Archive | June, 2012

Do we have Question Mark butterflies?

24 Jun

Okay, here’s the not very good pic of the butterfly Dylan found about the time we found the red pupa:


Here’s a pic of the Question Mark butterfly . . . sort of looks like it, but you don’t really see any color on the inside of the moth/butterfly we found, as you would on the Question Mark:


I was wondering if ours might have just been new out of its chrysalis.  In any event, keep an eye out for these butterflies; they are seen up here (Deb has seen them!) — and they have brownish, mottled, undersides, and bright orange upper wings . . .

Thoughts?  If not a Question Mark, what do you think it is?

And given that all our Black Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars seem to have disappeared, they’ve either gone off to hide and form their chrysalises (which is possible, apparently sometimes they leave their host plants to find a good place to pupate), or they got eaten by something.  Maybe next time we should put a plant with them in the butterfly cage . . . .


flea beetle damage to Oriental eggplants

19 Jun

flea beetle damage to Oriental eggplants

Distinctive “shot-hole” pattern. If you have sharp eyes you may see one or more of the tiny pests jumping off the leaf or on the soil. I’ve yet to see them, but I know they’re there.


The tomatoes are beginning to color.

18 Jun

The tomatoes are beginning to color.

Check out the Roma tomatoes (bottom) in the Community Bed. Soon.

Update: OK; my bad. A trick of lighting and inattention on an overcast day. But several of the tomato plants in the Community Bed have set fruit, and that’s something to celebrate.

Caterpillar transfer to other dill plant

17 Jun

Hi all,

Alison, Tom, Katie and I moved the 5 caterpillars from the first dill plant to the other one by the shed.  They do need to be watched closely though… when we first got out there one had found a carrot leaf – they also LOVE them and will eat them all.  They love parsley, too – anyone have a parsley plant they are willing to sacrifice or are able to get one so they don’t go for the carrots?  Last year it seemed they really didn’t want cut parsley, only a live plant.  I predict the dill they are on will only keep them busy for a day or 2 at most.  They should be close to chrysallis stage, then they can go into the butterfly house.  Here they are happily eating on their new spot. 


More caterpillars and caterpillars changing . . .

15 Jun

That’s right, our dill-eating caterpillars have changed, molted apparently:

Audrey’s photo


Abigail’s grandmother’s photo


And we have a blurry photo of our newest caterpillar addition thanks to Denise, what we think are cabbage white butterfly caterpillars:


We moved them into our butterfly “cage” with some temporary food — leftover mustard green bits — until we can find a better host plant than our two remaining, only somewhat healthy broccoli plants.

And, can I just say PULEEZE:  my living in the past with neither smart phone nor data plan is community building!  Just look at all the people I reached out to just to post about our butterflies. . . heartwarming, no?

Black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars . . .

10 Jun

There look to be five of them (as of yesterday ) — tiny, about a cm each — eating our dill.  Check them out:


And compare to the photo and description here.

Do we only have one pot of dill?  Maybe we can try to create a black swallowtail butterfly habitat somewhere?  Thoughts?



A friend of Dennis’ dad, who follows butterflies closely, saw some differences in coloring in our pic and the web pics and said he’d be interested to see what comes out of chrysalises later in the summer:  “I’m inclined to think this is either a newly hatched eastern tiger swallowtail caterpillar, or more likely a giant swallowtail caterpillar,” he writes.  I checked out the pics, though, and I’m not sure . . . check them out for yourself and we can see what comes out!  Perhaps we can take a poll . . .

Strawberry Summer Cake Recipe

5 Jun

As promised (and requested!) – here’s the recipe I used for the cake I made for the harvest party last Sunday:


Strawberry Summer Cake

I am ever-so-slightly on the fence about the sweetness of this cake. I like it, but I wouldn’t hate the batter itself with 2 tablespoons less sugar (i.e. 7/8 cup sugar instead of a whole one). If that’s your inclination, go ahead and dial it back as well. Leave the sugar on top. It contributes to the berries turning into jam.

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate

1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour (can swap 3/4 cup or 94 grams all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup or 75 grams of barley flour, see Note)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup (118 ml) milk

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract

1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (what I used).  This cake does not work in a standard 9-inch pie pan; it will overflow. Big apologies to anyone who learned the hard way! This cake would work, however, in a 9- or 10-inch springform or cake pan. The 10-inch would make a thinner cake than pictured.

Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

Do ahead: Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, but good luck with that.

Pickled Radish recipe (requested by several gardeners)

3 Jun

Refrigerator Pickled Radishes


Radishes (or daikon or small turnips)


per Pint container:

¾ C. water

½ C. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1 T. brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

2 slices fresh ginger

6 black peppercorns

2 whole cloves


Wash radishes, remove greens, and cut into roughly equal-sized pieces.

Pack into jars.


Bring water and all other ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan.

Remove from heat; remove the garlic cloves from the brine.


Pour the rest over the radishes.  Make sure that all the spices get in the jar.

If you’re short of liquid to cover the radishes, add more hot water.


Put top on jar loosely; let cool a bit; tighten top.  Refrigerate.


Let sit in refrigerator for about 3 days before enjoying.

Will keep about a month in the refrigerator.


Note: Use KOSHER salt. If you absolutely must use regular table salt, use ½ tsp. or less.

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