Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stemler Cave Woods Nature Preserve Big Burn

Volunteers and state staff burned approximately 75 acres on Saturday March 18th. It was a slow burn, but overall a good one.
Starting at the SE corner of the burn unit
 Along the N border

 Where the two fires met in the middle
of the N border

We saw a Barred Owl flush from the area, as well as a Red Bat. I found a Blackberry Seed Gall for the first time. From "Naturally Curious with Mary Holland" I learned, "Galls, abnormal plants growths caused by many agents including insects, are formed during the growing season on the buds, leaves, roots and branches of plants as a response to chemicals or physical irritation. These galls serve as shelters and a source of food for their inhabitants. Blackberry is host to numerous gall-making insects, including mites, midges and gall wasps, and their temporary homes (galls) are more obvious now that Blackberries have lost their leaves. The Blackberry Seed Gall is caused by a cynipid gall wasp, Diastrophus cuscutaeformis. This wasp gets its species name from the resemblance of the galls it forms to the fruit of Dodder or Cuscuta, a parasitic plant. A cluster of small, globular, seed-like galls within which the gall wasp larvae live are pressed together in a lump surrounding the cane. Each of these 1/10th-inch diameter chambers bears a spine, and together they create a reddish-brown hairy mass."
 Blackberry Seed Gall (Above)
Warty Leaf Beetle (below) mimic caterpillar poop
 One of the many kinds of True Bugs I saw that day.

I saw this plant frequently and while it looked familiar I couldn't place it. Eventually I found the answer and the basal leaves (1st year of growth) are very different looking from the upper growth (year 2), which maybe threw me off. This is a common native species, Stickseed, Hackelia virginiana.

Done with Fire Season for Spring 2017
Wish I could have burned my prairie, but 
the weather wasn't in favor. The plants greened up
early with the warmer than average (record warmth) January/February.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Winter-Spring Break

It was spring. And then it was winter. And today spring is back. 

Hey, look! It's Spring!
(Before spring break)
 Hey, look! It's winter. 
(During "spring break")
 Just shoot me.
I guess I will recover. 

What's going on with the natives
Clove Currant
 Scarlet Honeysuckle
 Jacob's Ladder

Under lights
Celery & Caraway
 yarrow, blanketflower, coneflower, daisies
 perpetual chard
 March 2: mater seedlings up
This season I've been using an NK biodegradable
10-packs to start a lot of seedlings in. I've found them 
at Rural King and Dollar General. 50 cells for $3.
I originally got them because I thought it would be the easiest
solution to planting perennials in the hellstrip beds and then
decided to use them for the tomatoes as well. 

About the Yawd
East border hedge

 I liked this one. Yellow as yolk.
 I also like the cyclamen types- they are 
like shooting stars and especially nice
when they bob in the wind.
 More cyclamen types
 A peach blossom I suspect didn't make it through
the freeze. 
Three new beds for 2017:

 Good Lawd! That one hurts.
 Kitchen garden raised beds
 Purple Sweet Potato starts

Foodie stuff
Crispy Cauliflower Tostadas
 Falafel and Sweet Potato Kibbeh
Faux Chicken Noodle Soup

Side notes:
What baby Oyster Mushrooms look like:
From a kit

Critter closing
Tess, Beatrix & Urey
patiently wait for the return of spring

Monday, February 27, 2017

Spring in February

The last two weeks have had most days with highs in the 70s and two record days at 75 and 78 (I think). Sat and Sun turned cold again with lows below freezing and daytime highs in the 40s. This coming week is suppose to be 60-70s again. Yesterday I heard the weather guy say, welcome to the new norm. We can expect our seasons to be more southerly in nature. This is both nice and not nice. I like snow, but I like to garden, but moreover I DO NOT like nature messing with nature. To counter this human  undoing I am expanding my knowledge and gardens to help the wee ones in need (insects, plants, etc). 

Spring Clean up
By February 16th I already had the prairie and northerly beds cleaned up and asked the local rock guy if he would open up early to allow me a load of rock to finish the path around 2016's bed. He told me spring hours begin March 1. Nature does not abide by those dates and so neither do I. Rock guy was nice and sold me a load early. : ) Thank you, Moore's. 

Prairie clippings in a pile to be burned. This is also
the site of where I want a permanent fire pit. 

On Feb 23, you can see how quickly the daffodils popped up
and started to bloom! 

 Feb 23 I topped the asparagus and blueberry beds off with 
new compost from St Louis Composting (Black Gold). 
The levels had gotten low on both and I had a weed problem in the 
asparagus bed (Devil's Walking Stick, Ground Ivy and Bermuda grass).
With downed branches I started a set of new
beds in the front lawn. In this bed I will have natives for
wet-moist soil. In the center is Clematis crispa. Bea is 

Basement Gardening
Expanding nature includes my city garden- hellstrip garden project. I started these seedlings for those beds:
 Blanketflower (above)
Shasta Daisy (below)
 Yarrow (below)
I also have Purple Coneflower started. I will have about 45 of each plant
I moved all of the greens outdoors, because the aphids had gotten bad and the weather had gotten nice. 

I started my tomato seeds on Thursday, February 23. 

In Bloom
Tommies Crocus
 Blooming this weekend Feb 25, 2017
Maple's in bloom

First Daffodil (2-21-17)

Other Feb 21 happenings: 
 Roses leafing out
 Hyacinth (above)
 Tulips (above)
 Kale (above) from Oct planting
Below: planted lettuce & braising mix
Saw some seeds up this morning (2/27)

Since Friday February 24:
 Manchurian Apricot in bloom (made it through the
cold this weekend- although it doesn't fruit anyway- it's still
food for the bees)
 Ruby (above) is breaking out of jail again.
The female squirrel who entertained me this winter
and tore my office screen built a nest outside of my office

Smokey taking in the nice weather.

That's what is going on at Foggy Bottom.