How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Well it has been some time since I last entered a blog. I apologize to my followers (which are mostly my family). Hopefully someday that will change, and I will actually have a true following. Life seems to have been taking up most of my time since Thanksgiving. It started with one of my sugar gliders being injured the night before Thanksgiving. For those of you that don’t know I also breed sugar gliders. They are marsupials, and I have been breeding them for several years. Prior to breeding them I had several as pets. I actually got my first sugar glider around 2000 for my youngest child Drew, who saw their picture in a reptile store. Being an animal lover I thought it would be a great pet, and soon found out that my then 5 year old son was way too young for a sugar glider. I fell in love with them and years later started breeding. Breeding can be difficult at times especially when the female sustains a mating wound, which is what happened to Tulip on Thanksgiving. She was ready to have a joey any day which really complicated the situation. The mating wound was in a very bad location. The wound was on her chest close to the patagium, which is the thin area of skin which extends from the fifth finger to the first toe. This membrane of skin allows the sugar glider to glide in their natural habitat. With the joey being so close to being born this was a terrible situation. Sugar gliders have a tendency to self mutilate. I took her to the vet and they performed surgery to clean up the wound. We debated putting her in an e collar to protect the wound. This meant she was not able to care for the joey. So for the next month or so I have been caring for not only the mother, but also the joey. This meant hand feeding every 2-4 hours around the clock. It has been a very long month and I have to say that I am exhausted. The good news is that the mom’s wound has healed very nicely and the joey is up to 26-28 Gms. There were several times that I was concerned for both of them surviving. I am including a picture of the mom and her wound and the joey. The wound is graphic and not for the squeamish.

To complicate the situation my mom had to have surgery, and since I am a nurse, I always take care of my mom whenever she has had to have surgery, which has been many times over the years. She has survived 3 primary cancers which is unbelievable. We joke that she has more lives than a cat. Her surgery went without complication and her recovery was quick. She turned 85 years old on December 23rd. Happy Birthday Mom!

Between those two situations and three of my four children home for the holidays I have had very little time to garden. The holidays for me are filled with tradition. My ancestry is both Italian, and Irish. Most of my traditions are based on my mom’s Italian heritage. That means lots of cooking during the holidays. I usually make a big pot of spaghetti sauce on Christmas Eve. The tradition is for “Seven Fishes” which is spaghetti sauce made with 7 different types of fish, but I have changed it to a nice delicious pot of spaghetti sauce. The children have grown to love and expect many of my traditions. Here are several pictures of my family and some of the food associated with our holiday.

I also decided to knit many of my Christmas presents this year. I made several hats, Afghans, baby blankets etc., which really took most of my time. With all four of my children living in the Northeast I thought it was time to put my knitting skills to the test and knit them some things to keep them warm in the very cold weather.

Thank goodness that the garden and bees are doing well. A couple of weeks ago I went into the bee hives and again consolidated the combs for winter which gave me about 8 jars of honey to harvest. The hives were pretty free of pests which was one of my main concern the last few times I went into the hives. Most of the hives looked stronger; there were no ants and a few small hive beetles present. I took away any extra comb so the bees did not need to protect unnecessary space. My fifth hive which is my brood box and my best laying queen I found with several uncapped queen cells. The old queen was still present which had me confused but I left the queen cells and hopefully the next time I enter the hive there will be a new queen. As a new beekeeper I have not experienced this situation yet. There is always something to learn as a beekeeper.

My square foot garden is growing but not as quickly as I would like. I staked some of the tomato plants for support. I have several flowers and small tomatoes on a few of the plants. The heirloom Cherry tomatoes have been slow to grow but are finally starting to make some progress. It was really nice during the holidays to be able to use several of my herbs and arugula in many of the meals that I made for my family

The next project for the garden will be building the trellis for the garden to grow vertically. The cucumbers, zucchini and cantaloupe will need support to grow. Since there is no room for the garden to grow horizontally a vertical trellis will be necessary.
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