After Listening or While Listening, Go Outside
Season 4, Episode 45, September 14, 2022
(Picture of ‘Bright Eyes’ phlox taken from Dee’s website.)
Once you listen to this week’s episode, you will have a strong desire to spend some time outdoors. That is our secret power this week… making you want to go outside and experience nature in or out of your garden.
Of course, we didn’t plan for this. We didn’t know we had this power, but so much of this episode seems to…
Wait. What? You came here for the information about monarchs that we talked about?
We thought we had magical powers there for a minute.
But perhaps this information about monarchs will empower you to plant some more milkweed in your garden, and that’s enough power for two gardeners like us?
Here’s a rundown of what we learned from a video lecture we watched compliments of the Horticultural Research Institute. Note, the video is no longer available.
The information was presented by Dr. Dan Potter, a recently retired urban landscape entomologist at the University of Kentucky. One of his graduate students did a two-year study on monarchs and milkweed in urban landscapes. Here’s a recap of the key points we took away from this talk.
Plant milkweed. We need 2 billion more stems of milkweed. Urban and suburban gardens may be the monarch butterflies’ last hope as there are fewer places where native milkweed grows in the wild. All hands on deck. Everyone needs to plant milkweed.
Plant milkweed on the edge of the flower bed. In their studies, monarchs tended to visit milkweed plants more when they were planted at the outer edge of a garden bed, set off by mulch. Monarchs are visual searchers and this helps them see the milkweed plants. They also found it helpful if the planting areas provided clear views of the milkweed from the north and the south so the monarchs saw them as they migrated.
Plant tall milkweed. Tall species of milkweed got more visitors and caterpillars than shorter ones. In their studies, swamp, common and showy milkweed plants recruited four times as many monarchs.
Avoid planting tropical milkweed. Tropical milkweed can be bad for many reasons, including flowering longer, which encourages monarchs to hang around too long and become more susceptible to OE. (We can’t pronounce it either.)
Leave monarchs outside. Don’t try to raise monarchs indoors to release later, especially further south. The last generation of monarchs needs to be strong as they migrate to their winter home in Mexico, and often, these indoor-raised monarchs aren’t strong enough. (Note again how this fits in with our theme… go outside!)
Skip the cute butterfly houses and kill European paper wasps. Don’t put up those little butterfly houses with the slits in them. Butterflies do not use them as shelter, but they are a haven for European paper wasps, a predator of monarch caterpillars. We have permission to freely kill European paper wasps.
A few websites Dr. Potter mentioned include Monarch Watch, and Journey North.
And the book he mentioned he likes and recommends is Bees in Your Backyard by Olivia Messinger Carril and Joseph S. Wilson (Amazon Link)
(At some point, I hope Dee writes a blog post with all the above information. Let’s encourage her to do that. Updated 09/19/2022 - Here’s Dee’s monarch post!)
Now on to the rest of our show notes.
If you’re here for the flowers, we talked about stalwart flowers in our gardens, which we’ll have forever, some whether we want them or not. A couple Dee mentioned are all available from American Meadows (and many other sources).
Aster 'Bluebird' (American Meadows has it)
Atomic glass (American Meadows also has it)
Phlox 'Bright Eyes' (American Meadows has it too)
If you’re here for the vegetables, how about that tomato round-up? Some of the tomatoes we mentioned include:
Purple Zebra, an All-America Selections winner for 2022
Missouri Love Apple
Brad’s Atomic Grape
Pink Berkley Tie Dye
Yes, I admit I was too lazy to look up sources for these tomatoes, but you will surely be able to find them. If not, give us a holler. We’ll help you.
And read Epic Tomatoes: How To Select and Grow the Best Varieties of All Time by Craig LeHoullier (Amazon Link) for more information about growing tomatoes in general.
If you’re here for the book reviews, on the bookshelf is Outdoor Kids in an Inside World by Steven Rinella (Amazon Link). There’s just one chapter on gardening, but the entire book will get you to think about how to spend more time outdoors, with or without kids.
You should also check out the 1,000 Hours Outdoors project website for more ideas about going outside more often. Then read Cal Newport's blog post: Whitman in the Knapsack... which serendipitously showed up in my email inbox the morning we recorded this episode. (Thank goodness for auto-correct… what a big long word serendipitously is!)
Our dirt was the monarch information. See above!
Okay, let’s wrap this up with our rabbit holes, both of which lead us to England where the entire world is watching all the events taking place to honor Queen Elizabeth II. Check out What Do We Know About Crop Circles by Ben Hubbard (Amazon Link) for crop circle information.
Made it to the end!
Here’s the usual stuff…
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For more info on Carol and her books, visit her website. Visit her blog May Dreams Gardens.
For more info on Dee and her book, visit her website. Visit her blog Red Dirt Ramblings.
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