Monthly Archives: August 2011

Hurricane prep

All predictions have hurricane Irene hitting Connecticut sometime after midnight Saturday. The past few days have been filled with preparations of one sort or another. Of course, we stored away outdoor furniture, wind chimes, the gas grill, and garden ornamentation that would blow in high winds, tools, and the many potted plants around the house. Some plants went into the garage, some went under the deck, and some came inside. We moved the biggest potted plants against a retaining wall and hope this will give them some protection or at least keep them from blowing around. It’s hard to predict what winds up to 75 mph will do to such things.

I harvested as many veggies as possible. Many will get eaten during the next few days. The hot peppers, however, had to be canned. And since I had so many green tomatoes I canned green tomato relish.  The cucumbers I bought at a farm stand on Wednesday had to become pickles and relish. I was not going to let the fantastic basil growing in the gardens get battered by hurricane winds …half of it is now pesto, some went to a neighbor, and some is sitting in a vase in water waiting for me to get to it another day. The ton of peaches picked during Wednesday’s farm visit are now sliced and stored in the freezer.


All the hydrangeas are cut and resting safely in vases all around the house and other blossoms are cut and in water. I figure I’ll want something to do to keep my mind off the wind and rain expected to stay with us for most of tomorrow. What better activity than arranging bouquets of flowers from the garden?

Irene is acting much like a previous hurricane – Gloria – that hit CT in 1985. We lost power for six days. Irene is following the same track, but is larger and expected to stay for a longer visit. We have a generator, but if you don’t see any posts from me for the next week, blame Irene. Living in the woods, hurricane force winds, driving rains and electrical wires don’t always get along well.

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Small wonders in the garden

Sometimes colors and interest in the garden are provided by the smallest of creatures. It’s easy to miss these tiny wonders of nature unless you take time to really look at the life that occurs in the tight and smaller spaces of a garden that has never been inundated by herbicides and pesticides. The longer my gardens are in place, the more I find these everyday, but spectacular, creatures. For this post, photos speak louder than words.

A grasshopper breaking out …




A Black and Yellow Arigope aurantia, aka orb-weaver because of the tell-tale zig-zag design of the web.




A Black Swallowtail caterpillar eating one of its favorite foods, Queen Anne Lace. The caterpillar is as beautiful as the butterfly.



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Newsy Notes: Plant Pathogens, Butterflies, Invasive Plant Spread

Newsy Notes features quick explanations of research related to the  growing of plants. I come across this research during my daily sweep of plant-related information. I found the items noted below of particular interest. Follow the links for more in depth reading on each topic. The following were all published by ScienceDaily.

E. coli, Salmonella may lurk in unwashable places in produce:

Washing fruits and vegetables may not remove E. coli or Salmonella, report Purdue University researchers. After developing a method to look at pathogens in nutrient-transporting plant tissue they found E. coli in mung bean sprouts and Salmonella in peanut seedlings after the seeds of each had been contaminated with the pathogens prior to planting. Proper washing removes dangerous pathogens from the outside of food, but heating to a specific temperature is needed to remove them from inside tissues. This, of course, does not occur with fruits and vegetables consumed raw such as salad greens and bean sprouts. The next research step is to try and determine how the pathogens survive inside plant tissues, which may lead to methods of eradication.

Major breakthrough on how viruses infect plants:

Cucumber mosaic virus causes disease by directly matching a host plant gene associated with chlorophyll formation, found plant scientists with The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency. Like a zipper, one side of the gene – the virus side – directly matches the host plant gene. When scientists altered the host plant’s genetic make up so it carried both copies, rather than one copy, of the chlorophyll forming gene the virus could not attack. With this knowledge, scientists can now search for genes in plant viruses that match plants’ known genetic sequences in an effort to find ways to stop disease spread.

How butterflies copy their neighbors to fool birds:

Butterflies are truly amazing creatures. They migrate thousands of miles as part of their life-cycle and delight humans with their flittering and colors. Here’s another amazing butterfly fact … they can change wing patterns to fool birds, report researchers who studied wing color patterns of an Amazon butterfly species. Gene analyses in these butterflies showed they carry three versions of the chromosome that controls wing patterns. Butterflies, and apparently moths, alter wing patterns to make them less attractive to their specific predators. Fascinating!

Rural road maintenance may accidentally push spread of invasive plants:

When you think about this it’s a no-brainer, but how many have actually considered that maintenance of a road bed in rural areas, such as grading work, can spread roadside invasive plants? Apparently it can, shows a computer simulation model developed by  researchers at Penn State. They input field experiment data from spring road re-grading into their computer model to determine how this work might spread Japanese stilt grass. Though most of the sterile seeds used in their model remained within about 164 feet (50 meters) of their original location, a small percentage of seed moved more than 820 feet (250 meters). Of course, this is not the only way invasive plants spread, but it may help explain some spread.


NOTE: Click this link for more information on Japanese stilt grass in Connecticut. This invasive has quickly … and I mean quickly … invaded disturbed soils, lawns, roadside edges, and woodland edges in my neighborhood. It is currently the invasive weed I spend most of my time trying to control.

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