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We have Monarch butterflies and caterpillars: Creating a Monarch Habitat  RSS feed

 
Anne Miller
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Last fall, we had monarch butterflies visit our butterfly and hummingbird garden on their migration from the United States and Canada to where they spend the winter in Mexico.  They wait out the winter in Michocan, Mexico until conditions are favorable for a return flight in the spring. I have not seen the monarch migration, as we only get a few, but it is said to be one of the world's greatest natural wonders, yet it is threatened by habitat loss.


where- to-see-thousands-monarch-butterflies

michoacan-where-monarch-butterflies-migrate

Last year, our butterfly and hummingbird garden had blubonnets, firewheels, marigolds, autumn sage, honey suckle, moss roses, purslane and turk's cap.  This spring we added yarrow, blue sage and milkweed. This year we have had both Monarchs and their caterpillars.  I enjoy watching the caterpillars and picking milkweed seeds.

Simply, a habitat is food, water, and shelter. A habitat for monarchs can be anywhere, as long as  you have milkweed growing there. Key components of a garden habitat:   Gardens should be planted in sunny spots, with some protection from the wind. You can include windbreaks which can be a fence, shrubs, or a wall.  A milkweed species that is native to your area is a good choice to provide food for monarch caterpillars. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. You also need several milkweed plants as the caterpillars are little eating machines. A mix of native nectar plants with different bloom times will provide a stable food source for the butterflies. A combination of early, middle and late blooming species will fuel butterfly while breeding and during the migrations.

How you will use your garden will determine how to plan the space.  You want a sunny location.  Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds like flowers and flowers need sun. Some plants to consider: sunflowers, mistflowers, sages and asters.

For fall: Plant Goldenrod, Frostweed, Autumn sage, Late flowering boneset, Asters, Cowpen daisy in your fall garden to help Monarchs.

Shade options include Columbine, Turk’s Cap, and certain Goldenrods as excellent pollinator plants. 

Butterflies need damp, wet areas to re-hydrate and soak up minerals from the soil. A small swale or even a rain garden can satisfy this need and create a microhabitat within your garden that brings a new pollinator audience to your yard.  We have a bird bath for them which we place in the butterfly garden.  Your trees and flowering plants will also provide shelter from the wind.

Herbicides and pesticides should be avoided, as they can hurt caterpillars and adults.

We have seen several Monarch this fall and some of them laid eggs as we had 6 or 7 caterpillars.


A list of plants [with pictures and details] that Monarch and other butterflies like:

http://monarchbutterflygarden.net/butterfly-plants/

http://www.pollinator.org/guides.htm
 
Anne Miller
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I also want to mention that when we bought our milkweed seeds the company gave us a packet of free seeds which we planted.  The company said these were favorite nector plants for the Monarchs.

About eleven mystery plants came up so I had the task of identifying these mystery plants.  I am not knowledgeable enough to identify the until they bloom.

It turns out that we had:

American Basketflower - Centaurea americana  [A+ #1 pollinator plant for bees and butterflies]

American Basketflower

Firewheel aka Indian Blanket - Gaillardia pulchella

Indian Blanket

Mexican Sunflower - Tithonia rotundifolia  [both butterflies and hummingbirds loved this]

Mexican Sunflower

I had trouble identifying this one until I saw a picture of knapweed growing at Wheaton Lab.  It is related to knapweed and is related to the Centaurea [genus]. I can't find the species. Pink flower about the size of a quarter and very delicate with a thistle type recepticle:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centaurea
 
Casie Becker
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We let the native bush sunflowers grow all over in our flower beds and they're definitely one of the favorite plants of all sorts of wildlife, including the monarch butterflies. In early part of the day the plants are dominated by tiny goldfinch harvesting mature seeds (often hanging upside down from the plant to do this). As the afternoon heat sets in we start seeing more of the large orange varieties of butterfly.

Also good, and with a long bloom period are echinacea. Like the sunflower it has a long bloom period and large blossoms for large butterflies to land on. It even has edible seeds for birds. It even fills a human need as a medicinal herb. I would happily let my patches of echinacea expand to take over most of the bed where they are planted.

