March 28, 2012

Heeding the call

The Monarch butterflies are in trouble. Their migration path, which runs all down the eastern part of the Rockies into Mexico, is threatened due to development of areas that support their favorite food: milkweed. Destruction of habitat at 6000 acres a day! So, people that care about the monarchs are requesting help by asking people to plant milkweed.

We see a number of butterflies here during the summer, but very seldom a monarch. They do live in Phoenix however, and there are "tagging parties" in a valley not far west from here, so I figure I have a chance of attracting some, feeding them, and providing a breeding ground before they move on to Mexico. This winter a monarch was tagged in Phoenix that later showed up in Mexico.

So this morning I planted milkweed, all Arizona natives to keep it simple and natural in our desert landscape. There is some Asclepias subulata, A angustifolia and A linaria. They have drip irrigation installed and are protected by cages because, although the plants are said to be poisonous, some jack rabbit would have to taste to make sure.

I have no experience growing milkweed, but hopefully growing a weed will not be too challenging. Stay tuned for the first sighting, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

March 19, 2012

Last gasp?

Isn't it supposed to be Spring in a few days? This morning we have been treated to some winter weather: about one inch of snow and they say there's more to come.

This after the fruit trees have bloomed and leafed out, there are basil and tomato seedlings in the cold frame, and we have been riding our bikes in summer kit. Birds are nesting, and this morning I found Roadie, our barn roosting Roadrunner, had shared her perch with a buddy who promptly left when I showed up with a camera.

But this is southern Arizona where it will be 70 degrees 2 days from now.