A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN, VIDEO

Butterfly gardens needed to bring back declining insect population

For many people, gardeners and nature lovers alike butterflies have been an important part of the outdoor environment we live in.

These mystical creatures fluttering through our gardens have captured the attention of collectors for centuries, spending endless hours studying the growth cycles, flight patterns as well as the patterns on their wings.

In many cultures butterflies have a great deal of symbolism of hope and love as well as rebirth. In recent years the numbers of native butterflies have been decreasing, especially the Monarch butterflies. I wanted to know how home gardeners can help increase the population in our gardens.

I recently caught up with John Dailey of SkyRiver Butterflies at his traveling butterfly exhibit to talk butterfly cultivation. I even had the opportunity to help release a few for the exhibit.

Sky River Butterflies it the largest traveling butterfly exhibit in the world, with about 1,500 to 2,000 butterflies in the exhibit. The main objective is to educate people on their life cycle and how to cultivate more butterflies in our won gardens.

“People have to understand that butterflies are very short-lived creatures. It takes 40 to 60 days from egg to adulthood. Typically they will live from 2-3 days to 2-3 weeks.” They are dependent on their life cycle to reproduce. The opportunities for butterflies to reproduce are decreasing due to the amount of toxins being used in the agriculture industry. The host plants where they need to lay their eggs are not as available as they once were.

The key to bringing back butterflies like the Monarch is the right host plants, according to Dailey. The host plant is the plant to attract the larvae or caterpillars to the garden. For Monarch butterflies it is Asclepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed.

Asclepias incarnata is a herbaceous perennial native to North America found in wet swampy areas. It can survive in a backyard garden as long as the soil doesn’t dry out. The Swallowtail butterflies have a long list of host plants depending upon the species. The Swallowtail caterpillars need pipevine plants.

“Each butterfly has a specific host plant. You want to surround those plants with high nectar plants,” he said. High nectar plants produce sugars that adult butterflies feed from. Studies have been done on to what exactly butterflies are attracted in terms of types of plants and colors. One plant in particular is Gomphrena, commonly known as Globe Amaranth. It is a wild flower that produces lots of nectar that attracts all butterflies. Plants like Dahlias are another great nectar plant. You want to look for plants with flowers that have a short neck, making feeding easier for the butterfly.

“Monarch populations used to be measured in billions, now it is measured in millions,” stressed Dailey. By adding a few simple native plants to our gardens we can help restore those numbers.

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

The Perfect Plant

Studies show there are many benefits to having indoor foliage plants, whether it’s at the office or at home. These benefits include removing harmful pollutants from the air to boosting your overall mood.  Here is an easy to follow guide for finding the right plant for your home or workspace.

For More Tips and Tricks On Houseplants Click: http://gardensonthego.com/adirtygirlsgarden/ http://gardensonthego.com/garden-minute-bring-your-garden-indoors/ http://gardensonthego.com/how-to-grow-happy-and-healthy-houseplants/

A little green goes a long way: Plants perfect for your officeA little green goes a long way: Plants perfect for your officeInfographic by Quill

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

Easy Tips For Repotting Houseplants

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Easy step by step tips on how to repot your houseplants

There are many benefits to transplanting your indoor plants. One very important benefit is, all plants need adequate room for their roots to spread and grow.  The roots become constricted leaving no of room for new growth.  Roots begin to wrap around the ball of the plant and eventually inhibit new and lush green foliage. Healthy roots on the bottom mean a healthy plant on the top.

If you are not sure if your plants need to be repotted pot bound they dry out extremely quickly.  Here is a simple checklist.

  1. Plant has inability to hold water. Are you frequently watering everyday and does the water run through the pot in a single stream?
  2. Yellowing Foliage.
  3. Soil looking old, dry or moldy.
  4. Root system is tightly wrapping around the ball of the plant.
  5. Roots are starting to grow out of the drainage hole of pot.

Now is the perfect time to assess the overall health of your houseplants. Transplant any plant that has been in the same pot for more than one year. I Always recommend upgrading pot approximately two sizes larger than the size it is currently in.

Don’t forget to keep turning plants three quarters each week to ensure even growth. Begin fertilizer schedule, once a week.

 

Here are a few quick tips for transplanting houseplants:

1.) Choose a pot two sizes larger than the size the plant is in. Make sure to choose a pot with a drainage whole.

2.) Select a potting soil with good drainage suitable for indoor plants.  #3 chinese evergreen

 

 

 

 

 

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3.)Remove plant from pot and loosen the roots.  Make sure the roots are not wound tight in a ball.

 

 

 

 

4.) Place plant into new container and fill with soil. Be sure to leave a 1/4″ at the top to allow for watering. If pot is to full water will overflow out of pot.

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5.) Finally, water plant in. Wait 10 to 14 days before you begin fertilizing with a 15-15-15 water-soluble fertilizer.

For more Information on houseplants and indoor gardening go to:  http://gardensonthego.com/top-5-flowering-houseplants

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN, inthegarden, VIDEO

In the Garden: Howell Living History Farm

Howell Living History Farm is a place frozen in time that transports you to an era of farming from 1890 to 1910, when life was slower paced and living off of what nature had to offer made good sense.

The farm is situated on 130 acres of land in Hopewell Township, Mercer County, New Jersey. It is owned and operated by the Mercer County Parks Commission, acquired in 1974 by the county from the farm’s owner, Ines Howell.

She along with her husband purchased the farm to be their home upon retirement. Growing up on a local farm herself Howell realized the importance of farming practices. She later donated the farm to the county, and in a letter she stated her hopes that someone would take care of it in the way it was intended.

While at the farm I sat down with the Director of Operations Pete Watson to talk about the history and mission of the farm.

“There was electricity already in the cities, gas powered engines were beginning to appear, the Sears catalog and Montgomery Ward catalog, so it was a moment of change,” said Watson.

The farm is open all year, because as Watson states, “farming is an all year operation.”

Over 65,000 visitors come to the farm, about a third are children who come and get taste of what farm life is really like.

In fact when you come to the farm expect to take on a few chores. All season long you can come to the farm and take part in various activities. During winter the Howell farm was known as The Ice Farm. Folks would buy ice there to keep their milk cold on the way to the local train stop near by. You can see all the tools and technology necessary to harvest ice during that time.

Another popular attraction is to tap the maple trees to make maple syrup in February. While I was there they had no problem putting me to work tapping the maple trees for the sugar sap. In spring and summer you can help out planting crops, like potatoes and corn as well as shearing the sheep to spin the wool.

It is definitely worth a visit to see The Howell Living History farm. It is a window to farming practices of yesterday can be applied today. “You can watch it, photograph it or become a part of it. Whatever makes you happy,” offered Watson.

A DIRTY GIRL'S GARDEN

March Gardening To Do List

crocusSpring arrives March 20, it is time to get out and garden!  Here is what you need to do to get ready!

1) Check houseplants for insects.  Take a thorough look at the leaves for any sticky residue, or any discoloration on the leaves from scale, mealy bugs and mites.  Control with Insecticidal soap or a pyrethrum based pesticide.

2) Rotate houseplants a 1/4 turn each week and mist 2-3 timer per week.

3) Start feeding houseplants, weekly with a 10-15-10 fertilizer.

4) Prune Fruit Trees, if you have not already. Apply Horticultural Oil to control pre-emerging insects before the first sign of leaf growth appears.

5) March 17, time to plant your peas.

6) Plant cool season vegetables, like lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, spinach, and arugula.

7)  Mulch strawberries with straw.

8) Dig and Divide perennials

9)  Apply a pre-emergent herbicide, Step 1 to control crab grass.