These are probably the least invasive of the pollinator plants I leave in my garden. Mostly, if it has a flower and it's not directly interfering with anything else I'll leave it to grow. Native bugs recognize these food plants even when we can't name them. Monarchs are just a seasonal show, but most of the year you can find a minimum of half a dozen different species of butterfly (and many more other pollinators) in my yard.

Just remember, you invited those caterpillars that are eating these plants. They evolved together, so your plant will recover after it's done feeding the next generation of butterflies.
 
Anne Miller
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Casie Becker wrote:Just remember, you invited those caterpillars that are eating these plants. They evolved together, so your plant will recover after it's done feeding the next generation of butterflies.


Casie, this is the reason for planting milkweed.  To feed the little eating machines.  I get so excited when I see them just sitting there and eating.  There are several stages in their life before they can become a butterfly and fly to Mexico.

Monarch-caterpillar.jpg
[Thumbnail for Monarch-caterpillar.jpg]
Monarch Caterpillar The little eating machine
Monarch-on-firewheel.jpg
[Thumbnail for Monarch-on-firewheel.jpg]
Monarch on a firewheel blossum
Monarch-on-Mexican-Sunflower.jpg
[Thumbnail for Monarch-on-Mexican-Sunflower.jpg]
Monarch on Mexican Sunflower
 
Anne Miller
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The egg stage lasts only 3 to 4 days. After the Monarch eggs hatch, the caterpillars are also called larva. While the word larva refers to the growth stage of all insects, the word caterpillar refers only to a butterfly or moth in this stage.  It is during this stage that monarchs do all of their growing, these "eating machines" take few breaks.

Larva or caterpillar stage lasts 10 to 14 days. They begin life by eating their eggshell, and then move on to the plant on which they were laid.

When the caterpillar has become too large for its skin, it molts, or sheds its skin. The shed skin is often eaten before the caterpillar ingests more plant food!  The intervals between molts are called instars. Monarchs go through five instars.

The last stage before becoming a butterfly is the Pupa or Chrysalis which lasts 10 to 14 days.

The time span from when the egg was laid to the time the butterflies hatch is 23 to 32 days.

http://www.monarchwatch.org/biology/cycle1.htm

It was a lot of fun watching the little caterpillars eating the milkweed.  It is my understanding  the Monarch are still migrating but I have not seen any in about two weeks.  That is not to say they have not been here, I have just not seen any.  Our milkweed is now covered with Queen butterflies which look like a smaller Monarch when their wings are closed, but look completely different with them open.

 
Anne Miller
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Today we had quite a few Monarchs come by on their way to Mexico.  I am thinking they are the last generation and ones that have hatched recently.

Planting milkweed was the best thing we have ever done since it draws the Monarchs to visit us.  Next year we are hoping to learn how to raise the caterpillars.
 
Anne Miller
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We were still seeing Monarchs around the 1st of November making their way to Mexico!

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced funding for a new conservation effort focused on helping Texas’ private landowners and agricultural producers provide food and habitat for Monarch butterflies. This targeted effort will invest $330,000 in fiscal year 2016 to help combat the iconic species’ decline.

NRCS Announces Funding for Monarch Habitat Restoration

NRCS in Texas has identified 28 high-priority counties that lie within the butterfly’s flight zone: Palo Pinto, Parker, Tarrant, Dallas, Kaufman, Johnson, Ellis, Navarro, McLennan, Limestone, Bell, Burnet, Williamson, Llano, Lee, Gillespie, Blanco, Travis, Hayes, Bastrop, Caldwell, Guadalupe, Comal, Kendall, Bexar, Wilson, Kerr and Atascosa.

This conservation initiative is part of a 10-state national effort targeting the heart of the monarch’s migratory route, with Texas being a key state in that migration pattern. Monarch populations have decreased significantly over the past two decades, from more than 1 billion in 1995 to about 300 million today.
 
Anne Miller
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Today 12/11/16, we had two days of weather below freezing, not a hard freeze.  Most of the milkweed has gone dormant, the firewheels in the back that are sheltered from the wind are still doing great, the one by the Monarch Garden look sad and so does the sage.  I had to trim the purslane in the hanging baskets, and one in the planters.  The sweet alyssum looks like it is still happy.
 
