Although it won’t be official until mid-March, when the Mexican government releases the winter’s population count, ‘unofficial’ reports are anticipating a rather small migrating population. These unofficial reports are coming from the El Rosario Sanctuary in Mexico (see video example from 2016 at the end of this post); a site that can sometimes be the winter home for over 50% of the entire monarch population in Mexico. Reports and photos show butterflies densely covering approximately 18 trees. That’s good news, but last year, reports were that 50 trees were covered.
That’s not good news, but it is a call to action: PLANT MORE MILKWEED!
We’ve written a lot about pollinators, monarchs, and natives. We think that they are really important, so forgive any redundancy! A few things to keep in mind:
- All Milkweed plants are Asclepias
- Milkweed is the required host plant for monarch butterflies
- Any loss in the population of milkweed means the loss of the monarch population
- We are losing both at an alarming rate
- The biggest threats come from urban development and agricultural intensification
As much as I love growing herbs, I really love talking about them. And, believe it or not, I get lots of nice invitations from lots of nice folks who don’t mind listening to me ramble for an hour or two. My last show was for a group of truly dedicated gardeners at the Williamsburg Botanical Garden. So, if you remember your American history classes, right around my farm is the birthplace of our nation. Jamestown! We even have a little competition going on about the site of the first Thanksgiving; in theses parts, we claim it was at Berkeley Plantation, a mere 20 miles down the road. But, I digress…
Bottom line: if you are speaking to a group of gardeners in Williamsburg, you better be prepared to toss in a bit of history so here goes; as the early settlers began to colonize these shores, herbs were among the most important cargo. Herbs for healing, herbs to improve the flavor a what would be considered a very bland diet, and herbs to disguise the smells that were a part of poor sanitation as well as spoilage. Herbs were vital to the establishment of a thriving colony. (more…)
Whether you are suffering the effects of this current Arctic Blast or wintering is South Florida (lucky you), most of us are feeling the effects of winter on our skin. Dry, chafing, itchy skin that looks nothing like those hand models on TV. Here is a quick and easy way to use herbs to relieve and revive, as well as use those herbs that you grew all spring and summer. If you don’t have any on hand, a quick trip to the your local health food store may provide all you need! (more…)
There is nothing better on a cold winter night than to light a fire, open a bottle of a nice deep, dark red wine, slice up a warm loaf of crusty bread and dip into a hearty bowl of Savory Beef Stew.
A few words before you begin:
Start Early – although it is possible to overcook this stew, I’d count on at least 2 ½ hours to make sure that your beef gets to that ‘shredded stage’. I’m using our own grass fed beef with not a lot of fat, so slow and low simmering works best for me.
The Right Pot – use a good old fashioned Dutch Oven or treat yourself to a Le Creuset Casserole. Honestly, I got mine at a deep discount at Home Goods and it’s gotten more use than my car!
Herbs – herbs and more herbs – fresh is best, but if you are cooking this in the deep dark days of winter and the garden is a memory, used dried. I can’t stand to see folks waste their good $4 on a clamshell of half dead ‘fresh herbs’! (more…)
Just got back from a ‘Bucket List’ trip to Maui – 10 nights, 11 days exploring paradise with my family. Did I mention that we totally skipped the whole holiday thing? No tree, no lights, no stockings and no annual Christmas Party! Still got some of that in Hawaii, but honestly, I didn’t have to lift a finger, much less the 10’ Fraser Fir.
So, what they say is true: Hawaii is paradise. The Leis covered with orchid blooms, gorgeous purple/white dendrobium blooms hanging around your neck. Water, water everywhere – and torrential downpours at night followed by awe-inspiring sunrises and garden awaking lush and flush from their soaking the night before. No sprinklers needed at this time of year. Green, green and more green with punches of color everywhere. Fruits, flowers and herbs – passion fruit, star fruit, cherimoya, breadfruit, pineapple, bananas. Farmer’s Markets bursting with so many wild and wonderful offerings – fresh cut coconuts complete with a straw. (more…)
Humans are a fickle bunch, and try as I might, they are hard to figure. Say one thing, mean another. Say one thing, find out it wasn’t true. Commit to one thing, then change courses. Not saying I’m any different, but the dependability of nature (well maybe not weather) is something that brings me a lot of comfort. Cycles that repeat; you sort of come to depend on them. Geese come south, geese go north. Jenny wrens nesting in the same clay pots they used the year before. My mother in law’s daffodils emerging in late February, as they have been since she planted 30+ years ago. Even the sturgeon have decided the river is clean enough to make a comeback. We brought them to the brink of extinction, then we decided to bring them back. See what I mean? Fickle.
Well there is one cycle that is truly a wonder: the migration of the monarch. Their life cycle is equally awe inspiring but let’s focus on this trip! There are so many wondrous aspects of this flight, described as ‘epic’, so let’s start with this:
The monarch migration is the longest known insect migration on earth.
Chew on this: a monarch can leave Nova Scotia, Canada and travel to the mountains west of Mexico City, which works out to somewhere around 3,000 miles. A butterfly, mind you. Miracle? (more…)