justKim.com: Blog https://www.justkim.com/blog en-us (C) justKim.com kim@justkim.com (justKim.com) Mon, 12 Sep 2022 00:57:00 GMT Mon, 12 Sep 2022 00:57:00 GMT https://www.justkim.com/img/s/v-12/u145429600-o95099750-50.jpg justKim.com: Blog https://www.justkim.com/blog 120 106 of Milkweed&Monarchs https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/of-milkweed-monarchs  

 

omg. just where do i even start. pictures, kim. always start with pictures. :0)

so ive always had this love for nature. a respect, an admiration - and a severe fascination. When i began really learning about the Monarch Butterfly (beyond the basic love and butterly-chasing behavior y’all know and love me for…), it was mostly because I was a brand new Master Gardener and our Teaching Garden is a Monarch Waystation, home to SOMUCH milkweed for the butterflies to munch!! And protected from nasties like lawn chemicals and pesticides that alter the natural balance.  In the beginning I learned mostly about the Monarch butterfly's reliance on the milkweed plant. This is so cool - See, the milkweed is the ONLY PLANT that the tiny Monarch caterpillars recognize as food. A relationship thousands of years old tells that itty bitty caterpillar that this plant is food but that plant is not. That little guy KNOWS this on a VERY deep level. It's that milky substance that the plant leaks - it provides sustenance and strength and even toxicity!! If the Monarch caterpillar cannot find Milkweed, (there are a dozen(ish) native/naturally occurring milkweed species in Virginia), he will starve looking for it. AND SO - guess what plant those adult Monarch butterflies are searching for to feed those babies? MILKWEED!!! 

 

of Milkweed&Monarchs of Milkweed&Monarchs

But will they lay eggs on other plants? yes. yes whey will. especially when the plant is so very good at providing an easy source of nectar. (Enter Butterfly Bush, into the equation) (a.k.a. WhyWeHateButterflyBush). My local stripmall has butterfly bushes planted numerously on islands around their parking lot. They attract local butterflies by the hundreds and it's really beautiful. But those caterpillars will be born on tiny concrete islands completely void of their only means of survival. :0(  (yes. i know. that makes my heart hurt too.)

Here's some lovely Monarchs frequenting a Butterfly Bush in our Teaching Garden. Now here we don't worry so much about the Butterfly Bush itself because those caterpillars are surrounded by their needed milkweed.

Monarchs on ButterflyBush

Monarchs on Butterfly Bush

 

So here's the thing about the milkweed plant, my gardenerloves, it does not look pretty 100% of the time! But when you start to understand the intricate workings of the most common visitors, you'll see the little ecosystem that works in perfect balance for the health and wellbeing of the species that represents, imho, the pinacle of the project. IF THE ENDOFTHESEASON BOTHERS YOU, CUT IT BACK! Don't let it deter you from hosting this lovely plant, just cut it back when it becomes unsightly. 

 

and haveyoueverseen a Monarch chrysallis? these lovely hidden, jewel encrusted miracles of nature! they've got to be one of the most ornate and exquisite products of nature that i've ever laid eyes on. They're these bright green lit treasures when they're fresh. Literally with a little gold trim. :0) As the Monarch inside gets closer to completion of its' metamorphosis' completion, the chrysallis itself becomes more transparent and you can see the bold lines of the wings showing through.  The explosion and reconfiguraition of a freshly hatched Monarch is really an amazing thing to watch. I had that pleasure my second year as a Master Gardener. (that's a whole 'nother post. But I got pics to show u!!)  :0D

 

If you don't think Monarchs are aMAZING yet - let's talk about MIGRATION!

The Monarch cycle is not a cycle of individuals. It's a cycle of generations. Knowledge passed down genetically thatincludes information on what route and which direction to fly and when to mate and when to not. In Virginia, we get to see the 6th, final generation of Monarchs that came from their Mexico breeding grounds. The butterflies that are born here are born with the knpowledge of HOW TO GET TO MEXICO!!! These butterflies, this generation, will live 5-6 months, as opposed to other genrations who only live ____days. THIS generation doesn't mature sexually until after their moigration. They will arrive in Mexico on or about The Day of the Dead, a cultural celebration of ancestry and renewal and love.

 

BUGS THAT AREN'T BUTTERFLIES!

First, lets talk aphids. First of all, if the milkweed plant doesn't have those tiny bright golden aphids, i'm gonna secondguess the identification of the plant! The Oleander Aphid, (Aphis nerii), isn't native to North America but it appears (apparantly) out of thin air!! I mean, Where do they all come from?! The GOOD news is that, apart from also wanting to feed on the milkweed plants, they do no harm to the Monarchs. Their hostplant, Oleander, is a member of the Dogbane family and grows primarily in the south/west portions of North America. Here in Virginia, they love Milkweed! Theyre not a food source for monarchs, but coexist as long as their numbers don't become to great. The best way i've found to deal with them is a good blast with the garden hose. The occasional spray will keep their numbers at manageable levels while the monarchs munch what they need!