Anne Miller
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While researching "Edible plants for Butterfly gardens" I found this tidbit of information:

"Not only do the earnest flutterers fly up to 265 miles a day on their trek back to northern climes, but this year they must do so in the face of a number of challenges. ...

Concerns include whether or not milkweed host-plants will be ready for their lepidopteran guests. ...

So if you have an extra patch of dirt, perhaps consider planting some milkweed. In the meantime, you can also help the flitting lovelies by using leftovers to making butterfly food.

Recipe 1
Add fruit that is going bad. Butterflies are particularly fond of sliced, rotting oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, peaches, nectarines apples and bananas. Place on plates and put outside. The mixture can be kept moist by adding water or fruit juice.

Recipe 2
From The Butterfly Garden, by Matthew Tekulsky (Harvard Common Press, 1985) comes this formula which makes use of old bananas and flat beer.

    1 pound sugar
    1 or 2 cans stale beer
    3 mashed overripe banana
    1 cup of molasses or syrup
    1 cup of fruit juice
    1 shot of rum

Mix all ingredients well and paint on trees, fence posts, rocks, or stumps–or simply soak a sponge in the mixture and hang from a tree-limb.

Recipe 3
Master Gardener Bobbie Truell from Texas A & M University recommends this simple alternative food source.

    4 parts water
    1 part granulated sugar

1. Boil the solution for several minutes until sugar is dissolved, and then let cool. Serve the solution in a shallow container with an absorbent material such as paper towels saturated with the sugar solution.

2. Bright yellow and orange kitchen scouring pads may be placed in the solution to attract butterflies and give them a resting place while they drink.

3. Place the feeder among your nectar flowers on a post that's 4-6 inches higher than the tallest blooms. Extra solution can be stored in your refrigerator for up to a week.

making food for struggling monarch butterflies - recipes using your leftovers
 
Anne Miller
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If caterpillars are large, within a few days of pupation, they can be fed alternative food if milkweed can’t be found. We do recommend that everyone who has access to common milkweed prepare for such an emergency by FREEZING LEAVES twice a year, but if one hasn’t prepared ahead of time and leaves aren’t available, what is one to do? Simple! Run, not walk, to the produce stand or grocery store!

Monarch caterpillars will eat butternut squash and a few other raw vegetables.

If you are raising caterpillars indoors and your caterpillars have eaten all the leaves off the stems of a milkweed plant, spearing raw butternut squash chunks on milkweed stems produces less mold and mildew and keeps caterpillars out of their frass. If caterpillars have been feeding from living milkweed plants, this is ideal. If they have been fed milkweed leaves on stems, squash chunks can be speared on the empty stems. If stems are not available, any stick will work fine. Remember – don’t use any type of stick or stem that may have been exposed to pesticide.

Speaking of pesticide, the most dangerous pesticide on vegetables that you may feed to hungry Monarch caterpillars is apt to be on Certified Organic vegetables. WASH the vegetables BEFORE you cut them. Wash and rinse the vegetable and your hands well. Bt is a natural soil dwelling bacteria that is deadly to caterpillars. Organic growers use it for the express purpose to kill caterpillars. When you peel the vegetable, the knife blade can carry Bt bacteria into the flesh of the vegetable.

Most enthusiasts have found most success with butternut squash as a substitute for milkweed leaves. Some of the other vegetables that have successfully been fed to Monarch caterpillars in the last instar (last few days) are cucumber, zucchini, and pumpkin

It is extremely rare for young caterpillars to survive long on vegetables. They do not contain the nutrients necessary for their survival. We recommend feeding vegetables to caterpillars only in emergencies and only in their last instar. Remember, when possible, always freeze milkweed leaves every year just in case you or a friend will need them. When you run out of leaves and can’t find milkweed, it is great to have a bag of frozen leaves in the freezer. Even frozen milkweed leaves are not healthy for young caterpillars. Young caterpillars need fresh milkweed.

