Monday, March 25, 2013

Raising Caterpillars

Swallowtail Caterpillar
I am so proud of my two beautiful friends Arielle and Missy for immediately heeding the call to help the Monarchs by planting milkweed! My butterfly heroes! Between the three of us - we have made mini butterfly way stations from Austin to San Antonio. Did you have a chance to put milkweed in your yard yet? Please tell us!

We all used tropical milkweed and/or butterfly weed in our gardens. Catherine noted on my last post that some native milkweed varieties can take over a whole section of your yard so be sure to research what variety will work best for you. Tropical and Swamp Milkweed should stay put where you plant them. The Texas Butterfly Ranch Website has lots of good advice.

The Dirtiest Kids also noticed a ton of swallowtail butterflies on our wimpy dill plant so we added a new giant dill to our garden and moved our caterpillar friends on to it. This new dill plant just so happens to live in our butterfly watching habitat so we will get to see the chrysalis transformation again.

"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." -Nathaniel Hawthorne

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What can we do to help the Monarch Butterflies?

Our New Butterfly Garden

Before Shot: Can you see butterfly garden potential in this hell strip?

 Did you see the article in the New York Times about the Monarch Butterfly migration?  Basically, the drought, GMO's, pesticides, and early heat waves have crushed the population of Monarchs. I wrote about this when we were watching for the migration in October and the data is now out to (sadly) prove us right. If the population shrinks much more, they may not be able to recover even if the environment and our behavior changes.

"The area of forest occupied by the butterflies, once as high at 50 acres, dwindled to 2.94 acres in the annual census conducted in December" - New York Times, March 13, 2013. You can read the whole article here if you missed it.

What can we do? We all have a part to play. Texas is an especially important area for the migration- so my Texas gardeners can step up. If you want to do one thing to help: You can plant milk weed. Monarchs need milk weed to lay their eggs. Milk weed has been destroyed by pesticide spraying over GMO corn and soy bean fields. There is some controversy over the non-native tropical milk weed often sold in nursery's. I think we should plant natives when we can. I especially love Native American Seed Company for all your Texas native seed needs. I could write a whole post about their Thunder Turf (And I will!) But I feel like butterflies will choose the best plant available to lay their eggs on and if they are choosing your tropical milk weed- it is better than not having any usable plant at all. On that note, the best time to plant wildflowers is in the fall here in Texas but the next best time is March. The butterflies will be flying back through Texas in the last few weeks of March and beginning of April.

1. Look for native Milk Weed and purchase it. Plant it at your house, the vacant lot, your community garden, your sister's house, the hell strip by your street, your lake get the idea. Here's a good run down on good types for various gardens. 
2. Settle for non-native tropical milk weed and plant it on your apartment balcony, container garden, backyard.  It's really pretty!
3. Set aside a little corner of your yard to make a butterfly garden- plant milk weed, butterfly bush, rue, parsley, dill...let's help all of our butterfly buddies.
4. Use organic gardening methods. Avoid Pesticides use on your garden and yard.
5. Buy organic produce to support organic farmers in the migration path.
Our painted rocks that we will add to our garden when they are dry. Note: Faeries also welcome

Happy Butterfly Gardening Texas!

Friday, March 8, 2013


As the days get warmer- and yes, the high was in the 90's one day this week- greens will start turning bitter. It is easy to grow microgreens all year. This is also a great option if you don't have a lot of space or are renting. You can grow microgreens on a balcony or a tiny garden. Microgreens are just the sprouts of regular plants.

 For example- these are butter lettuce seeds we planted. Normally, you would want to space butter lettuce farther apart and let them grow to a full head to harvest once. In this method you can pack them into a pot or small area in the garden. Then you cut off the tops and make a delicious microgreen salad and the plants will regrow, wash, rinse, repeat. You can get quite a few harvests with this method. You can also carefully pull out a few to transplant in your garden if you want to grow the full plant. Happy Greens!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Memories of S. Flores

So the Green Restaurant at S. Flores is shutting down and relocating to The Pearl Brewery. It was a lovely place and I hope another green friendly business will move in to take over one of my favorite gardens. Let's check it out one last time. Garden by The Kitchen Gardener.


Farewell Green on Flores! We had some good times. I'm still somewhat skeptical that tofu will take over like wildfire though...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Green Restaurant at the Pearl Brewery

 So Green has officially moved! I heard they had over 1,000 customers on Sunday, the opening day at The Pearl. I promised to update you on their garden progress. Here is their new garden by The Kitchen Gardener.
Fruit Trees


Herb Garden

Here is how it looked in stage one and two.

Stop by and see it in person! Hot tip: Try a veggie burger. I lived off of the green burger when I was pregnant with dirtiest kid in the world # 1.