Oleander Aphids on Milkweed

Unsightly though they may be, they're actually kindof amazing inandofthemselves! So these super simple soft-bodied insects have piercing mouthparts. They pierce and then drink the juice the flows through the phloem, and turn it 

 

Natural predators - bugs that eat the aphids - include Ladybug Larvae, Lacewings, and Hoverflies. 

 

 

The Monarch Butterfly has also become a very important symbol in my life. A symbol of hope. of strength. of true transformation. Those little butterflies face smog and traffic and Asian Praying mantises by the thousands. (THAT's a whole nother post right there!). On the other side of the world, (Mexico!), their arrival is celebrated on the Day of the Dead.

 

 

 

 

 

And then there's the Milkweed Beetle that show up for the aphids. 

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kim@justkim.com (justKim.com) butterfly garden milkweed monarch https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/of-milkweed-monarchs Tue, 26 Jul 2022 18:47:31 GMT
me. https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/me So, officially, Hi.

I’m Kim. not Kimberly, not Kimmer, NEVER Kimmy, justKim. (did ya see what I did there? Lol!) It’s always been like that with only a few minor exceptions: kids under 5 and friendships of more than 20 years. I’ve a native of Charlottesville, VA, did a 5 year stint at Virginia Tech, (got my B.S. in psychology/sociology with a minor in philosophy), and a current resident of Haymarket, Virginia. That’s me, justKim. Like Popeye, I am what I am. Always have been. You’re here to see if I’m your cuppa tea. If not, no hard feelings, I'll wish you well on your way! But if you’re a fan of justKim doing justkim stuff, hang around and see what happens with me! I’m really thinking this might be fun. :0)

Okay so let’s be brutally honest – as you’re reading this you’ll need to know a few things up front. First off, you’ve probably noticed, I use WAY too many smiley-emoji-ticon-whatevers. I really don’t know why. Honestly, don’t care too much either. I am, generally speaking, a happy type person and lots of times I want you to know I’m smiling! :0) or I’m being terribly cute ;0) or I’m super excited :0D or WOW 80D. My smileys - most aren't even the good ones!!!! They’re the old texting faces before smart phones brought us the adorable emojis for every situation.

Second, I seem to be selective about the grammar rules that I use. Capitalizations, many times, don’t seem to fit with my mood – I know, pretty weird – but still true! Annnd I sometimes make up words because I’m pretty sure you heard what I meant. Sometimes “beautiful” just doesn’t cut the mustard. It WAS the “BEAUTIFULLEST!!!!” On the other hand, if you mis-use "your/you’re" than you are seriously just dead to me. Seriously.

Annnnnd I’m occasionally going to clue you in on the inflections in my head. Did you read that last “seriously” in a highschool-valley-girl voice? You totally should have. Like, totally. (see – you got it that time, right?)

Oh you also needs to know that I am absolutely not perfect (FAR from it), nor will I ever pretend to be. That's both a promise and a threat - cuz it's just too hard to pretend. Who needs the pressure! So please don't judge me when my garden is overgrown (my beautiful mess!) and I'm behind in my weeding - or when you see dirty dishes in the background of my seedling shots, (my greenhouse doubles as my kitchen!), or when I have to share that amazing picture - but it didn't come out tack sharp - cause sometimes shit happens, but it's still worth sharing. :0)

Ok. I think that pretty much covers it. 

Wait. AKA "Dandy," "Kimothy," & that "BadassBohemianBarefootBitch!" :0D  i'll add more nicknames as they emerge. But whatever you want to call me,

i'm justKim. ;0) 

 

 

 

 


 

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kim@justkim.com (justKim.com) https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/me Fri, 08 Jul 2022 21:57:09 GMT
from last spring...lol!!! https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/welcome (ok so i wrote this last spring...2021 i think. but i hadn't started publishing stuff yet...but i read it and i remember the spring excitement and i hope it brings you a smile today too.)

It’s springtime in the garden and my soul takes this massive sigh of relief.

How can I possibly explain this to those who don’t feel, about the garden, as I do? My excitement is through the roof as I walk around and see all the possibilities that springtime brings. And there's this massive creative force and then comes the organization and the planning and then this surge of productive energy!  It happens every spring. It does.

