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Species Tulips


For a long time I thought I was a tulip failure. Despite my best efforts the bulbs I planted would flower beautifully the first year and then dwindle until I had only a handful of blooms from 100’s of  supposedly perennial bulbs. It turns out that while tulips are technically a perennial the modern hybrid types aren’t actually very good at it. Some do better than others but if you want years of blooms from a singly planting you should look elsewhere.

Get the basics on Species Tulips
 But I didn’t want to look elsewhere. I wanted tulips and I wanted them to come back year after year (imagine lots of foot stomping and door slamming here). Then I stumbled across species tulips when I was making my Van Engelen order this year. You might remember them as the company that saved my wedding . I picked up 100 of their species tulip mix for my front garden to replace the defunct Appledoorn tulips. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about these pretty spring bloomers.

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Black Swallowtail Caterpillars


I was feeling bad about my front flower garden. It’s a mess of weeds, especially on the end where I expanded the bed around the random dirt mound that’s been there since we moved in. I try to pull the tall, obvious ones from time to time just so it doesn’t look quite so messy. I was pulling out hand fulls of ironweed when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks.

Black Swallowtail Caterpillars in the Garden

The Queen Anne’s lace was decorated with vibrant, practically neon caterpillars. I counted 5 but I’m sure there were more I didn’t see. I went back this morning to show my husband and this little guy had finished up that entire flower head and was on to another in less than 18 hours! [Read more…]

10 Uncommon Bulbs to Plant in the Fall


With cool weather approaching it’s time to start thinking about bulbs to plant in the fall. There’s an endless variety of  bulbs available in stores and online but you’ll get a better selection from specialty internet stores.  I’m sure you’re all familiar with tulips, daffodils, crocuses and hyacinths, but there is no reason to stop there! The world of bulbs is full of spring and early summer color ready to be added to your landscape.

10 Uncommon Bulbs to Plant in the Fall | Chicken Scratch NY
I’m not calling them uncommon because they’re hard to find, in fact most of them can be easily found online. But you likely won’t see them in the stores and they probably weren’t on your list to plant in the coming months. Chances are good you’ll find at least one you haven’t heard of!
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Saffron Prep – The Bed


We’re trying Saffron again! The first round was a few years ago and it didn’t survive the chickens. I ordered 100 saffron crocus bulbs from Fedco, the ordering deadline is August 15th so hurry up if you’re in the market for some!

This time we’re planting it in it’s very own bed that’ll be over-planted with direct seeded annuals during the summer. Saffron crocuses bloom in the fall and the whole show takes place September-November. The bulbs are set for delivery after Labor day so the bed will be empty until then and leaving soil open is never a good plan so we’ll be filling in with a cover crop for now. The crocus won’t mind and a frost killed annual is the perfect bedfellow. No digging means no viciously murdering disturbing the bulbs with a shovel.

4x4 Perenial Veggie Beds
The box is 4×4 and will be placed next to the other 4×4 boxes we have set up for perennials in the vegetable garden. In the far corner of the garden I have a large L-shaped bed of asparagus, a 4×4 currently planted with leeks (it was strawberries but they didn’t survive the neglect, next year it will be horseradish), another 4×4 with Jerusalem artichokes and finally the new bed.  You can see the JA behind Alfie and the new bed behind that one. This one will have 1/2 hardware cloth across the bottom, the others don’t. It’s basically a giant version of the DIY Compost Sifter so I won’t rehash those instructions. [Read more…]

Tomato Cage Caterpillar House


DIY Tomato Cage Caterpillar House

A few years ago my sister and her friend went to camp a came home with a box full of Monarch caterpillars. We raised them in a large tub covered with bug net, filling it up with fresh milkweed everyday until they formed dozens of chrysalises (I had to look that one up, thought it might my chrysali but it’s not) and finally turned into a whole flock of monarch butterflies. We released them all after their wings has hardened and let me you, being surrounded by a swarm of dozens of fluttering monarchs is beyond words. The tub worked but since you had to remove the top it got tricky once they started pupating.  [Read more…]