What Caught My Eye: Misplaced Monarchs and Collapsing Ecosystems

It’s a cold and gray day here in Cincinnati. After a lovely breakfast with a great friend, I headed outside to fill up the bird feeders, pull up more tomato plants, check my fall crops, and do a few other garden chores.

But I’ve spent most of the day inside, reading and catching up on blog posts and other articles I’ve been meaning to read. Here are a few interesting articles that caught my eye:

Misplaced monarchs: Clusters of butterflies stuck up north | Phys.org

Have you heard about this large population of Monarch butterflies that should be in Mexico by now? They’re not really misplaced; they’re just in the wrong place. It’s an interesting situation and this article provides a lot of great information about what may be happening.

A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans | The Guardian

I can’t say the title of this article surprised me. But the stats (staggering numbers) in the article are eye-opening. I like to give humans the benefit of the doubt but it’s hard at times.

Why Insect Gardens Are About to Become the Biggest Trend in Landscaping | Country Living

Gardens should be all-inclusive, too. I’m all for spotting bees and butterflies in the garden. But I also check the garden for spiders, green lacewings, lady bugs, and other beneficial insects. Check in with me next spring and I’ll let you know how my insect garden plans are shaping up. Because I need yet one more garden project (that’s sarcasm, folks).

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Almost Wordless Wednesday: Seeing Double Double

Last Saturday, I was in the garden when I spotted these migrating Monarchs. The weather was warm (mid 70s) and sunny—one of those days that feels more like early summer than fall.

I spent a long time watching them and taking pictures. Here are three of my favorites.

Two Monarchs on White Butterfly Bush

I know summer can’t last forever and the bees and butterflies won’t visit again until next year. I’m both fortunate and grateful to have my own piece of paradise that attracts them—and I certainly work hard to create a great garden for all animals, even the chipmunks who think they’re entitled to my tomatoes! But, man, I’m feeling very melancholy with the passing of the seasons this year.

Need a little pick me up?

I’ve hummed this song almost non-stop since Saturday!


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Sunday Snippets: Goodbye Summer?

It’s a glorious and warm fall day here in Cincinnati.

As nice as the weather has been, I’m pretty sure our extended summer is coming to an end this week—the weather forecast includes rain and temps in the 50s and 60s.

So, I spent quite a bit of time cleaning up the vegetable garden this weekend. I also harvested the last round of tomatoes, found a few squash hiding in the vines, and divided and moved some perennials.

Finally, I sowed wildflower seeds in a new spot that my husband may or may not know about. It will be a spring surprise for him; we have a large back yard and he will be happy having less grass to cut. Win/win!

When I was clearing out the new spot, I noticed this Wooly Bear caterpillar. My sister and I loved playing with them when we were kids. This guy was lucky because I only took a picture. From what I remember, that much orange means we’re in for a mild winter. Time will tell.

Learn More

  • Wooly Bear and Woolybear are both correct
  • Wooly Bear caterpillars are Isabella tiger moth larvae
  • The Woolybear Festival is held annually in Vermillion, Ohio and celebrated 45 years (!!) in 2017
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Planting Shallots in Grow Bags

I love cooking with shallots because my husband isn’t a fan of onions, I generally only cook for the two of us, and we both like the milder flavor.

Shallots that you buy at the grocery or farmer’s market are so expensive.

So, I started growing shallots about 4 years ago. Can you say “money saver”? They’re super easy to grow and cost-effective (if you set aside 9 or so bulbs for the next round of planting).

Shallots can be picky about soil—they definitely like a light, well-draining soil. I usually grow shallots in one of my raised beds. However, this year I decided to use grow bags for fall-planted shallots. 

I have successfully grown Egyptian Walking onions, fingerling potatoes, and all kinds of peppers in grow bags and I’m relatively sure shallots will grow well in them, too.

This picture isn’t very exciting. But check back in the spring to see how my fall-planted shallot harvest turns out!

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My Week In Pictures

Some of the week’s highlights.

1. I plant marigolds every year because I actually like them. And the bees ignore them every year until early fall.

2. Today’s harvest. Definitely the last of the Christmas lima beans (I’m leaving any stragglers to dry on the vine so I can try this Christmas Lima Bean Salad). I made another jar of pickled green tomatoes with the tomatoes, dill, and my favorite Chinese 5 Color pepper. I’m also pretty sure that’s the last cucumber of 2017!

3. I planted a couple Geranium ‘Rozanne’ plants in late September. With the weather we’ve been having here in Cincinnati (not very fall-like yet), this plant decided to bloom. Love the purple!

4. The butterfly bush and zinnias have been keeping the bees and butterflies buzzing in the garden the last few weeks. I’ve spotted a few migrating Monarch butterflies, lots of Painted Lady butterflies, and countless bees.

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Sunday Snippets: Hello October

Not too long ago, I was wondering what happened to August. And here we are in October! I’m still harvesting tomatoes, squash, lima beans, bush green beans, and a rogue cucumber or two.

Oh, and tomatillos. I’ll let you in on a secret—I don’t really like tomatillos but I grow them because bees LOVE the flowers. In addition, I’ve started harvesting some cool season crops including lettuce, radishes, turnips, and bok choy.

Today’s harvest included lots of juicy tomatoes along with a few tomatillos and turnips.

October 1 Harvest | Horseradish & Honey

While I’m sort of ready to put the garden to bed, I’m grateful that it keeps going. Just check out these zinnias and salvia!

Zinnias and Salvia | Horseradish & Honey

But I know I need to stay on top of harvesting and other tasks. Where to start? Instead of reinventing the wheel, I follow this great advice from Tenth Acre Farm: In the garden | What to do in October.

I planted twelve new milkweed plants in the garden today. Why? Because I feel strongly that we all need to do our part to help.

Finally, my brother and his lovely fiancée are getting married in just about a month. I try to wear gloves when I garden but I really don’t like them. I’m hoping a good nail tech can work some magic but I may be the person at the wedding with dirt under my nails!

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