Greetings from Zone 2… I mean 1

Hi again, sorry but last week I found that I was a little distracted.  I was running around doing the things I usually do, but I never found the way to my computer.  I was also doing some research for my book but not really writing.  I did at least finish my own Fall scarf with the knit two, purl two technique (yes I am a boring knitter). But now I’m back and I have things to talk about.

Two weekends ago Honey and I put in the Fall garden.

Fall Garden

No really, we put in around 40 plants. Doesn’t look it?

Fine, here’s this week’s progress…

Peas

We planted carrots, radishes, kale, three types of lettuce, collards, arugula, and peas. We also put some mums in pots.  Pretty soon all of the fall colors will be fading to browns and bare trees and I need some pops of colors. I am also putting in some more pansies because they seem to be the only thing that lives all year round here (unless the deer decide to have a midnight snack).

Potted Plants

I like the Fall garden because after a certain point it goes on auto-pilot.  Right now I have to water pretty regularly, but as time progresses the weather will cool down and not as much water will be needed.  With the weather this summer I had to water pretty much everyday (by hose).  It is also much more pleasant to water in the Fall as oppose to the summer.  The sun, the bugs, the heat, the sweating from just standing there…I don’t miss it.

Last week I also help put in seeds for the Farm’s Fall Garden. We put in the lettuces and kale, but also lots of root vegetables.  We also moved their greenhouse closer to the house so Viv can keep in a eye on the seedlings.  She was telling me about Zones in permaculture and how it translates to our everyday life.  Zone One is the path you walk all the time, kitchen, driveway, bathroom, bedroom the things that will get the most attention because you see it the most often.  The Greenhouse used be more in Zone 2 or 3, but now it is right next to the house and she’ll see it whenever she comes home.

This got me thinking about the Zones in my house.  Like I mentioned my office is the furthest room from the stairs and off in it’s little world down the hall, which is awesome but can also lead to neglect.  Because unless I have the intention to come in here it can be very easy to not to.  So I have decided to start keeping all of my teas in here, because in addition to it being knitting season it is also tea season.  It may be in Zone 2 of the house, but if you put your only method of caffeination in that room it immediately upgrades to a Zone 1 if not 0. 😉

Dylan the Butterfly

One afternoon a few weeks back when our dill was tall and seed bearing, my husband noticed that the plants had some new tenants.

Eastern Black Swallowtail

We had two Eastern Swallowtail caterpillars happily munching down on the plants.  We had already taken our seeds for next year and they weren’t going after our vegetables so we let them be.  Besides who doesn’t like butterflies hanging around?  We planned to keep on eye on them and hopefully get to watch their different stages of development.

Fast forward to the next morning…We were sitting in the kitchen, eating breakfast, drinking our caffeinated beverage when something caught Honey’s eye.  It was a cardinal-and he too was watching the dill plants with a great deal of interest.  Before my husband could get the sentence out of mouth, the cardinal pulled one of the caterpillars off the dill and chomped it up.  Being no stranger to walking out into the backyard in my pajamas and shooing away various unpleasing creatures (usually squirrels stealing from the bird feeder and one time a snake) I leapt up and ran to the dill plant to see if the other caterpillar had survived.  He/she had.  

Standing there for protection I could see the cardinal was still standing by, waiting for his second breakfast.  This would be a good time to mention our’s and practically the whole neighborhood’s bird feeders were full.  I was depriving him of a filet-type meal, but there were enough worms and seeds to keep this cardinal’s belly full.  I realized I couldn’t stand there forever and so my husband suggested we bring him in.  We cut part of the parent plant (and a few more blooms) and set the caterpillar up on my office bookcase.

Dylan on dill 

I sent this picture to my sister Firefly, because our Dad raises butterflies and I thought she might get a kick out it.  She thought it was cool and  asked me what had I named him.  To be honest it had never occurred to me to give this little guy/gal a name.  I had no idea what I was doing and I figured it probably wouldn’t make it to the pupa stage.  I thought about it for a minute and decided to call it Dylan, it was a caterpillar of the dill and I had no idea what its gender was.

A few days went by and it ate everything it could and pooped constantly! We had finally run out of fresh dill plants when Dylan decided to start exploring the rest of my bookcase.  I was worried he was looking for food and I put what small remittence of the dill plant I could find in the ball jar Dylan had been perched on.  That did not entice Dylan back, instead Dylan found a candlestick and slowly crawled up it.  At first I was scared that we had starved it to death, but then I noticed over a few hours that it was beginning to contract and not in a morbid kind of way.

Dylan takes a rest

The next morning we saw that the pupa had began to form and one Home Depot trip later, Dylan was in complete pupa form.  

Dylan in pupa state

In case your wondering that thing beneath the pupa is Dylan’s former head.  I looked it up and people said that was normal.  For ten days after obsessively checking on it a couple times each day (I didn’t want it to get trapped in the house), I discovered one morning that Dylan the Butterfly had woken up. 

Dylan wakes up

I had reached Dylan before he/she could fly, but Dylan could move around very quickly.  So I grabbed an empty trash can and put the entire candle stick in it.  Then I covered it with a piece of paper, telling him with each step that I took to get to the backyard to “stay put”.  I had visions of Dylan making a break for it and Bailey and Hitch finding a brand new toy.

