+)

96 You raised a regular yellow swallowtail? Did the caterpillar look like it had snake eyes? Those little stinky horns are suppposed to look like a snake's tongue. I don't quite see it, but maybe if I were a bird . . .  Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 04:12 PM (qahv/) To be honest, my memory isn't that clear. I was about 10 and I'm 44 now. I kept it in a jar in the shed, so there wasn't a lot of provocation for the horns to come out, I imagine. All I clearly remember is coming to the shed one day, seeing the cocoon had hatched, admired it for a minute, stunned, then letting it go.

Posted by: angela urkel at January 30, 2016 11:35 AM (b2qGx)

97 Posted by: Eromero at January 30, 2016 04:22 PM (zLDYs)

I spoke with him for a couple of hours when things were getting very difficult for him.

He seemed like a very nice man, and I am gratified that Y-not has reminded us of him......

Posted by: CharlieBrown'sDildo at January 30, 2016 11:36 AM (Zu3d9)

98 Cali girl, I have no worries about that one, I could sell pork, eggs and lettuce and I'd never run out of customers. People are nuts over hydro butterhead lettuce. Maybe someday I'll be very successfully and can have a chilled greenhouse and grow it in the summer.

Posted by: traye at January 30, 2016 11:39 AM (VxtaD)

99 70F here now, 50F overnight. 25F a couple of nights ago. Not sure if any fruit is gonna set this year, even the pears...

Posted by: Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 11:41 AM (Bi1Tt)

100 There's apparently a hybrid now called 'Kalettes' which are kale leaves in brussels sprout form. Those crafty brassicae! I may actually have heard about them on this blog but I am now fascinated by them and really want to try them. I haven't seen them in any local stores. http://www.kalettes.com/

Posted by: hogmartin at January 30, 2016 11:42 AM (NA5LM)

101 >>>> Tell you one thing though, can anybody stand at the edge of the falls and not wonder what it would be like to jump? Be honest. Posted by: Eromero at January 30, 2016 04:22 PM (zLDYs) ----- Hell no. Maybe in a barrel. There are better ways to leave this world than going out that way. Though it would be dramatic if nothing else. I imagine a lot of people kill themselves that way at the Falls --- just like jumping off suspension bridges and standing in front of trains.

Posted by: L, Elle at January 30, 2016 11:43 AM (2x3L+)

102 Posted by: hogmartin at January 30, 2016 04:42 PM (NA5LM) I want to try them because Brussels sprouts don't make here well, but this will have to wait as I don't see any time for extra experiments. But you give it a go and report back.

Posted by: traye at January 30, 2016 11:45 AM (VxtaD)

103 In an earlier thread Chi was talking about our pets and how cool his was. How about ours - hope it lifts some spirits. https://youtu.be/8JXtGhtnkBo

Posted by: tops at January 30, 2016 11:47 AM (AX1D8)

104 Oh Hey!

Thanks for the Credit. Have I told you that you are my favorite COB Y-Not?

Posted by: Tim in Illinois. Luap Nor's Last Chance at January 30, 2016 11:49 AM (WVsWD)

105 I always have had a thing about trying to engineer solutions.  I wonder if digging a radiator coil under the lettuce bed and running well water through it to cool the soil would keep your lettuce producing into the summer?

And/or some misters in a shade-cloth tunnel to cool through evaporation. 

Posted by: Kindltot at January 30, 2016 11:51 AM (q2o38)

106 Thanks for the Credit. Have I told you that you are my favorite COB Y-Not? -- Awwww, shucks! *blushes*

Posted by: Y-not (@moxiemom) at January 30, 2016 11:51 AM (t5zYU)

107 >>> Posted by: tops at January 30, 2016 04:47 PM (AX1D ---- Thanks for posting that. I needed a laugh. Dogs are so funny!! Maybe a Corona with lime would prevent that reaction from the doggie. :-)

Posted by: L, Elle at January 30, 2016 11:52 AM (2x3L+)

