• 16May

    Update: The clay balls were a disaster. The little cat who must dig in everything scooped them all out and before I knew it, was playing in them as if they were a pile of mice. It was the biggest mess. So back to square one; I guess next I’m going to try a soiI-free pad thing I saw online.

    End of update.

    I had a great day at the organic store and not only got my guano, but I also got some earthworm castings and some little clay balls. Those are some kind of hydroponic thing (so far, every organic store I’ve gone to specializes in hydroponics), but I’m going to use them to grow cat grass. One of our cats gets frantic around any kind of soil or soil-like substance (like coir) and digs like a dog until she’s torn it all up. This is why I can’t have any live, reachable houseplants in the house, and it’s why she can’t go to the basement.

    I just hope she doesn’t think they’re balls to roll on the floor. We’ll see.

    Then while I was out that way, I went to a nursery I’d never visited, and was…disappointed. Big time. They had a nice website, and it looked a lot bigger than it is in person. I may be spoiled by the greenhouse near me that has acres of greenhouses.

    Anyway, this place had a listing of the available plants, and they had good prices it seemed. (And same supplier as “my” greenhouse, but half the price) First off, they *didn’t* have what I wanted, despite having said they have several varieties of a plant I want. Second, the lady I asked barely knew what a petunia was. Seriously, she was NEW to the gardening world. And anyone who might know where certain things were, or if they had them, was either off for the day, or on an errand.

    Third, their Asclepias incarnata plants were infested with aphids. Those little orange buggers were hopping around and having a blast. To be fair, these aphids aren’t a big deal and as far as I know, only go after this plant. If you grow it, you’ll get the aphids; it’s almost a certainty unless you live on Mars.

    On the other hand, all it takes is a blast of the water sprayer to get rid of them. I’ve never had them come back after one squirt. Perhaps it’s not unusual for a nursery to allow aphids on the Asclepias? I’ve never seen it before, but I actually only started growing this variety of Asclepias last year. (Successfully from seed, but this year, my seed didn’t germinate. I do think I have some growing in the ground…I’m not 100 percent sure. Crossing my fingers, though.)

    I got the aphids last year and got excited, thinking they were monarch eggs. They actually look delicious, like caviar. Every time I see a picture of the aphids, I get hungry for some caviar. Is that icky or what?

    But check it out: aphids on the left, salmon caviar on the right. And the aphids don’t always move around. That’s why I thought they were eggs at first.

    Aphids or Caviar?

    Here is Asclepias incarnata in bloom, mid summer:

    Asclepias incarnataAsclepias incarnata

    Filed under: Organic Gardening
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    Posted: May 16, 2008 at 6:28 pm


2 Responses

  • Renee Says:

    The caviar looks gross! How can anyone eat that stuff?

    The pink flowers are gorgeous. How hard are those to grow? Do all butterflies like them?

    I was looking at your photo pages and some of your photography is really beautiful. Are you a professional photographer or something?

    I want to know more about this pink flower!

    Thanks, Renee

  • admin Says:

    Hi Renee,

    Caviar might be an acquired taste. If it’s good quality, it’s yummy.

    The pink is also known as butterfly weed or swamp milkweed. It grows wild throughout most of the US. I don’t know where you live, but if you have access to open prairies, you might be able to find some. It doesn’t always transplant well, though; it has a very long taproot. But, many nurseries carry it. There are a lot of varieties of the butterfly weed; this one is also called Cinderella, and it’s the host for the monarch caterpillar. You need a fairly sunny spot for it, but it doesn’t take a lot of care once it’s established. In summer, look on the plant and you should see a number of caterpillars munching on it – those will turn into monarchs. Then you’ll see monarchs on it all the time. I’ve seen various swallowtails, too, but I grow an entire butterfly garden.

    I’m not a professional photographer, but I did take a class in journalism school on photojournalism. That’s when I got interested in photography as a hobby, and then took some classes on the side at university. I spent a ton of money on good equipment – before the days of digital – and it was sitting in a box.

    I wasn’t happy with the quality of my digital pictures (the majority in the galleries are digital), and last summer, dusted off my old equipment and started shooting with film again. The quality is a million times better and I plan to shoot more film this season.

    I’ll still do digital because it’s so convenient, but there’s just something special about film. I’m even thinking about digging out my old darkroom equipment and setting up a darkroom in the basement.

    Thanks for your kind comments.


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