When I made it outside and took off the paper, Dylan hoped right out and onto the cement of our patio.  I figured Dylan was still tired and needed to pump up his wings before he could go start his month of fun.  So I put out my finger and for some reason Dylan latched on.  I put him on a flower that was next to the plant where he was born and took a few pictures before he flew away.

Dylan the ButterflyIt took longer than I expected for Dylan to leave the flower so I got a few chances to check on him.  Each time I worried I had put him in the wrong spot; it was too windy, the flower wouldn’t give him enough nourishment, he was in a spot where a bird would come along and eat him.  But I realized I had to let Dylan figure this out, it was out my hands now.  It had been three hours from when I put him on the flower, but this time when I checked on him, he was gone.  I was a little disappointed not to see him but hoped he was off having some fun.  

Nightly Entertainment

For the last few nights nature has been putting on a bit of show for us.  The night before the last we had a storm with rolling thunder, pouring rain, and lightning.  It did cause some flooding in town, but thankfully according to the news no one was hurt.  The sight was was incredible, the clouds reflected the lightning and bounced around the sky almost constantly.  We turned off the lights in the house (and unplugged the valuables) and just sat and watched the illuminated night sky.  I know for people who have actually grown up with this being the typical spring/summer scenario might find this boring-but we are still very much in awe of of actual weather.

Yesterday the rain came again in the early evening, it was a small storm that delayed an errand or two but mostly just made the hot black asphalt steam after a long hot day.  Once it got dark we heard the typical evening chorus of frogs erupt with a new enthusiasm.  They went on for hours in the creek bed in our yard and even got the toad to sound a bit more perky.  We are not experiencing the cicadas down here, but we are still getting a earful from the local creatures about their happiness of summer evenings.

For a few days now Honey has been watching the yard just after dusk (which is about 9 pm here) to get a glimpse of a lightning bug.  I saw them when I was a kid and visited my relatives in the midwest, but he had never seen one.  Until last night.  We saw one during the frog chorus, it hung around in our yard and even came up to our back porch window.   It was brighter than he expected, he thought they would be a more dull light, like a 35 watt bulb- but ours was more like a 75 watt that flickered on and off.  Since it had been over 20 years since I saw one, I was excited to see it too.

 

The Birds and The Bees (& other insects)

Still enjoying Spring , it seems to have been going on for a while.  I am used to “spring” in East San Diego being a two to three week period in March, you know the calm before the 100 degree days.  But here it is gradual and things don’t all bloom in unison so from week to week the streets look different.  The trees are now overflowing with leaves and most streets have this blanket of shade,  the house is practically dark during the day from all of the trees completely filling in.  My hope is that is the summer I will be very thankful for those shady trees, but in the meantime I realized we need more lamps.  It’s gorgous.

darkyard

With Spring comes the awakening and birth of all kinds of creatures, good and bad.   Though it has not been the bug infested nightmare that I was warned of, we have had a few minor incidents.  First of all there is a bird, an American Robin to be exact who has been messing with us since we first got here.  At first it was only a little crap here or there on the driver’s side door, little petite craps…ones that could be cleaned up with a small damp towel.  But as the Spring has gone on and his or her diet has improved the craps have become a little more troublesome and frequent.  I think that they now qualify as shits.  Most mornings we awake to this:

bird crap

On both the driver and front passenger doors and usually there is one on the side mirrors too.

At first we thought it was a location thing.  We were the new ones and didn’t want to impose on anyone’s turf so we started parking on different parts of the driveway, it didn’t help.  So very much like the ice scrapping Honey had to do daily during the winter, for the Spring he gets out the hose, puts it on the Jet setting and sprays down his car.  If times permits I try to do it while he gets ready for work.  We have to time it perfectly you see, because if I do it too early the bird will actually come back and shit on it again.  Our neighbors must think we are the most anal-rentenitive people, because I’m sure it looks like we are washing the car every morning (sometimes twice) with the hose, squeegee, and wash mitten.  No one else seems to have this problem on our street, the Robin likes just our car.  Yay.

When it started warming up we began sitting out on the back deck, usually with a cocktail.  It was relaxing at first until we heard the buzzing and then saw its source…some big ole carpenter bees.  I was not able to get a picture of one, what with trying to curl up into a fetal position and think of a happy place so my body did not smell of fear! =) But you can google the image if you are not familiar.  I am not allergic to bees, but this was one big ass bee and I figured it would win in a battle of the wills.

It got up right up in our faces, at eye level with what looked like a yellow clown nose-very Gacy-like.  We told him he won and went inside.  Luckily for us we had encountered a male and he is all buzz and no bite (they don’t have stingers) but we found out he and the Mrs. had made a little nest in the frame of the utility door and in valance over the front door.  We told the property manager and someone came out a few days later and took of them and a few spots where we saw carpenter ants.  Carpenter bees and ants do not help you finally build that addition you always dreamed of, they eat up your house (in this case wood siding) to make their nests.

I have trie to live harmoniously with bugs.  I’m the type that escorts non-poisonous spiders and beetles to the garden, if a bee (of average size) buzzes me I back off.  But here, it’s a little different.  The ground is so alive here with creatures (it’s no wonder our Robin is getting so “regular”) and sometimes they find their way in.  Centipedes, millipedes, slugs, various flying beetles, or creatures that I just don’t recognize.  I think that is a cricket, I just don’t know anymore, there are so many.?bug

I’m sure there is an app for that, but in the mean time I have been a very apologetic bug killer.  Except for with the ants, I’m merciless with those guys.