What are these critters crawling on my house?
Coe Vander Zee started seeing hundreds of these critters on the house after having some landscape work done. We checked in with AgriLife Extension entomologist Wizzie Brown who tells us that these are millipedes, which are actually beneficial in the garden, where they normally stay. But they seek shelter in rainfall and drought, or if their habitat is disturbed. Just carry them back into the garden if they’re somewhere you don’t want them, whether on your house, or if they come inside.
Now, why should we diversify our planting designs? Diversity in the landscape not only provides more interesting shapes, sizes, and colors for us, but also attracts a diversity of natural organisms. Many insects and diseases are host-specific, or at least host-preferential. If you have a variety of plants with different growth habits and bloom times, you lessen the likelihood of being completely wiped out if your garden is invaded by hungry pests.
When selecting plants at the nursery, what does sun, part shade, and shade on those plant tags really mean?
Well, somewhere in the world, they mean exactly what they say. But quite often, that doesn’t apply to the sunny southern U.S. I recommend that you do a little internet research, or better yet, give your county extension office a call, to get the local scoop before planting, especially if a label says “full sun.” The sun is more intense in Central Texas, accompanied by higher heat, so many plants that would do just fine in full sun in northern regions will completely fry here under our death ray. But some plants do like both sun and shade, or bright-filtered light. If in doubt, protection from the extremely harsh rays of late afternoon is almost never a bad idea.
And, about those dandelions! Some people may consider them weeds, but they’re a nutritious food source for pollinators on warm winter days, and we can eat them too.
Alex Wolff tells us how his Italian-born grandmother, Evelyn Waters, looked forward to “Dandelion Day.”
He relays his story for us: “When I was a kid growing up in the D.C. suburbs, my Nonni and I used to spend one weekend, usually in March, walking around her neighborhood in Reston, Virginia, picking dandelion greens. At the end of the day we would have piles of dandelion greens, ready to be taken home for one of my favorite meals of the year. On Dandelion Day, she would sauté the greens with a seemingly insane amount of fresh garlic, and serve it with a dough similar to pizza dough, shallow-fried in oil. We put the greens on the dough, and feasted!”
Alex’s mother Lisa Wolff shared the yummy recipe with us.
In Shelly McDaniel’s habitat garden in Houston, mild temperatures meant Monarch butterflies visited her still-blooming datura. She even found a Monarch caterpillar. Then while visiting Buchanan’s Native Plants Nursery in Houston, she spotted even more butterflies, including a Monarch on lantana. Red Admiral butterflies clustered too, on alyssum.