Archive for the 'B3 Demo Garden' Category

Rincon Vitova is busy as a bee

I wrote a few months ago about the activity at RVI, when everything was all a-buzz with the beginning of spring. Now, here we are in late September, and I just overheard someone say, “Phew, too much going on!” And, it’s true. Our clients’ agricultural seasons have been peaking, and so has our production and supply; new customers are calling every day, and, still, there is so much else going on. There is a push to finish construction on a new on-site solar hydronic heating system, and a collaborative project with our neighbors to grade and pave our road and install more parking for visitors, continuing renovation of a caretaker residence that will accommodate summer entomology interns, ongoing landscaping, manufacturing improvements to the D-Vac vacuum insect net accessories, e-newsletter production, a website overhaul with the addition of on-line shopping, and the distribution of the new expanded and reorganized edition of the Catalog of Beneficials. So, with all of that going on, and more coming down the track, it’s not surprising that an occasional “Phew!” is heard, even out of Jan or Ron. While working here through seasonal changes is sometimes hectic, there is a dedication amongst the staff that continues to invigorate our work. We personally support the same ideas and perspectives that draw our customers to us in the first place, i.e., we are ecologically-minded individuals, working to better the planet. We are fortunate to help farmers and gardeners all over the world to develop new perspective, IPM strategies, and ecologically positive alternatives to using noxious chemicals and other environmentally degrading practices. Similar to the famous sentiments of teacher and astronaut Christa McAuliffe, who said, “I touch the future…I teach,” working with RVI clients allows each of us to touch the future of our environment, and that, too, invigorates our dedication. Reminding ourselves of that along with the occasional “Phew!” keeps us on track through all the changes a-buzz. Posted by Duke

RVI and BBB All A-Buzz with Spring

Too much going on! Between spring being sprung and populations of everything increasing, including unwelcome weedy plant species in the BBB garden, RVI is buzzing with a hive-like energy. Of course, maybe I see it as hive-like because Ron and I are moving a beehive onto the farm. Resident beneficial insect populations at RVI are also on the rise and so are customer phone calls and orders. Dozens of other things keep popping up at RVI, all needing attention: finishing the new catalog, finish up website renewal, building, improving and expanding! It really is amazing all the work that goes on behind the scenes and the brainpower constantly in use here at the RVI offices.

Our latest outside project is preparing some test plots where a variety of insect attracting flora blends will be planted, e.g., a low mix, a standard height mix, an interflora mix, as well as a little gopher stopper clover. All these mixes are available from Rincon-Vitova for habitat enhancement for beneficials.

The mixes will be planted adjacent to the BBB garden, so as Spring turns to early Summer there should be a veritable bouquet or beneficial insect banquet growing out there. We’ll be sure to post some pictures, too. As for the BBB garden, while it had been a little low-key for a while, it is starting to brighten up a bit with more color and blossoms again. The Milkweed, in particular, is starting to show some new blossoms as well and is putting on a few more leaves to its near bare stems and a few new shoots have popped up.

I’ve seen a couple of Monarchs here and there and a number of Painted Lady butterflies lately, so all the butterflies and beneficial insect populations are increasing as the BBB garden plants surge towards summer’s life.  There’s a surge here both inside and out and RVI is a-buzzin!

BBB Seasonal Seesaw

BBB Garden—Seasonal Seesaw Urgency

It’s just past February—Winter in the nation’s southwest coastal zone. The BBB garden has been dry for a while now and blossoming less. There are bare stems and browning leaves here and there. No snow, ice, or hail like the rest of the nation, the BBB garden has been sitting through days and weeks of clear blue skies and dry winds.

Drought tolerant, beneficial insect attracting plants holding to gray, dry and dusty soil, the BBB garden appears to be holding its breath right now and waiting for the invigoration of Spring.
At last, a steady light rain has come—cool, cleansing, refreshing rain that the BBB garden soil drinks greedily into its top layer.