108 Ruh roh!

Posted by: Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 11:52 AM (06b4v)

109 L, Elle @ 101- A barrel? don't think so. When it breaks up you could get a bad splinter. Or lose an eye. As to the falls, he times I have narrowly dodged old father death, I laughed afterwards. An insane reaction, I know but there it is. For the record, I can't see myself killing myself. Maybe for a very worthy cause, but certainly not on a whimsy. And I'm sure Joffen was not a whimsy. He was smart enough to know it was a permanent solution to a temporary problem and proceeded anyway. We all felt like we knew him even if we didn't actually know him and it hurts us. We will never know magnitude of hurt going on in his head when it happened. It isn't wrong for us to wish he hadn't done it.

Posted by: Eromero at January 30, 2016 11:55 AM (zLDYs)

110 nood

Posted by: Vic[/i] We Have No Party at January 30, 2016 11:59 AM (t2KH5)

111 Traye, I like butter lettuce. My favorite is red leaf. We don't harvest lettuce again until April. My husband just brought home what I call the weeds. Mix of arugula, red oak, and other lettuce that I'd have to ask him what they are. I'm sure you are aware of it but around here some of the farmers do weekly fresh produce boxes. They are picked up at a grocery store so there is no delivery involved. I've seen the boxes, I know they fill them with hardware like cabbage and broccoli, onions. Big money in that.

Posted by: CaliGirl at January 30, 2016 12:00 PM (egOGm)

112 L,Elle The lime actually fell out of an adult beverage the evening before.

Posted by: tops at January 30, 2016 12:01 PM (AX1D8)

113 >>>> Posted by: Eromero at January 30, 2016 04:55 PM ---- Thank you for the consoling words. I feel inappropriately self absorbed when it comes to how that all ended. I have talked more than one person out of killing themselves. And I saw him do it twice on threads. The first time time, I tried to help. The second time I was tired and it was late and my awful first reaction that night was to think "not this again." That was the night he did it. I could have given him my phone number and email. I have in the past to others. Instead I went to sleep, did nothing to help him, and stopped thinking about him. Sins of omission. That is what that is called.

Posted by: L, Elle at January 30, 2016 12:01 PM (2x3L+)

114 There is a thing like that here, your stuff gets ordered online the company tells the farm all of their stuff that was ordered, you deliver it, they pack it where it's supposed to go and then customer comes picks up the box with whatever they ordered from various farms. What's great from the farm perspective is for example you'll have 100 heads of lettuce ready this week you put that in the system and it counts down the inventory as it's ordered.

Posted by: traye at January 30, 2016 12:08 PM (VxtaD)

115 Onions, Caligirl, you just reminded me, I have to remember to plant more onions.

Posted by: traye at January 30, 2016 12:10 PM (VxtaD)

116 I love butterflies. And have wild milk weeds and other attractors growing wild and cultivated. My archenemies are their cousins, moths! I can't plant squash early in the season because of vine borers. Aaaand, I saw a flour moth in the house a few days ago. That means some kind of pasta or flour came in already 'infected'! Time to deploy moth traps again...

Posted by: Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 12:11 PM (tz46A)

117 We're getting some global-warming here tonight, and about eight inches of it over Monday. Not looking forward to driving in any of it.

Posted by: boulder terlit hobo at January 30, 2016 12:12 PM (6FqZa)

118
hogmartin at January 30, 2016 04:42 PM

I think I saw Kalettes once at a nursery.  But maybe it was another new brassica cross. 

Nurseries often seem to be very slow to try new veggies, as a rule. 


Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 12:17 PM (qahv/)

119 Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 05:11 PM

Squash vine borers are nasty but interesting moths.  They look like some sort of fly.  Interesting that planting later helps for you. 

Squashes in the butternut family are generally more resistant because their stems are solid.  There are also some others that are somewhat resistant.    Cushaws are said to be good fried in chunks with onions and garlic. 

sfg.ly/1m5IbOJ
 

Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 12:27 PM (qahv/)

120 OMG!  Those are the weird little critters that keep eating my dill!

Black Swallowtail caterpillars?  I've picked dozens of them off of my dill, and they keep coming back!

