Easy to be green: The beauty of Monarch butterflies


Last month I ended my column with our luck in seeing migrating Monarch butterflies resting at a wildlife refuge in Ohio after their flight over Lake Erie from Canada.

Shortly after having submitted my column, I came upon this excellent YouTube video of Monarchs after they had arrived in their southern destination. It is fascinating to see the thousands upon thousands of butterflies, but the best part of the video is the sound.

The fluttering of all these butterflies creates a sound that is amazing to hear. Think of a warm afternoon sitting on the porch, listening to the gentle rain falling. https://youtu.be/u7SSt0hqu6Y

I bet you never, ever gave the following a thought, but my question is, why were barns painted red? Now I am referring to barns that are hundreds of years old, similar to the red barn on the river road after you pass Piper going towards Avis.

Actually, the answer is based on the need to preserve the wood. Building materials were plentiful, but did not come in the form of preserved wood, nor was water sealers even invented and paint was probably not cost effect, nor was it effective as a preservative. Linseed oil was used as a sealant. The farmers would add other ingredients with the oil, such as milk or lime, but they found that rust or ferrous oxide killed any fungi or moss that grew on wood. Ferrous oxide when added to the orange colored linseed oil turned the mixture red.

Speaking of the color red, edible tomatoes will soon be history, but you can extend the joy of a BLT for several weeks. Since I’m not lucky enough to have at my disposal a green or hothouse, I have to rely on another method of extending the tomato season.

I buy green tomatoes, wrap them separately in newspaper and place in a nice warm location. They will slowly ripen, but keep in mind that the taste, while not summer vine ripened, will still be a thousand times better than the store look-a-likes.

As autumn continues, the skies are starting to become cloudier, daylight hours are getting shorter, eventually by winter the chances of seeing a lot of sunlight is very slim. With sunlight comes the color yellow. Yellow is generally thought to bring happiness and joy. Guess what? Yellow does not have the same effect worldwide on people.

Researchers have found that people who live farther away from the equator appreciate yellow more than those who are constantly bathed in sunlight. The researchers found that in the country of Finland, close to 90 percent of the people found joy in the color yellow, while only about 6 percent of Egyptians felt the same way. People who live in rainy areas find more joy in the color yellow.

Maybe by adding some yellow in your home, will make the dark days of winter a little more bearable.

Originally I thought about waiting until late next spring to bring up this piece of information, but as I collect information for my articles, the list of data continues to grow on a weekly basis. By spring I may have completely forgotten about this interesting idea.

Hopefully you are familiar with the term succession planting. Basically it means for vegetables you plant a row or two of, let’s say, green beans. You wait and in two weeks plant another more. This gives you a longer growing season for a certain crop and you are not overwhelmed with a harvest all at one time.

Taking this concept to a different level, you cut down some of the milkweed that you have planted for the monarchs. Milkweed starts to grow before the arrival of the northern migrating monarchs. Cutting back will force the plant to send up a new plant. This gives the monarch a longer period to avail themselves of fresh plants. Do your research before you go and start weed whacking.

Since we live in an area that has yet to be affected by the spotted lantern fly, it is hard for us to really appreciate what is actually happening and why they are such a menace. Check out his You Tube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLMCSBjpOIc&fbclid=IwAR3CJdWdE0oFnufr5rubTy7TXUfp4aaH8LVQtJkttDTC3oL8MmxEPNFuWY4.

Sleep is something we all do. Rip Van Winkle did it for 20 years, cats and dogs spend the majority of a 24 hour period resting. But researchers in Finland and Austria have discovered that birch trees appear to go to “sleep” during the night.

They didn’t actually sleep as we would define sleep, but actually appeared to relax their limbs at night. The limbs actually drooped up to 4 inches during the night only to revive a couple hours before daybreak. At night when we sleep our bodily functions will slow, since trees are not photosynthesizing at night time, the water pressure is reduced, causing the branches to relax or “sleep.” There must be a reason for such a study, but it is beyond my comprehension.

One foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel is not something that you like to hear. Unfortunately this little saying, I’m afraid, is about the banana itself.

A form of Fursarium wilt, called tropical race 4 or TR4, is a fungus that clogs a plants vascular system, preventing the flow of water upwards. It appears that this fungus has reached Latin America from Asia. Currently there is no cure. Once the tree is infected, it must be destroyed along with any neighboring banana trees. If and when this happens, the ground is not suitable to replant with new trees as Fursarium wilt remains in the soil for many years. Spraying the trees to prevent them from becoming infected is the only means of control. Entire banana planation’s are at risk of being destroyed.

I thought I had noticed a slight increase in the price of bananas at a local grocery store that normally had the lowest price in town.

As long as you haven’t had a killing frost, it is not too late to try to save some of your outdoor plants. Hardy perennials are just that, hardy and will overwinter. If you plan on bringing tender perennials into your home or at least into a warm protected area, please save yourself some serious headaches by making the transition gradually, inspecting the plants to make sure they are not carrying any insects or are diseased. Don’t be bashful now. You must lift up the leaves and check underneath, the plants won’t mind. Yes, you must check the soil, looking for healthy roots and no insects. This is not for the faint of heart.

It’s similar to having your annual physical. You are told to strip, made to wear that gown that never is large enough, then are poked, resisting the urge to giggle as it tickles, but once it is over you are thankful.

Please feel free to ask me questions. Your questions give me material about which to write. Email me at qstocum@gmail.com or if you see me out and about, stop and talk to me. I thank everyone who has contacted me.

Remember, it is easy to be green. Happy Gardening!


Quentin Stocum, “just your common ordinary gardener,” can be reached at qstocum@gmail.com


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