Although great in emergencies, it is not healthy for caterpillars. Fresh milkweed is always best. Frozen, thawed milkweed is second best. But no matter whether finished on milkweed or vegetables, watching your Monarch butterfly fly off into the sky is fantastic and worth every worry and stress.

http://www.butterfly-fun-facts.com/raising-butterflies/tips-to-raising-butterfly-caterpillars-indoors/monarch-caterpillars-butternut-squash/
 
Anne Miller
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Last night, 1/28/17, it was 29' when we went to bed so I don't know how cold it got.  A few minutes ago, I was putting coffee ground in the Monarch Garden and noticed that the blue sage has starting to come up.  I walked over to the Autumn Sage and it has leaves too.  I also have Yarrow coming to life.  The agaritas have little brown buds forming.  I hope Mother Nature knows what she is doing.

 
Anne Miller
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2/10/17  We have been having spring like weather, 69 degrees @ abt noon.  The blue sage, yarrow, autumn sage and homey suckle are doing great.  We planted a plum tree last week and onions yesterday.

I have the seeds for the purple coneflower and black eyes susans.  I need to plant something for hummingbird, maybe something red that is a nectar plant.

I found this great List of companion plants From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of companion plants  "Companion plants assist in the growth of others by attracting beneficial insects, repelling pests, or providing nutrients, shade, or support. They can be part of a biological pest control program."

1 Vegetables
2 Fruit
3 Herbs
4 Flowers
5 Other

Here is a list of

List of beneficial weeds 

Categories of beneficial weeds

    2.1 Pest-repellent
    2.2 Edible
    2.3 Habitat for beneficial insects
    2.4 Shelter plants
    2.5 Trap crops
    2.6 Medicinal use
    2.7 Other

I planted Sweet Alyssum and marigold last years to repel aphids.
 
Anne Miller
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2/12/17  Night before last the deer tried tasting our onions.  They ate some green and spit out the rest.  Last night they came back for the broccoli and lettuce.  Most of it was still there so I cut the heads off and brought them in the house.  I told dh to pull the plants and throw them somewhere for the deer.

Hungry deer will eat almost any garden vegetable, but they especially relish sweet corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, green beans, carrots, peas, broccoli, lettuce and greens. They rarely bother onions, leeks or garlic, as well as aromatic herbs, such as thyme, dill and sage. Cucumbers, cantaloupe and watermelon have hard rinds and are usually safe. Deer rarely eat eggplants and chili peppers.
 
Anne Miller
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This list of pest-repelling plants includes plants known for their ability to repel insects, nematodes, and other pests. They may be used in companion planting for pest control in agricultural and garden situations, and in households.

The essential oils of many plants are also well known for their pest-repellent properties. Oils from the families Lamiaceae (mints), Poaceae (true grasses), and Pinaceae (pines) are common insect repellents worldwide.[1]

Plants that can be planted or used fresh to repel pests include:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pest-repelling_plants

Some examples:

chives - repels carrot fly, Japanese beetle, and aphids
French marigold - repels whiteflies, kills nematodes
lavender - repels moths, scorpions, water scorpions, fleas, and flies, including mosquitoes
onion - repels rabbits, the cabbage looper, and the Small White
petunias - repel aphids, tomato hornworm, asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, and squash bugs
spearmint - repels fleas, moths, ants, beetles, rodents, aphids, squash bugs, and the cabbage looper
tansy - repels ants, many beetles and flies, squash bugs, cutworms, Small White, and Cabbage White
thyme - repels cabbage looper, cabbage maggot, corn earworm, whiteflies, tomato hornworm, and Small White
 
Anne Miller
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2/19/17 I have spent the last several days trying to get the Erodium texanum, Texas Stork's bill out of the bed where my Firewheels are planted.  They look like a nice ground cover [like ajuga], unfortunately they have a root much a carrot.  I tried pulling them up without success, digging with a hand spade didn't produce results then I had a brillant idea!  We have some long nail, abt 8" and as big around as a index fingure.  This nail was easy to push into the ground and wiggle around allowing the root to be pulled up.

https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=ERTE13

Texas storks-bill or fillaree is a low-growing plant. Its long-stalked, oval leaves, with three rounded lobes, form an initial rosette close to the ground. From this rosette, horizontal stems extend to 15 in. The purple, five-petaled flowers bloom in clusters of two to three, opening late in the day and closing in the morning, except on cloudy days. Prominent yellow anthers contribute to the showy character.

