Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Late Summer's little miracles

Did you know that right about now the last crop of butterflies are hatching out?  My job as a horticulturist means I get the opportunity to experience things not everyone does.  It's a great profession.  One summer at my parents farm, a flock of monarchs came and covered the trunk of one of the trees.  I had dreams about it later in life thinking it wasn't real but then found out from my dad that it actually DID happen.

Being a nature lover, I'm always on the lookout for nature.  On occasion, I get lucky and manage to hatch out a Monarch.  That's right, no joke!

The caterpillars can only be found on milkweed plants.  That's any plant with the name Asclepias

They come in orange, pink and white but here are two of my faves.  Oftentimes, I think people shy away from planting native plants because they get so enormous.  It's all about knowing the plants and these two are demure, small and non-invasive milkweeds that monarchs definitely dig!

Asclepias tuberosa - Butterflyweed

Asclepias verticillata - Whorled milkweed
If you see a caterpillar simply pluck him off and grab a bunch of leaves from the plant it was on, they are voracious so you'll likely have to get more!  You can buy a little house for it or keep it in a container with plenty of holes in the top.

When he's ready he'll turn in to a chrysalis like this!                       And finally after about 10 days
If you want lots of info go to  Seeing the entire process is such a little miracle and I KNOW someone has made jewelry out of the shape and color of those chrysalids....they are flecked with gold and gorgeous!

Happy butterfly hunting!

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Remember these?

I've been canning and canning! You know it's harvest time when it's perfectly normal to walk out of the store with 36 mason jars. I can't complain. Every year I wonder how on earth I'm going to get it all done but it does. get. done.

From this:

To this:

But what to do with all this?

I'm sorry but the do-it-yourselfer in me can't abide waste. I see all those skins and cores and think "Someone could eat that, surely there's a use for it?". And I think there could be, next time. Pectin is derived from apple cores......hmmmmm. I sense a kitchen experiment coming on.

In the meantime ponder this: any empty box, basket or even a cooler why does she DO that?

Monday, August 20, 2012


I heart this time of year. I walk around, drive around and bike around in awe of all dem apples! You know, the ones dangling from your neighbors yard. The ones that drop to the ground and feed the crawling things.

I hate to see that! So down the road from me is a tree that for some reason (dry weather? mild winter?) produced a huge amount of gorgeous apples, some with nary a blemish.

Oh life is sweet when you've got free food right down the road.

Friday, August 10, 2012


I reached the big 5-0

Thanks to my 50 followers!  I'm so glad there are 50 people out there in cyberspace that enjoy what I have to talk about.

I'm warm

I'm fuzzy


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Favorite Quote for the Moment

"There seem to be but three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is bywar... This is robbery. The second bycommerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, wherein man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favour, as a reward for his innocent life and his virtuous industry."

—Benjamin Franklin

Ahhhh Ben, no wonder he was considered The Most Dangerous Man in America at one point.

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Scenes from the Life of Benjamin Franklin

Monday, August 6, 2012

Holy Jungle Batman!

Are you tired of hearing about my garden yet?

You'd think I had never grown vegetables before.  And it's true, it's been a while.

In central Indiana I had a small, teeny tiny veggie patch that I grew for a novelty.

In Pennsylvania I had two small triangle shaped beds at the back of the fenced in yard (OKRA like you've NEVER seen!!)  Nothing like a zone 6 to grow just about everything you'd ever want to grow.  No wonder Pennsylvania is the hub of horticulture in North America.

And in Maine, well, I don't know how anyone even manages to eat vegetables in Maine.  Sand for soil.  Short short short growing season.  You wait until mid June before you can even see the ground for all the snow.  By August, you've harvested 5 miniscule little maters and by September you've ripped everything out in frustration.

Northwest Indiana has been waaaaay better to me in this regard.  Just lookee here:

And here:

And, Awwww

 Life is good.  Sunflowers are even better.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Tale of Big Momma & Little Son (Gilbert)

This is my first year growing really big tomato plants and for kicks, I bought some heirloom varieties.  I love the novelty, I love the NON GMO, I love the fact that I can collect their seed for next year.  GO HEIRLOOM!

Meet Big Momma. (aka Mortgage Lifter)

Now when I planted her she was just a wee little thing.  Called Mortgage Lifter because her very large, very luscious and prolific fruit are said to be able to lift the mortgage off your house if you take to selling them.  I call her Big Momma.  She was the first to ripen in my garden and while all the other maters were playing ketchup (oh so sorry), she was waaaay ahead.  Her fruit are big, meaty, and the prettiest pinkish red you ever saw.  How can you not see she's a Big Momma?

When I go out to my garden I have conversations with the plants.  It's my way of communicating the joy I feel at their producing things for me to eat.

"Got anything for me today Big Momma? Oh wow Momma, you are showing all these other boys up!  Good job Momma!"

I cheer on my maters.  Especially her Little Son next door (aka Gilbert(ie) Paste). "C'mon Little Son, your momma is working much harder than you! You better keep up!"

He needed a lot of help.  He was all contorted looking when he went in and he nearly got ripped out, I thought for sure he had a virus, but something told me, since I am just a learnin', to hold off, and I did.

Little Son will be beating out his momma pretty soon and I will be canning like gangbusters.

And just because, I'll go ahead and introduce you to Missie Leigh.  She's one of them there fancy maters you see?  But despite her somewhat sour demeanor, she goes in to the canning jars just as easily and gets some stares and 2nd glances due to her fancy coloring.  Don't you know you shouldn't stare??