But this spring, especially.

and I want to go get the veggies in the ground and start some flowers and build new beds and prune the trees and it’s all gonna be just the beautifullest beautiful garden that you ever did see and I want to do it all right NOW!!!  Because THIS is going to be the best gardening year EVER!!! This is the year that I’m going to watch my calendar and stick to my fertilization schedule! And I will never forget to water and my veggies will all behave themselves and not outgrow their cages and THIS year I’ll stay on top of the weeds and the squash bugs and I will NOT concede my zucchini harvest to their numbers (I'm sooo much bigger than they are!!!! HOW do they always WIN?!?!) It’s all very overwhelming. And I love it so much!

So I woke up on this one amazing Saturday and donned my little slip ons and grabbed a cuppa joe and went out to explore and plan the projects for the day. And 10 minutes later im on the ground, in the dirt, essentially still in my jammies and have left my coffee off somewhere by its' lonesome to chill in peace. And this is how my day goes! I forget to start with my stretches (bad back), I forget to eat breakfast, my caffeine supply is entirely subjugated by the crisp morning air and the dirt and the TINY TINY little purple and green things that are looking up at me with wide eyes through their protective leaf blanket, just watching and waiting. (good little plant! Waaaait a little longer!!!...) 

 

       I just have to tell someone about how amazing all this is!!!!!

And then I left my coffee next to the compost pile when i ran inside and started typing - ugh. cold coffee again! LOL!

 

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kim@justkim.com (justKim.com) https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/welcome Fri, 08 Jul 2022 21:54:19 GMT
an introduction of sorts https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/an-introduction-of-sorts Hello my name is kim and I am an alcoholic.

Oops, wrong meeting! (pause for laugh!)

INTRODUCING ME:

Hi I'm justKim, I am...

  • a Master Gardener of Prince William County, VA, class of 2017.
  • a photographer, (www.justkim.com), so attracting native wildlife to my garden to thrive - and to be photographed IS my ultimate goal.
    • Native plants - more native plants to attract the native critters, of course! And attack / removal of the invasives that might threaten my little patch of soil.
  • a Mom to two beautiful, mostly grown, teenage boys. I also have a hunny and an Uncle Adam too. My boyz!!
  • Programs I love
    • MGPW Teaching Garden - where I work in the Natives Bed with some amazing and incredibly knowledgeable people. Working in the teaching garden was, when i started, and continues to be where I continue to learn the most. My happy place! :0)
    • Audubon at Home - certifying area properties in the Backyard Sanctuary program
    • Summer garden help and bees presentation at local pre-school
    • PWC Animal Shelter - I also help photographing and fostering for local animal advocacy groups.
  • Projects 
    • When I first started off as a Master Gardener I was completely focused on native perennials that I could bring to my yard. I was also vegetable gardening, seed starting, collecting any plant that anybody handed me and LOVING IT!
    • These days I'm chasing our native Carolina praying mantises and Monarch Butterflies and Leopard slugs with my camera, (EEEW!). But those are photography projects! In the garden, my interests have turned toward vermiculture, soil biology and composting strategies, as well as bee keeping and some aquaponics! Yes. That's right, I do tend to bounce around a lot. I'm justKim. nice to meet ya!! :0D
    • I have a bee hive! It's placed and setup and maybe ready for bees next spring, (2023).
    • Composting and vermiculture with a sidecar of soil biology: All life is built on basic natural processes and the very best thing i can bring to my garden are the beautiful things that are already here! Leave it alone. let it rot. Feed it to the living. :0) DerGAWD i love nature!!!

*up arrow*  That's me. My plan for introducing myself. My "who am I" for use at assorted meetings or gatherings or events when it might be necessary. Those types of situations absolutely terrify me. So I write down my name so I won't forget it. :0) But here's the funny thing - this is the first time I've said it "out loud." in its' entirety. So I had this thought. I've always considered my thoughts & junk more like incessant rambles inside my head because the stream just.never.stops. Anybody relate to that one?! They roll on (and on and on and on) without control or consideration. But there's some method to the madness in there - all the things i've learned about over the years - the plants and the weeds and the bugs and the soil - the genius of how they all play a part and work together - it's all just pretty incredible, dontcha think? And, for those who haven't met me, photography is my jam. It's my happy place and showing off the tiny beautiful things I find brings me such joy!!!! And I may bounce around from thing to thing but it's only cause there's so many beautiful things that I want to do! AND I'm super blessed with a beautiful place to bounce - so here we go!

 

 

 

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kim@justkim.com (justKim.com) https://www.justkim.com/blog/2022/7/an-introduction-of-sorts Fri, 08 Jul 2022 21:49:02 GMT
hi https://www.justkim.com/blog/2018/3/hi i'm workin' on it!

 

please come back soon. 

 

:0)

 

justKim

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kim@justkim.com (justKim.com) https://www.justkim.com/blog/2018/3/hi Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:41:16 GMT