The blossoms are sensitive to light, opening late in the day and closing in the morning, except when it is cloudy. Beaks on the seed pods resemble storks bills; thus the common name. During low humidity the tip coils, but straightens again when the humidity is high. In this way the seeds are dispersed.

It is considered an herb and a good forage plant.  I have not found that it is specifically edible but its relative, Erodium cicutarium aka as Stork's bill, is.  Stork’s Bill has hairy stems and a basal rosette. The entire plant is edible raw or cooked, and of course as usual, young and tender is better than old and tough. Though in the geranium family when picked young it has a flavor similar to parsley. The entire plant can be used as a green dye

http://www.bio.utexas.edu/courses/bio406d/images/pics/ger/erodium_texanum.htm

http://www.eattheweeds.com/erodium-circutarium-geranium-carolinianum-two-bills-you-want-to-get-2/
 
Anne Miller
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2/28/17 - Planted in pots today: Lemon balm; gazania; black eyed susan and purple coneflower.  Our Turk's cap has started to get leaves.  The Methly plum tree has leaves on it.  I have been seeing birds hopping around, maybe a robin, a yellow one with brown wings and others.

About a week ago I found one of my moss rose pots full of tiny little plants.  I set the purslane pots out where they can get some sun and rain.  Some of the agerita buds have bloom.  I found a huge blue bonnet plant where our driveway meets the drive to the house.  No blooms yet.  I have lots of firewheels coming up in their bed.
 
Anne Miller
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3/3/17 I used this to find data for last years last frost date:

https://www.weather.gov/help-past-weather

Climate and Past Weather pull down tab: Local Data: 1] Preliminary Monthly Climate Data (CF6); 2] Location; 3] Time Frame: Archived Data: 4] View: Go

The last frost for our nearest location was Apr 3, 2016. The March highs ranged from 57 - 86.  I'll be keeping an eye on our two mesquite trees to see when they start leafing out.  So far the temperature drops has not bothered the sage.

Besides the plants I mentioned in my last post we also have early girl tomatoes and brussel sprouts that have sprouted in pots.  Waiting on milkweed and eggplants to sprout.

I have several seed packets waiting to plant outside.

 
Anne Miller
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3/7/17  Last night the deer decided to try eating iris.  They did not like the taste so they spit it out.  Out of 5 plants they pulled up three.  We will plant them in pots for now.  They did eat some of my yarrow.  I had plastic cups around the base [to keep dh from pulling them up as weeds] so they only got what was on the outside of the cups.

So DEER RESISTANT means when deer get tired of eating plantain or what ever else they have been eating, including the corn that we feed them, then they will try other stuff.  If they don't like the taste they just spit it out and leave you with the damage that they did.

The black eyed susan's in pots have sprouted.
 
Casie Becker
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If those are the iris I sent you, they'll probably be just fine now that deer have decided they're unpalatable. I've literally started new patches of these by piling extras in an out of the way corner. As long as you have a good sized chunk of rhizome I wouldn't worry at all.
 
Anne Miller
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Yes, they were the ones you sent.  The leaves are pretty beat up. One plant which they didn't bother has a new leaf coming up.   
 
Anne Miller
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3/14/17  We have honey suckle blooming for the 1st time.  The autumn sage is blooming.

The deer came again last night and tried a bite of blue sage and spit it out.  They pulled up four iris and left the one that has no top but is coming up from the roosts. I talked to DH about putting them in a different place.  We know that once they get established the deer will not pull them up, just taste them and spit them out.

The wild verbena is blooming.  Our two mesquites are getting buds, no leaves yet.

When we went to the store last week the yuccas on the interstate were blooming, they are a different variety from ours.  Ours have no flower stalk yet.
 
Anne Miller
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Lists of deer resistant plants:

https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/dear-deer

Some suggestions:

http://www.gardenguides.com/106946-landscape-plants-deer-not-eat.html
 
Tyler Ludens
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I wonder if you planted a ton of native Canada Onion around your other plants if it would discourage the deer, at least during onion season which is when most other plants are just trying to get started and are the most vulnerable to being destroyed.

