Our Garden Almanac - January 14, 2018 - Winter News

Our Garden Almanac - January 14, 2018 - Winter News

Our Garden Almanac - January 14, 2018 - Winter News

Our garden almanac entries are few and far between, but our philosophy is that if you don't give up and just keep going, eventually you get into the swing of things and when you look back, all those intermittent updates provide some useful reference points.  Anyway, we last checked in in May and now it's just past New Years!  Time flies!

But we're off to a beautiful start for 2018!  So fun in the cold and gloom of January, to go out and pick several head of broccoli, enough rhubarb for three pies, a bucket full of kale, a bucket full of chard, and a bucket full of potatoes and carrots.  Note to self: next time, keep closer track of how long the potatoes have been growing.  One of these plants was older than the other and the patatoes were covered with eyes.

My main goal today, however, was not so much the harvest of food, but to harvest green manure for the compost pile and to mulch the raised beds.  I also wanted to spread peas and oats on the one box that I hadn't cover cropped.  Soon, I will "mow" (meaning hand clip with sheers) the peas and oats in the boxes out on the sidewalk, and add that to the compost pile and as more mulch for the raised beds.  

Next up, I need to fix our teepee, which broke a leg today.  I also want to trim the wysteria arbor while the leaves are off and inspect our frog fountain to see if I can't get it to run more reliably (it's very cranky).  Ingrid also wants us to put a side door on the butterfly nursery, which brings me to the really big news:

Over two years ago, we were given a couple of monarch butterfly caterpillars that we hatched in a little kit that Wyatt had gotten for his birthday.  It was so much fun, Wyatt did his science fair experiment on it.  We learned that their are tagging programs you can participate in where you tag your hatched butterflies before releasing them and then you can track to see if they are found hundreds of miles from your home and you can know exactly where they ended up.  Pretty neat!  So we got excited and built a butterfly nursery on a grand scale and then: no caterpillars.  Not for two years.  Until this week.  This week, off calendar, in the middle of January, our neighbors, Barbara and Carl, reported they had caterpillars and we ended up finding 26!  We currently have seven in crystalis in our nursery and 19 still getting ready.  As they hatch we will release them and share the fun with Wyatt's friends in the neighborhood.

But about the tagging: Turns out the biggest organization only does tagging for Monarchs, which are endangered, in the Eastern United States.  We looked around, talked to a group at the University of Washington and a group in Arizona, and both said we had to contact a group in Cal Poly for our area.  I sat through over an hour of videos, read the website, filled out the online application, and then after investing all that time got the answer: "You've never done it before; therefore you can't do it."  A complete catch-22.  Now I love the idea of encouraging education and having videos and information available through such an organization, but I think this group takes themselves a little too seriously and shoots themselves in the foot by their careless attention to their public interface.  I think their goal is to encourage public participation and nature connections especially among students, but they sure failed to connect with a family that was willing, eager, and ready to work and be careful.  Too bad.

But all that said, the tagging is not the important part.  In our house, we are taking our caterpillar heralds as an announcement that 2018 will be a year of transformation.  May we all find our golden wings and learn to fly!

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Our Garden Almanac - January 14, 2018 - Winter News
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Our Garden Almanac - January 14, 2018 - Winter News

Our garden almanac entries are few and far between, but our philosophy is that if you don't give up and just keep going, eventually you get into the swing of things and when you look back, all those intermittent updates provide some useful reference points.  Anyway, we last checked in in May and now it's just past New Years!  Time flies!

But we're off to a beautiful start for 2018!  So fun in the cold and gloom of January, to go out and pick several head of broccoli, enough rhubarb for three pies, a bucket full of kale, a bucket full of chard, and a bucket full of potatoes and carrots.  Note to self: next time, keep closer track of how long the potatoes have been growing.  One of these plants was older than the other and the patatoes were covered with eyes.

My main goal today, however, was not so much the harvest of food, but to harvest green manure for the compost pile and to mulch the raised beds.  I also wanted to spread peas and oats on the one box that I hadn't cover cropped.  Soon, I will "mow" (meaning hand clip with sheers) the peas and oats in the boxes out on the sidewalk, and add that to the compost pile and as more mulch for the raised beds.  

Next up, I need to fix our teepee, which broke a leg today.  I also want to trim the wysteria arbor while the leaves are off and inspect our frog fountain to see if I can't get it to run more reliably (it's very cranky).  Ingrid also wants us to put a side door on the butterfly nursery, which brings me to the really big news:

Over two years ago, we were given a couple of monarch butterfly caterpillars that we hatched in a little kit that Wyatt had gotten for his birthday.  It was so much fun, Wyatt did his science fair experiment on it.  We learned that their are tagging programs you can participate in where you tag your hatched butterflies before releasing them and then you can track to see if they are found hundreds of miles from your home and you can know exactly where they ended up.  Pretty neat!  So we got excited and built a butterfly nursery on a grand scale and then: no caterpillars.  Not for two years.  Until this week.  This week, off calendar, in the middle of January, our neighbors, Barbara and Carl, reported they had caterpillars and we ended up finding 26!  We currently have seven in crystalis in our nursery and 19 still getting ready.  As they hatch we will release them and share the fun with Wyatt's friends in the neighborhood.

But about the tagging: Turns out the biggest organization only does tagging for Monarchs, which are endangered, in the Eastern United States.  We looked around, talked to a group at the University of Washington and a group in Arizona, and both said we had to contact a group in Cal Poly for our area.  I sat through over an hour of videos, read the website, filled out the online application, and then after investing all that time got the answer: "You've never done it before; therefore you can't do it."  A complete catch-22.  Now I love the idea of encouraging education and having videos and information available through such an organization, but I think this group takes themselves a little too seriously and shoots themselves in the foot by their careless attention to their public interface.  I think their goal is to encourage public participation and nature connections especially among students, but they sure failed to connect with a family that was willing, eager, and ready to work and be careful.  Too bad.

But all that said, the tagging is not the important part.  In our house, we are taking our caterpillar heralds as an announcement that 2018 will be a year of transformation.  May we all find our golden wings and learn to fly!

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