01/02/2023 pots and pets outdoors

After last year’s failed veggie seedlings due to root rot and damping off fungus, I drilled 4-5 big holes in all the pots.
I am hoping to start a lot in the yogurt containers and build up the soil around the stems, reducing the amount of repotting for the plants that can root from the stem like peppers and tomatoes and their relatives.
Briar was bored while we did the annual pruning of the dwarf fruit trees.
Shackleton got a leash walk all around the backyard (he’s exploring the prairie here) AND the front yard. Wow!

12/2022 backlog of infrastructure and little babies

Yesterday, 12/31, I finally glued on the rain barrel cap holders that the Chef 3D printed for me! I used epoxy after cleaning both surfaces with ethanol.
Paula got solar powered outdoor lights for Christmas and has used them to make the path to the compost visible! Edit: thanks to Mom for inquiring if we can turn the lights out. Yes we can! It’s important not to pollute the dark with more light than we use at any given moment.
I am hoping these tiny seedlings are the annual bluets that sometimes grow in this part of the yard. Keeping an eye on them.
A tinier potential annual bluet seedling next to the comparatively large wild geraniums. These two pictures were 12/31/2022.
12/28/2022, the Ratibida columnifera rosettes survived the big cold!
Two Verbena halei rosettes also exist and made it!
Finally, and very thrilling, two potential Penstemon oklahomensis seedlings! They don’t appear to be hairy leaves like some other common seedling volunteers. Stay tuned.
Shackleton enjoyed a leashed walk in the same excellent 12/28 weather.
Jeanne kindly sent us some Salaginella riddellii- Riddell’s Spike-Moss. We put the biggest chunk in the rainbow garden (in green of course) on 12/25.
We put a smaller piece of the spike moss in the cactus planter.
12/25 was so nice we also moved some volunteers. This is the big root of a poke berry! We moved those along the back fence where another pokeberry lives. We also moved several ampelopsis from random spots in the yard to along the south fence trellis.
A blackjack oak acorn with a sprout on it! We planted this exciting find (12/24) into a pot on 12/25. Fingers crossed for a spring sprout.
Judy gave us an adorable toad house! I have placed it near the veggie beds. Please come eat our earwigs, toad friends.
12/24 checking the pot containing Sedum nutallii from Jeanne. The sedums seem to have made it along with Verbena rosettes (V. Halei??) and other intriguing volunteers.
Going somewhere! Wow!! Happy briar in the car.
On 12/24 we visited the lake at Lexington WMA. This seasonal creek was frozen solid! The lake was too. Briar wears her hunter orange.
After the deep freeze, only the top tips of the recently transplanted rosemary got frozen. They were pressed down by the sheets. But the sheets protected the rest of the plant!

12/21/2022 solstice chill

My Persian friends celebrate Yaldā today, a holiday for the longest, darkest night of the year. Appropriately, tonight the temperature is plunging from the 40s F into the teens and single digits and we won’t unfreeze until probably Sunday!

No insulating blanket of snow is forecast (maybe just a few light flurries), so I moved a bunch of leaves from the patio onto the herb bed to especially protect my oregano and chives, which had a very rough time last winter. I put extra greenhouse plastic over it.
The finished covering.
I tucked the extra plastic around our cactus planter with more leaves, and piled some leaves on the containers with native plant seedlings in them. I suspect they will be fine but containers are not as protected as they would naturally be on the ground.

12/10/2022 finally turning

The greens are doing well.
Seedlings are in the raised bed but I’m not sure what they are. Hoping for field violets?
The apple trees still are mostly green but one pear tree is turning. The three pictures below of leaves turning yellow and orange are from the one pear tree in front.
Later we walked the dog at Saxon park. Lots of rabbit’s tobacco sprouting.

11/16/2022 a previous frost

Away from the shelter of the oak tree, lots of plants are getting frost, including the wine cups we grew from seed and planted last spring.
The rosettes will stay green all winter, I believe. They show off the frost beautifully as it avoids the veins, creating a pattern of frost with greener veins.
The frost hasn’t killed the apple leaves yet either.
Another apple tree with light frost.

11/12/2022 frosty

Marigolds are done. Photo by Paula.
Winecup rosettes are fine for the winter! Photo also by Paula.
We went to look at Saxon park.
It was fun.
Then we went home. Having dog thoughts in the backyard.
Catctus
Tom kha (Thai coconut chicken soup). Has garden lemongrass in it. Lemongrass is not frost hardy so Paula divided the stems to keep a few indoors over the winter, and froze a bunch of stems to use.

10/09/2022 Saxon park

Schinia gaurae moth (the clouded crimson) caterpillar on false gaura! We counted nine around our 1.75 mi loop.
The tall rosettes of the false gaura were nice to see since they look just like my garden one.
A Schinia moth I haven’t identified feeding on aster flowers.
This bumblebee loved the Salvia azurea.
Back of two spotted bumblebee where you can see the spots!
Funnel web spider says no pictures, please.
A tree cricket hiding on Liatris.
The seed pod of a Baptisia. Mom said possibly B. australis var. minor
Paula found two big beautiful lynx spider mommas! Wow! This is one guarding its egg sac.
A tiny caterpillar on false gaura.
The first Solomon’s seal I’ve seen in the wild! We have several in the yard but no idea if they’re volunteers or planted.
Probably a buckwheat, the botany consulting committee says.
Abby, Mom, and Jeanne also agreed this was probably a dwarf lead plant.
Paula found a magnificent sumac leaf turning yellow to red.
The Sumac is really turning beautiful reds all over!

09/24/2022 seedlings and fall flowers

Wild tepary bean has a flower!
Mystery seedling. I put a lot out here of many species so it gets to be a surprise unless someone recognizes it.
I suspect this is an Illinois bundleflower as I distributed a lot of them.
The big leafy seedling looks neat and is accompanied by a spotted euphorbia and maybe a blurry lyre leaf sage?
An almost metallic little moth on the goldenrod from Abby (probably S. canadensis). Mom saw a similar one recently at home on frostweed.
Possibly a Ceratina bee on the mistflowers.

07/27/2022

All the basil, five varieties. The Chef has committed to pesto tonight.
The green striped cushaw squash just gets noticeably bigger every day!

06/28/2022

The accidental shot of the week. I didn’t notice this bee kicking a wasp off its foot until I looked at the photo later!
The bumblebee is feeding on Echinacea purpurea.
Front of the bumblebee face is yellow.
A zoomed in shot. The short overall hairs, all yellow on thorax and head, smoky dark wings, and minimal color on abdomen have led me to think it may be Bombus griseocollis, the brown-belted bumblebee. I have entered the sighting and photos on Bumble Bee Watch’s community science website where they can verify or correct this identification. This would be our fourth bumblebee species for the yard if I have identified it correctly. 🤞🤞
I found a second partridge pea plant blooming in the “prairie”!
An all orangish solider beetle on a Rudbeckia flower.
Shackleton the cat enjoyed hiding in brown crinkly paper. He has such big eyes!
Paula is experimenting with kombucha fermentation thanks to a culture from Abby. This is the first sample and contains a garden strawberry for added flavor. It was good!
Briar helps us observe bees out front. I’ll do a separate post with evening bees if any pics turned out.
A baby moon and stars watermelon!!
A baby praying mantis on the mint!
Paula and I weeded the orange and red section of the rainbow garden. It has a lot of invasive grass in it.