Caring for your pet caterpillar – UPDATE

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I would like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, named by the kids as “Emily”

Now normally these are some critters you want to keep out of your garden but with my kids asking for the “Live Butterfly Garden,” bringing in a caterpillar from inside and putting it into a jar seemed like a much more cost effective option.

Growing up I have caught caterpillars with the great hopes that I would be able to witness its metamorphosis into a butterfly.  Unfortunately, the lack of the internet or a nearby library I never got the knowledge of the particular “butterfly” I caught wouldn’t eat just any leaves I threw in it .  Caterpillars are very picky eaters and each specie only will consume particular types of leaves.

If you found your caterpillar munching on a plant you are in luck and you can just pick a couple leaves a day for your caterpillar.  They will not eat old or dry leaves and must be replaced daily.  In our case our caterpillar was found on a plastic play set, which sort of limited out options.  My girls did pick some leaves of various plants in our yard, and if we are lucky we may find one our caterpillar enjoys.

To improve the odds I was able to identify this caterpillar as a Painted Lady, which enjoys nettles and thistle.  Both of which grow great in my area, though none is growing in my yard (which normally would be a good thing)

This led to a nice walk in the woods to attempt to find some leaves for the caterpillars distinguished palate, unfortunately we did not find any nettles or thistles though came back with a good variety of leaves.

That Butterfly Garden is looking like a bargain at the moment.

UPDATE — May 31, 2008

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We are happy to announce that “Emily” has started has started her transformation into becoming a beautiful butterfly (or moth if my amateur identification is incorrect).  We were successful in finding their favorite food which happened to be the little clovers growing in our back yard.  Definitely a case of good reason to not kill all weeds with pesticides in your yard, by the way the rabbits love the stuff more than my lettuce so added bonus.

As you can see in the background “Emily” has some friends with her (3 total)  though currently unnamed, though I am sure by the time my daughter reads this post she will fix that.

Stay tuned in 7-10 days hopefully we will have a butterfly/moth release.

UPDATE — 06/26/2009

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Well 7-10 days turned into more like 26 days, just when we were thinking the worse, Emily emerged as a beautiful brown moth.

For info on the flight lessons and release, check out this post.

Pea Blossom

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How to make a cheap pea trellis

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This is really two trellises in one.  I started by taking a couple bamboo stakes (reused from a couple of one season too long Halloween scarecrows) and bound them together at the top using some twine.  I then put the ends in the corners of my garden leaning against the cinder blocks surrounding my raised garden.  I following this by adding some twine up the trellis to allow the peas to climb up.

Thing started to get a little crowded so I browed a tip from Martha Stewart, now she recommends black birch branches, but I decided to go with the dead bush I had in my back yard.  I was already chopping it up to compost so saved some of the larger branches, stabbed them in the ground and ala pea trellis.

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Though the two part trellis was more of an accident, in many ways I really like the support of the bamboo along with the abstract reach of the branches.

Winner of $100 Gift Certificate from Home Depot

HD Garden Club

There were so many great entries I couldn’t just pick one and with no budget to select multiple I settled using random.org. 

And the winner is lucky number commenter 33…Chandra.  Please send us a email using the “Contact” link at the top of the page within 72 hours otherwise I will select another random commenter.

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We have partnered with The Home Depot Garden Club to offer a $100 Home Depot Gift certificate to a lucky reader.

To enter the contest is simple, just respond with a comment on how you would spend $100 at Home Depot with a home/gardening project and we will pick our favorite and send you out a gift certificate. 

If you don’t have any ideas, here are some things I would do with the money (unfortunately I am not eligible) that may would help:

  • Create a nice cold frame to extend my growing season
  • Add drip irrigation to my garden which I neglect to water
  • Install a rain barrel (they have complete kits there)
  • New and improved grow box
  • Shelves and lighting for seedlings next season
  • Summer vegetable plants (peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc) for those I was a little too ambitious with earlier this season.

None of these sound good to you?  Feel free to check out some of the DIY Projects at The Home Depot Garden Club or many of their content and tools on their site.

Entry Deadline: 5/21/09 12:00 PM (Pacific)

Mulch your garden with human hair

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Need a renewable mulching source that is completely renewable?  Check your shower drain.

After spending 18 years as a hair stylist, Phil McCrory got an idea. He developed “SmartGrow” – mats woven from human hair. The product is becoming a popular organic alternative to chemical herbicides

If you don’t have the time to collect and weave your own human hair mats you can always purchase one from SmartGrow from under $4.00 to over $15.00 depending on the size you need.

Guest post: Huge strawberry

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I have been pretty busy lately and was happy and honored that Megan from Megan’s Garden would do a guest post about a strawberry she found.

It was a crazy day I found a strawberry, a double strawberry . I am not kidding. A strawberry is not like this. I ate it. It was yummy. Find one in your strawberry box. I want one again.Their hard to find.

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