Tuesday, October 29, 2013

End of the season!

Our Library garden is done for the season. All that's left is the mulch we used for pathways and around the plants, a few weeds with seed pods, and the faithful milkweed plant, standing like a sentry over the small field with memories of the monarch who was born on it. We had a great time sharing our garden with the families of Ames, and we hope you had a great time in your garden this year, too!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Our monarch flies away (on Wednesday September 18)--

In his jar on the picnic table at the Library garden

Sitting on a stick, feeling the wind


He flew over and up to a nearby tree, where he hung for quite a while (until we left). You can barely see him hanging like a triangle. Find the end of the leftmost branch. Where that branch meets the leaves of the branch above it, the butterfly is hanging. He's ready to go to Mexico now!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Monarch has emerged!

Wow! We have a Library butterfly! This picture is from 10:30 this morning. (Sorry that it's sideways. The green lid should be on top.) It emerged from its chrysalis around 9:30, and spent the morning pumping fluid from its body to its wings. (See how fat the abdomen is? And how you can still see the empty chrysalis?) At 1:00, it started flapping its wings, drying them out and strengthening them, which will be its afternoon project. I put a little sugar water in a sponge in the bottom, so it may eat, too.

**Between 5 and 5:30 PM today, if all goes well, I'll be releasing him (or her, we're not sure) into the Library garden. They like hot and sunny weather, so today is perfect. Join us if you'd like to! It's in the community garden plot that's 2 blocks south of S. 4th Street and S. Maple Ave.

Curious to know more about monarchs? Check out these links:

(By the way, sharp-eyed readers may notice I moved the jar lid this morning and placed it over a larger vase to give the butterfly more room to flap its wings.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Monarch Soon!

Our caterpillar is on its way to becoming a butterfly! On the left you can see the chrysalis as it was for 12 days--light green with beautiful gold dots. On the right, you can see how much it has changed--see the beautiful black and orange wings peeking through? (Sorry for the sideways pictures.)

Wow! We will probably see our new butterfly tomorrow (Wednesday). We hope to release him into the garden and send him on his way to Mexico. If you'd like to be a part of that, call the Youth Desk at 239.5644 for an update on what time we'll do it.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Our Own Very Hungry Caterpillar!

 A very welcome sight awaited me in our library garden plot on Wednesday morning--a monarch caterpillar, munching on the milkweed plant! You may remember from our earlier posts that the milkweed grew on its own in May, then died from a mole invasion, and then grew back strong and healthy.

Our milkweed now has three fresh stalks and lots of great leaves, so it made a great home for the caterpillar! (Most other milkweed has gone to seed by now. I'm not sure how much difference it makes, other than that ours just looks fresher.)

 By the time I found it, it had already munched through several leaves (as you can see from the picture). It was really large--about as long as my finger and fatter. It was munching furiously when I came and had slowed down by the time I left, so it may be making a chrysalis soon. 

We have been watching our milkweed all summer to see if it would host any monarchs, since milkweed is the only plant monarchs eat and its supply is decreasing in North America. We are thrilled to play temporary host to this little creature! Watch the blog for more updates. (Here's an update!)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Baby Pumpkin

It's getting to be the time of year in the garden where you realize some plants are just not going to make it. We're pretty sure our pumpkin plants are in that category now.

We planted them in our Fairy Tale garden, along with beanstalks for Jack and lots of flowers. We thought Cinderella would appreciate having a coach for the ball. :)

The vines grew well for a while, but there is only one pumpkin--and you can see from the picture that it is pretty small. Even these hot days can't help it catch up! In addition, the leaves are now covered with powdery mildew (click here for more info). At this point, we are considering pulling out the whole plant to keep other vegetables from getting infected. Sometimes that's the hard-knock life of gardening!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


We picked these delicious cucumbers and ate them at our program on Tuesday evening!

Cucumbers (and many other vegetables like summer squash) are often tastier and more tender if they're picked when they are small. But sometimes we don't get out to the garden soon enough, and that's okay too!

We grew our cucumbers on the ground this year since we had so much room in our garden plot. Another option is to place the vines on a trellis of some sort and grow them vertically.