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Wednesday, July 14, 2021


We are BACK!!!  The march to normal continues here at the CRAZYVERSE.  Hopefully y'all are safe and sound and enjoying some summer fun as conditions allow.  Like many folks, I was out of a job when the world more or less closed last Spring.  Frustrated, confused and just plain depressed, I really didn't know where to turn when it became more clear that I wasn't going to be going back to work any time soon.  I tried to turn to my art, but ironically enough, my workplace frustrations is often where most of my inspiration came from, so that kinda hit a roadblock too.  I clearly still got some art and comics out, but for a time, it just wasn't any fun.  By the time last summer rolled around, I turned down an avenue I hadn't considered: Gardening.  I try to grow pumpkins every year, but have little to no success (More on that next week).  With literally nothing else to do, I decided maybe some flowers would be a nice thing to plant too. Not much success came about.  Either I started too late or maybe all those seeds really were just plain bad, but outside of some pumpkins and red knight marigolds, I just couldn't get anything to grow!  I was down, but not out.

This year, things went a bit differently.  I started early, using mini greenhouses made of milk jugs and soda cups that successfully sprouted some seeds!  And as you may have noticed in the pic at the top of the page, it's only grown from there!  Here is some of the rest!  Enjoy...

Among the easiest flowers to grow, marigolds!  Got quite a few of them out there, including jaguar marigolds.  The ones above are red knight and orange marigolds.  On a side note, these flowers are a great form of natural pest control too!

Here we see a native bee, possibly a leaf cutter bee, taking her fill of a zinnia!  Among the few seeds I did successfully sprout last year, zinnias are quite hearty and very colorful!  Pollinators really love them too!

Another very colorful flower I was able to sprout were some asters.  Pretty as they are, I wouldn't recommend them.  They are a pain to get going!

This area I named "Monarch Corner," for the soul purpose of it being a habitat for monarch butterflies and their caterpillars.  Although it eventually did see some colorful caterpillars come about, the monarchs really didn't seem all that interested in this area.  They preferred the other two pollinator spots I set up.

One of the cooler parts of setting up all these plants has been the return of frogs to my yard!  Once upon a time, frogs and toads were all over my neighborhood.  But after the creek beds dried up, they all disappeared.  I've seen a few frogs here and there very sparingly since then, but that's well over a twenty year span.  Since March, I have actually lost count of how many I've spotted!  Hopefully it's a sign of more to come! 

I made sure to include plenty of milkweed bushes in my yard and boy did it pay off!  I had dozens of monarch caterpillars all over the place!  I can't say for sure how many successfully made it to adulthood as their chrysalises blend in quite well with a lot of things!  I was able to witness five of them hatch out though, so that's cool.  I never realized what voracious eaters they are!  They stripped all three plants I had  and seven saplings!  Next year I'll have to make sure I have more milkweed ready to go for these guys!

One of the biggest reasons I planted all these gardens was to also attract native bees in addition to endangered monarch butterflies.  I was successful on both fronts and bees of all sizes came to my yard, like this teeny tiny little sweat bee hanging out in alyssums above.

Green sweat bees, which are considerably bigger, also made my yard a regular part of their pollen search!  Not many people pay attention to the plight of solitary bees.  They are just as important as their honeybee cousins and in some respects, like squash bees, even more important.  They all play an important role.

Out in my front yard, I set up a Bird & Butterfly Corner that saw a wide variety of beneficial bugs show up, and a few bad ones too unfortunately.  These sunflowers especially attracted some interesting visitors...

Like this solitary bee!  I have no idea what type it is, but she was a biggie!  Much bigger than a honeybee, but smaller than a bumblebee!

This is the Pollinator Corner, which is in my back yard on the opposite side of the Monarch Corner.  This area is meant for a whole host of beneficial bugs to come hang out in, and they did!  Ironically enough, this corner and the Bird & Butterfly Corner in my front yard saw far more success in raising monarchs than the actual Monarch Corner has!

We end today with my patio pond, which seems to be a new trend amongst gardeners who can't have actual ponds either because they have no room or a disapproving super!  There's really not a whole lot to it.  I bought a really nice ceramic planter, made it water proof and added river stones, water and pond plants.  And as an added bonus, the water hyacinth that the nursery wasn't too confident about actually flowered!  It even had some stowaway pond snails on it that have kept the pond largely free of algae!  Now if only more frogs would come.

And that's a look at the CRAZY Gardens.  Silly as it sounds, these plants and critters have helped keep me sane during these stressful times.  I'm very happy with all the success I've had with these plants and am already looking at ways to improve upon them next summer.

And that's all for this week.  Next time, we'll take another trip through the CRAZY Gardens with a look at one of the biggest projects I've ever worked on!  A foundation was laid for future crops that will hopefully pay off in the long run, so be sure to come back!  Until then, take care, stay safe and I'll catch y'all later!

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