Homestead Report 37: August 22, 2019

The summer is almost over, as signified by the tangle of plants threatening to engulf the garden paths, and I haven’t written a single post! I expected to have eons of “extra” time now that I completed my term on the selectboard, but somehow it gets filled right up! My photographs tell a story of travel, bioblitzes, and food production.

Healthy brassicas in the lower garden. Aug 9th.

Charley and I spent a few weeks exploring prairies in the upper Midwest in late June- early July in an effort to flesh out our knowledge of leafminers that specialize in prairie plants. We braved clouds of mosquitoes and black flies, sneaky chiggers, fast-running Lone Star ticks, thigh-high poison ivy, and received amazing hospitality from a number of newly made friends. It was somewhat of a surprise to discover that there are many people who have planted and maintain extensive prairies, putting in hundreds–maybe thousands–of hours of back-breaking labor each year to remove invasive species, expand their prairies, and keep them diverse and healthy.

But first, a stop in old growth forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (mosquitoes!)
Columbine with pollinator, probably a sweat bee.
Baptisia alba in Wisconsin (black flies!)
Prairie skies in Wisconsin before a storm.
Grasses have beautiful flowers too. Just small.
Charley in a hill prairie in Iowa (chiggers!)
Butterfly weed in Illinois (lone star ticks!)
A sandhill in an Indiana prairie
The edge of the prairie. Ohio.
Echinacea and royal catchfly in a remnant prairie in Ohio (poison ivy!)

Bioblitzes are events that seek to find and identify as many species as possible in a 24-hour period in a defined geographic area. Given our esoteric expertise (and thereby minimal overlap with other species seekers), Charley and I are often popular attendees.

Coptodisca splendoriferella (a moth) that mines the leaves of cherry trees, eventually cutting out a “hole punch” to pupate in.

The day after we got home from the prairie trip, we headed to Concord, MA for a bioblitz that celebrated E.O. Wilson’s 90th birthday and also the 30th anniversary of the world’s very first bioblitz, which was also held in Concord. We added around 175 species of mainly leaf-miners and gall-makers to the day’s tally–a respectable effort.

We also spotted this adorable green frog feeling a little extra green.
A new Audubon sanctuary in Concord, MA

July and August have passed in a blur of work and travel: I took a trip to Nantucket to work in the museum for a bit, and later Charley went to Maine to teach a week-long course on leafminers at the Eagle Hill Institute. I just returned from a trip to Chicago to attend a friend’s wedding. Through it all, we had the company of my college roommate and her sweet dog.

In the yard and garden, plants are growing fairly vigorously despite the lack of rain.

Charley’s paths through the goldenrod/ meadows looking lovely and allow barefoot walking despite the jungle.
Cucumbers on their crib-side trellis
The three sisters region: popcorn, flour corn, butternut squash, and a variety of black/ kidney/ soldier/ yellow-eyed beans to dry.
Left to right: basil, edamame, leeks, sweet corn, summer squash, kale. A new addition is the little fancy fence pieces I picked up from the “free store” at the transfer station–they are very handy for keeping the hose from crashing over tender young plants.
Balloon flowers in the “driveway bed”
Bumblebee hugging an Echinacea flower
What a gift these lovely flowers are.