Posted by: gastorgrab at January 30, 2016 12:35 PM (u6OFe)

121 Squashes in the butternut family are generally more resistant because their stems are solid. There are also some others that are somewhat resistant. Cushaws are said to be good fried in chunks with onions and garlic. KT, true dat!, but I love yellow squash and zucchinis, too. There is some sort of summer squash, I forget the variety, that you can plant around your favored types to draw the borers from the good stuff. They don't taste good and are strictly sacrificial..

Posted by: Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 12:38 PM (Bi1Tt)

122 Baloney! I know Mordor when I see it!

Posted by: C. Moss at January 30, 2016 12:45 PM (HS6CF)

123 My husband finally just answered my "did you start any fires today?" text. "Not yet, but there's still plenty of daylight left!" They had been down in the canyon where's there's no cell service, and now they're having a drink by the road. He's having a great time.

Posted by: stace at January 30, 2016 01:43 PM (CoX6k)

124 gastorgrab at January 30, 2016 05:35PM

Yes, those weird little critters grow up to be Black or Anise Swallowtails.  They are supposed to look like bird droppings when young. 

They call them "parsley worms" or "caraway worms" too.  But I think dill is almost as attractive to them as fennel. 

Posted by: KT at January 30, 2016 02:15 PM (qahv/)

125 Thank you Y-not and KT for responding to posts, however lame they may be. It means a lot to be acknowledged sometimes...

Posted by: Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 02:39 PM (Bi1Tt)

126 My husband finally just answered my "did you start any fires today?" text. "Not yet, but there's still plenty of daylight left!" They had been down in the canyon where's there's no cell service, and now they're having a drink by the road. He's having a great time. Posted by: stace at January 30, 2016 06:43 PM We had several grass fires on the farm in the 32 yrs I farmed. We were bordered by a rr so most were started by them. One was started by a spark from a burn barrel, maybe a couple by what I thought were controlled burns. Great way the clean up grassy hillsides you don't really want to mow, but check the weather forecast before! You should see the prairie wildflowers the next year after a burn, awesome.

Posted by: Farmer at January 30, 2016 02:58 PM (o/90i)

127 Thank you Y-not and KT for responding to posts, however lame they may be. It means a lot to be acknowledged sometimes... Posted by: Spun and Murky at January 30, 2016 07:39 PM Both very kind ladies for whom I have the utmost respect. Also many thanks for them putting their time and effort into this gardening thread.

Posted by: Farmer at January 30, 2016 03:04 PM (o/90i)

128 I love these gardening posts. And I don't even garden, other than indoors. These posts give us a little taste of spring in a long and dreary winter. Beautiful butterfly shots, too. Speaking of indoor gardening: Y-Not and KT, do either of you have an email, to which I could send something that might be of interest to you for a future post?

Posted by: Pastafarian at January 31, 2016 05:19 AM (pCf+a)

129 Pastafarian, the indoor garden info sound interesting.

You can send it to y-not's bailesworth address at that familiar "g".  Or catch her on Twitter at moxiemom. 

Let me know if I am being too obtuse. 

Posted by: KT at January 31, 2016 01:10 PM (qahv/)

130 Don't you butterfly me, young lady. Just. Don't. I have tried and tried for butterfly gardens, and everything dies but the weeds. Those blasted butterflies are costing me 200 bucks a butt, minimum. 'Butterflies are free', they say. Huh. In a pig's eye. Not that I am bitter.

Posted by: Persnickety at January 31, 2016 02:11 PM (CUJQR)

131 KT -- perfect, I just sent it, thanks. Not sure if it's anything usable -- it interested me, but I'm a gardening neophyte with pretty nichey interests (herbs grown in Aerogarden systems).

Posted by: Pastafarian at January 31, 2016 03:05 PM (pCf+a)

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