Thursday, June 22, 2017

Putting An Ecosystem Back Together = Diverse Life = Endless Inspiration

Friends, it's so wild and crazy here in many ways (plant nursery, vegetable garden, homesteading projects, soil consulting, etc.) and is why I've not taken time to sit down and write, but what's important to share is the multitudinous life now calling this 3.5 acres home.

We logically comprehend what happens when an ecosystem that grew together for millenia is put back together, but to witness it happen - so quickly - is way beyond what we expected and even dreamed. Here's a quick glimpse at some very recent sightings, all on this little patch of ground we call home with a backlog of videos tucked in here and there.

Happy Summer!

Golden-backed Snipe Flies on woodland/grassland trail:

Bristly Cutworm Moth found under some pots I used:

Gray Treefrog on Cup Plant:

Carolina Buckthorn in bloom:

Monarch Caterpillar on Common Milkweed:

American Bullfrog:

American Toads:

Painted Turtle:

Crazy-colored Green Frog:

Twelve-spotted Skimmer:

Staghorn Sumac in full bloom (a pollinator favorite, for sure):

Foxglove Beardtongue in full bloom (another pollinator favorite):

Dogwood in bloom (ID confirmation as soon as it sets fruit) with Spring Azure nectaring:


American Woodcock juvenile (we flushed Mama on our nature trail and found this little fluff ball):

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar (2nd/3rd instar) on Tulip Poplar:

Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar (5th instar) on Tulip Poplar:

American Carrion Beetle and Garden Carrion Beetle on dead Garter Snake (from our basement...poor bugger):

We seek wilderness like fish to water because it's our heart and we love to venture out into this big, beautiful world, but find creating wilderness on our homeland makes access a little easier and a lot more frequent. 😃

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Cover Cropping Tomatoes plus a Stream Video

Late last summer we sowed Crimson Clover as a cover crop for the soil over the winter and this spring it bloomed offering great nectar to oodles of bees.

We don't till here nor do much to the soil other than add organic matter whenever we can. We also mulch our plants so this year we thought we would combine the efforts.

I pulled apart little gaps in the crimson clover for easy planting and dug in to find fantastic soil thanks to the plant roots and all the invertebrates hard at work. (I had to dig so carefully there were so many critters!)

I planted our peppers directly into crimson clover that I cut off with hand trimmers:

When I got to planting the tomatoes though, I thought I would try just laying flat the crimson clover and swirling it around the tomatoes and it was so much easier. It also still allowed the crimson clover to hold their blooms offering nectar to pollinators.

We are now several weeks into this mulch and it is fantastic! The peppers and tomatoes are growing and the clover is going to seed so I imagine it will self sow and we may have a self perpetuating cover crop for our Solanaceae. We will keep you posted, but so far this technique is a winner.

P.S. For those of you interested in our native plant nursery, the plant babies are growing and many will be ready soon. I will do a nursery update here, on our website and via our email list as soon as we are open. It's our favorite time of year. 😄

P.P.S Steve made a video of our little stream restoration at The Common Milkweed and it's pretty cool!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

A Few Moths Who Live at Our Place

Watching the wildlife return to our 3.5 acres as we plant natives, leave downed leaves in plant beds and stop mowing different areas is seriously mind-boggling. This process is so fundamentally simple and so rich in its rewards. Here's a few adult moths we admired and observed here this past week.

Lunate Zale on bird house:
(larval host plants: trees and woody plants, including apple, cherry, oak, plum and willow; all these grow here)

Many-Lined Carpet (& Harvestman) on firewood:
(larval host plant: willow herb; stopping mowing brought willow herb back on its own)

Pearly Wood-Nymph on Cup Plant:
(larval host plants: evening primrose, grape, hibiscus, Virginia creeper; all these except hibiscus grow here)

Mottled Grass-Veneer on Wild Bergamot:
(larval host plants: grasses; definitely have these growing here)

Lettered Fan-Foot on front window just this morning:
(larval host plants: dead leaves of deciduous trees; in all our plant beds and returning woodlands)

It is so exciting to get up each morning, grab a cup of coffee and head out the door to see who else calls this land home!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Making a Courtyard

Our creative inspirations often arise out of something else we want to do. In this case, it's the desire to build an aviary off of our chicken coop so that meant the cool, old, salvaged fence around the coop needed to go elsewhere.

We chose our front yard for this special fence so we can make a courtyard for privacy and because we love secret nooks - who doesn't?! We chose some rough cut boards for our end caps around our porch, which we scored at an auction a couple of years ago.

This old path is now shut down and there is already a great patch of Common Milkweed filling in the gap. With this path shut down, our courtyard will actually feel "courtyardy" very soon. The ability for plants to populate bare soil in one season is seriously remarkable.

Here's a view North of the fence, which will also help keep our path open to walking and not just the flopping of plants after a heavy wind or rain. (We really, really adore the wildness of these plants so it's just about making them fit in a way that works for them and us.)

Steve's super charming gate made the move from the coop too.

We love the feel of this fence here already and the chickens think it's cool as well. 😍

Under the canoe is their favorite dust bathing area; You can spy Eby if you look closely.

View of our courtyard from the South. In a months time these plants will be in bloom and huge and we are so excited!

Our inside plants are already outside and are loving the rainwater, fresh air and sunshine; they said enough with the indoors.

The indoor plants - outside, and the chickens pecking about and exploring makes this courtyard feel charming already.

Take a tour via You Tube here.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Forest Immersion at Southern Ohio's Splendid Tar Hollow State Forest

By Steve:

We hiked at Tar Hollow State Park in hilly southern Ohio recently and were treated to not only some great migrating warbler sightings but to some darn fine forest scenery. Our souls thrive on forest-immersion! Get into the woods if you can. If not, you can use our pics for cyber forest immersion right now:

Blue skies, hills and trees - that's art!

One of our favorite orchids: Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens): 

Christmas fern (top) and Maiden-hair fern:

Towering Tulip Poplars (Liriodendron tulipifera):

Happy Hikers:

We named these trees the "hall of giants." Mainly White Oak (Quercus alba):

This one catches the eye! Fire Pink (Silene virginica):

Enjoy your own forest (or prairie, or wetland, etc.) immersion soon. 😊