Underneath the moistened, black, top-layer of moist soil, the dryness of Southern California’s drought continues its hold— although we’re getting a couple of inches of rain in February, we’ll only be up to about 70-80% normal rainfall for this area.
So there’s a kind of a seasonal seesaw effect going on in the BBB garden. You can see and sense winter’s dormancy and spring’s urgency all at the same time.

Now, with the rain, the ground is black and wet but still gray and dry at the same time in different places and depths. Some of the plants are nearly bare of leaves, while others are holding on to a few bright flowers. The milkweed still looks pretty bare—just like the monarchs left it in my last post Greek Monarchs.

A little bit barren with just a bit of bloom—the BBB garden is hanging in there, and I’m sure some beneficials are keeping an eye on it just like we are—waiting on the urgency of spring.

Greek Monarchs

The Greek symbol of Ouroboros—the snake eating its own tail—is said to be a symbol of eternal return or regeneration. I couldn’t help but think about that symbol when I saw what the Monarch butterfly caterpillars had done to their Milkweed host in the BBB garden: They ate it up, or at least chewed it down to the stems—the very plant they depend on for survival and regeneration!! Of course, there are a few green stems left indicating that, ultimately, the plant will likely regenerate like the butterfly, too.

ourobus1

It seems ironic, though, that the Monarch is dependent, in order to regenerate, upon the very bush that it consumes, almost, entirely. The problem, here, is I’m not sure if our wandering caterpillars ate themselves completely out of house and home, because I haven’t seen any chrysalidies (chrysilis: butterfly; cocoon: moth) in the BBB garden. There’s a well chewed Milkweed bush left behind and one or two caterpillars still, but not a chrysilis to be seen. Hmmm…I’ll have to do a bit more research on these guys to try to track em down. I have some information that says these caterpillars can apparently crawl 30 – 40 feet away to find a safe spot to pupate   –end- November 08 Duke

 

Holy Caterpillar

October 30 2008
Wow! Holy-caterpillar!

Yellowish-green and black and white striped, kind of plump and two to three inches long, the Monarch butterfly caterpillars just jumped out at me as I took a quick peek into the Butterfly, Bee and Beneficials (B3) garden. Well, I mean the caterpillars didn’t really jump out at me; in fact, the insects attracted to the B3 garden are by and large all safe, but the Monarch caterpillar’s colors did jump right out of the B3 garden plants.

The brilliant contrast of colors between the bright red and yellow Milkweed blossoms and the colorfully striped Monarch caterpillar—beautiful!

See link to caterpillar and B3 garden pictures here. It’s really a double bonus when you see the beauty of these plants adding color to a garden or yard, while at the same time feeling good that you’ve been providing essential habitat for beneficial insects like the Monarch caterpillar and others. –end— Dec 08 Duke

First Monarch!

On September 20, 2008, the first Monarch visited our Asclepias (milkweed) or Butterfly Weed in the B3 Garden (Beneficials, Butterflies and Bees).

The Butterfly Weed was planted by Daniel in January 2008. Duke and Gianna helped put down cardboard sheet mulch for weed control before planting. A weed problem started anyway at the Butterfly Weed and moved past the adjacent creeping Ceanothus. Kikuyugrass got established in a planting hole. It has exploded in the beneficial insect habitat.

Don’t miss it!

Friday September 19th 2008

Just in case you’ve missed it, Rincon-Vitova Insectaries of Ventura California has put in a sample Butterfly, Bee and Beneficial Insect Garden (B3 Garden). It is on the west side of the Ventura bike trail right alongside the Ventura River. It’s easy to miss, even when you work at the site like I do.

Obviously, the B3 garden is there to attract butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects. The B3 has drought tolerant plants with an increasing diversity of six-legged visitors, but it should attract you too.


Most of the plants are labeled and there is additional information posted about garden management. During daylight hours, folks are always welcome to take a closer at the garden in order to spot butterflies and beneficial wasps and flies.

Aside from all that, it’s just a nice little stop off the bike trail amongst an array of flowering plants. –end- Dec 08 Duke



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