 
Anne Miller
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Table 1. Plants and their relative susceptibility to deer browsing.  Often browsed Sometimes browsed Rarely browsed

Table 2. Relative effectiveness of repellents tested on hungry, captive mule deer and elk in Colorado

http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/natural-resources/preventing-deer-damage-6-520/


3/18/17 I am starting everything in paper towels to see if the seeds germinate.
 
Tyler Ludens
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According to that list, deer love onions!  So much for my theory...
 
Anne Miller
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What is on the list is Nodding onion (Allium cernuum), I don't know how it is different.  When the deer raided our garden and got some broccoli, they spit the onions out.  Last summer something liked our onions and ate all of them including a grocery store end that I put in the garden to sprout.  Something also liked the stinky French marigolds.
 
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3/26/17  About 3/20/17 when we went to check the deer feeders, I notice that the live oak trees were losing their leaves. Later that same day I saw that the two mesquite trees had leaves so I checked the oak trees.  They had tiny leaves and little tassel looking things.  For several days the blue sage has buds so they will be blooming soon. I have been transplanting sage that came up as volunteers, the first one got blown away by high winds.

DH has started setting plants out in the garden so I hope we don't get a freeze.  So the eggplants, brussel sprouts and watermelons have new homes.
 
Anne Miller
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
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4/8/17  Just some updates ...   My new herb plants have homes.  Rosemary and the two lavenders are in the Monarch Garden.  They are making friends with the blue sage and yarrow. 

I have about six or seven firewheel plants that come up every year from self seeding. The new medicinal herb bed has the iris and garlic chives that Casie Becker sent me.  I have a patio chair over the iris so that the yearling deer might not say "Look green, yummy".  I have crates that I put over the chives at night.  There is also two baby blue sage and I have five peat pots with purple coneflower to plant when they get a few more leaves.

I have seeds for red sage that I need to plant.  I bought seeds for a red coneflower but the seller had to refund my 99 cents as they never came.

On the back patio I have parsley and lemon balm in hanging baskets and two aloe veras on the work table.

DH's project this year is for an acre of black oil sunflowers which I am putting the seeds down in trenches he dug and then he covers them and drives the mule over the trenches.

I am also working on our wildlife management annual report.
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 730
Location: USDA Zone 8a
48
bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
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4/27/17  I so wish I had a camera so I could post a picture of the garden.  Our daughter is coming Memorial Day weekend so maybe I can talk her into taking a picture and emailing it to me.

The blue sage is mainly the only thing blooming in the original garden.  It looks like the tiny yarrow is about to bloom.  I only have one plant as the other is very sickly, yellow and stunted.  I don't know what is going on with it.

I planted red sage from seeds and have one plant, its very tiny.  DH had two milkweeds come up from seeds I saved and planted indoor several more from the original seed packet. They are very tiny.

The rosemary and lavender all seem happy.

Yesterday, a rabbit got into the fence.  I had a very scared rabbit trying to go through the fence and he finally succeeded.  Only thing I found damaged was a marigold I transplanted. It will live.

The new expanded bed where the firewheels live is starting to take shape.  The firewheels moved themselves to a new location and are happily blooming along with wild verbena that decided they liked my garden.

I have planted 4 purple coneflowers, they are still small and most likely will not bloom this year.  I transplanted three blue sage from volunteers and one is about to bloom.

I planted red sage but something ate the tiny plant. 

The blackeyed susan that I planted inside did not survive DH hiding them behind all his plants and not watering them.  The ones I planted outside have not come up. They will probably be next years project as will be the red sage.  I may put sweet alyssum there since they will not bother DH milkweed.

Iris and chives are doing well. The iris are putting on new leaves though the verdict for the ones mauled badly by the deer is still out.  I might lose two or three.

The big news! I found antelope horn milkweed, Asclepias asperula,  growing on our property!   In the fall before hunting season, I thought I found it though it was not blooming.  It is now blooming and I am hoping to get some seeds. When we went to town it is all along the Ranch Road.

I would like to transplant some though it has a 2 meter taproot and most likely doesn't transplant well. Maybe I can find a tiny plant.

We have lots of wild flowers this year, waves of tiny yellow flowers all over the place, along with the wild sage and verbena.  Cactus is blooming yellow and orange, I don't remember orange before.  Back in the woods there are some barrel cactus that blooms a magenta color but I don't know if they are blooming.

