Published May 1, 2009
B3 Demo Garden , RVI
Tags: BBB, garden, Rincon, 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 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.
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.
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