The Violet Fern

Creating Art & Gardens


Caught in the Act

Just the other day I caught this Squash Borer Moth laying eggs on my patty pan squash and cucumbers! I did not know what it was at the time but did observe her laying eggs on the stems of both (not underneath the leaves).


The eggs match the color of this moth! They are tiny red discs the size of a pin prick. I picked off what eggs I could see on the stems with a tweezers after observing her for awhile. Her wings were clear though dark in color, and in flight she reminded me of a Hawk Moth so I looked up clearwing in the index of my Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America to narrow down my search.

I can’t say that I was happy to meet this moth in my cucumber and squash patch which, so far, amazingly has survived the ravenous appetites of the rabbit herd. On the other hand, I am always happy to come across a new sighting in my garden and one that I feel fairly confident in identifying. Squash Borer Moth will be added to my insect sighting list.



What’s Growing: Seeds and Weeds

I hope to be busy in the Potager these next few days. After what I believe was a very successful and enjoyable Artists’ Studio (and garden) Tour over this past weekend, I feel even further behind in my garden chores!

The Potager May 28 2013

The weeds are well, growing like weeds! I did a lot of primping and prepping in the garden in anticipation of the tour but it seems as though with every step I take, another weed grows. And the Silver Maple next door is raining seeds on my Potager – they are everywhere. Here, covering the cold frame where I am currently holding my transplants among the over wintering lettuces and kales – away from the mouths of hungry, curious rabbits.

Seedlings in the Cold Frame

I have big, fat rabbit trouble this year but I don’t want to put up a fence that will make it difficult to tend to the garden. I’m on the short side and two feet of fence just may keep me out. Of the six brussel sprout starts I grew from seed only one survived. I didn’t think brussel sprouts would be appetizing to a rabbit, but appetizers they were. This means war, you know! My sole survivor is now under wraps courtesy of my father who fashioned this rabbit plant guard – I must make more of these for next year.

Brussels Under Wrap

Rabbit Guard

I am going to try a few other “fenceless” tactics, too: dried blood, lime peels, cayenne pepper, Marigolds, Catnip and noise. Mojo, my large, bustling dog doesn’t seem to scare any of the rabbits – all three sizes of them. Apparently I am not threatening either even when I yell HOSSENFEFFER!

The Catnip will probably attract my second bit of trouble – cats. Roaming nighttime cats are attracted to any bare earth in my garden. This year, though, I am using my plant trays upside down to guard my seedlings until they grow large enough to be off the cats’ area attractions.

Lettuces and Kale Under Guard

Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Chard and Radish Seeds Undercover

Herbs, Borage and Calendula are not on the rabbit menu. Amaranth seems to be a delicacy.

Herbs in the Potager

Herbs in the Potager

Lovage Tarragon and Horseradish

Lovage, Tarragon and Horseradish

The potatoes are safe in their hoop. The garlic apparently works on rabbits as well as vampires. The peas somehow grew up unscathed.

Potato Hoop

Potato Hoop





Newly planted this year, Asparagus! Thankfully, not appetizing to the rabbit masses, but I did pick off three Spotted Asparagus Beetles this morning. It seems to be doing well. These were planted from root crowns.

New Asparagus Shoots

New Asparagus Shoots

The next scuttle? The Berry Battle! Who will find and pick the ripest strawberries and blackberries first? Me? The munks? The skunks? The birds? The ravaging rabbits?

Strawberries and Rhubarb

Strawberries and Rhubarb


Wild Blackberries Tamed

If only rabbits loved to eat maple seeds and bindweeds.


What’s Growing: Very Chilly Garlic

Here is a window into my world this morning:

icy morning 4.12.13

Yes, that is ice, ice baby. Not only disheartening but freezing cold. The porch furniture is out, the “protect from freezing” bird houses and garden ornaments are out, as in outside – all too soon.

[Insert SFX: very, loud and audible sigh.] Will anything ever grow again?

Very chilly garlic shoots on ice.

garlic 4.12.13 in ice

On the sunny side: lettuce in the cold frame ready to harvest! I foresee a tasty salad dinner this weekend!

cold frame lettuce 4.12.13

Inside, where it’s warm because we are still running the [BEEP] heat, my seed farm is taking off. I’m going to dig around the shop for a little fan to help strengthen their stems because I’m sure not putting them outside to harden off anytime soon.

amaranth and flower seedlings 4.12.13

Amaranth, Globe Amaranth and other flower seedlings

tomato seeds 4.12.13

Heirloom tomato and pepper seedlings

I planted the runner beans way too early – I am now reminded of the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk. Note for next year: runner beans grow very, very fast. I wanted to have a good start on these to head off any cutworms and the big, fat rabbit who, lately, joins me for coffee each morning. I am off to a really good start.

vine and runner bean seedlings 4.12.13

Scarlet Runner Beans, Cardinal Climber and other annual vines

Note: I’m going to need at least one more light for next year, too.

For fun, I am trying to regrow my green onions – a pin I came across on Pinterest. You stick the roots in water and supposedly they will regrow. It seems to be working!

pinterest onion experiment

My potato starts are in a cool, dark closet. Although I don’t know why I need the closet – it is plenty cool, and plenty dark. Hopefully they will keep until I am able to plant.

In an earlier post, did I say Spring was in the lead over the fight with Winter? I better stick to gardening and give up sports announcing!