A plant that came from the mystery seeds is blooming this year.  I put an organza bag over one of the spent bloom to save the seeds.  I believe it is Lanceleaf Coreopsis.

 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 730
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
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5/1/17  We watered the sunflowers today.  Dh left some unwatered to see how they react. I think we watered on Thursday last week.  We got some rain but it was only enough to make the temps cooler.  He has 9 rows and thinks there are 60 plants per row. They are Peredovic Sunflowers.
 
Alexandra Clark
Posts: 87
Location: Long Island, NY
10
food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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Hi Anne, I am new to the permies forums, but I just wanted to tell you how lovely it was to read your garden and butterfly diary! I love people who feel the joy of the garden as deeply as I do and you certainly are in love!

I live on Long Island and every summer when we go to the beach, if it is cold or overcast, we have to go into the surf zone and save many monarchs. We hold them in our hands and warm them until they are moving again and set them on half a cherry for moisture and sugar and then off they go. I taught my kids about this when they were little and my mom taught me when I was little. It is just one of the dangers of their migration that we can help with as they fly over parts of the Atlantic to get north.

Around here we go all in for native plants, but I am still waiting for the right milk weed.  I have huge clumps of joe pye weed though which they adore as food sources. I think that would also do well in your garden.

I am going to a native plant sale in a few weeks and will come home with a variety of milk weed for a sunny corner that I just reclaimed from out of control wild raspberry--its all nice and tame and accessible now and around the edges of that will go the milk weed and butterfly weed.

I also have black cherry for the swallow tails and stinging nettles for the admirals. My mom plants parsley specifically for the black swallowtails.

It is just so much fun to be a steward of nature! Alex
 
wayne fajkus
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I found  a dozen or more caterpillars on a single fennel  I planted. This made my day. They are swallowtail butterflies.

I walked my property and found a lot of milkweed. I'll be looking for monarch caterpillars when it's time.

Which leads to my question. When are they in texas?
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
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Alexandra, thanks for sharing your story!

Wayne, I thought I saw one earlier but our milkweed did not come back and our new plants are still tiny.  According to monarch watch they were here in Texas in March.  I have not checked the antelope horn milkweed that I found  growing on our property but plan to do so soon.  The milkweed is in the woods and DH doesn't trust that we might have a hog or other critter hanging around.
 
wayne fajkus
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Based on their cycle, could they have already hatched?
 
Anne Miller
pollinator
Posts: 730
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
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According to monarch watch they have been sighting of larva [caterpillars] mostly around Austin:

https://www.learner.org/jnorth/maps/monarch_larva_spring2017.html

 
Anne Miller
pollinator
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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bee dog food preservation greening the desert hunting toxin-ectomy
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Today, 5/14/17, there is a seed pod on the milkweed in the woods.
 
Casie Becker
gardener
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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forest garden urban
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That tells me I need to go see if I can gather any seed from the wild antelope milkweeds growing on the roadside near here. They're developing new neighborhoods in that area, so if I don't get it this year there's a good chance I've missed my opportunity.

I did think I saw a butterfly that looked like a monarch on one of my salvia bushes earlier this year. I thought I'd misidentified some other kind. I didn't realize they came through here so early.

Planting more milkweed is on my to do list for this year. Unless it's just being really late to the party (which I think it was last year) ours didn't survive the winter either.
 
wayne fajkus
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I've got a mix of flowering milkweed and some with the full horn seed pods. I found some little butterflies on them today. I'm in central tx. Lampasas county.

20170514_131115-640x480.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20170514_131115-640x480.jpg]
 
wayne fajkus
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Here's side by side of flowers and seed pods
20170514_132741-480x640.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20170514_132741-480x640.jpg]
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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forest garden urban
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I used to pick them for wildflower arrangements, both the flowers and the pods. Only a few times, though because my mother got really upset and insisted that those flowers in particular would draw bees into the house. I don't know if that means she thought them more nectar heavy, or if she understood monarchs needed them and was trying to get me to stop picking them. I was also the kid who would bring xmas arrangements, including cedar, to the neighbor who was allergic. Oops.
 
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