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 Garden Notes

These occasional posts on helpful, garden-related topics come from gardeners and others with expertise. If you'd like to share your knowledge, we welcome your contributions. 


Recently, many Capitolo Community Gardeners have expressed a desire to share their thoughts on these issues in a single place—instead of dealing with the usual flurry of emails.

Please provide their points of view here. Simply, click on the headline of this post to leave your comments in the box at the bottom of the page.

One final request: Think before you post. As members of the Garden and the community, we're all in this together. We can have strong feelings and we can even disagree. But, let's do it without being disagreeable.

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

Every year Declan (age 13) and Aidan (age 11) of plot 35 raise painted lady butterflies and praying mantises. This started one year as a birthday gift, and has become an annual tradition.

We get mail-order butterfly larva and watch them develop into caterpillars and then form their chrysalises. When the butterflies emerge, we cut up orange slices to put in the butterfly house for them to feed on. Declan and Aidan enjoy watching the butterflies up close for a few days. We keep an eye on the weather to make sure that it will be above 60 degrees at night so our butterflies will survive outside. We also must be vigilant to keep our two cats away from the butterflies. When the weather is right, Declan and Aidan take the butterflies to the garden and release them in our plot. We hope that the butterflies can survive and continue to reproduce in the garden.

Two years ago, we added praying mantises to our beneficial insect routine. When we receive them in the mail, the mantids are still encases in an egg capsule called an ootheca. Female mantids lay their eggs every autumn, arranged in a spherical structure that looks like it is covered in leaves. There are anywhere from 50 to 500 eggs in each ootheca but only about .3% of those will survive to adulthood. After the mantids hatch, we release them pretty quickly to the garden. They are great escape artists and can get out of the insect enclosure we have for them and before you know it you could have a thousand tiny praying mantises all over your house. At the garden they will eat aphids, mosquitoes, and even lanternflies.

After we release the butterflies and mantids into the garden, Declan and Aidan like looking for the rest of the summer to see if any have survived and are continuing their life cycle.

Stay tuned for an update on the butterflies and mantids emerging and released into the garden.

—Kate Kern Mundie

Just passing along a message from the Landscape committee:

Thistle is making its annual re-appearance at Capitolo. (The "lovely" specimen pictured above was found in the common beds by the ballfield this morning.)

As most of you know, thistle is a real nuisance in the garden. These plants can get quite big and spread quickly. So if you see them in your plot or the common beds, please take a moment to dig them out (including the roots) and toss them in the trash bins. And just a reminder: Don't try to tackle thistle without gloves. The leaves have nasty little spikes that embed themselves in fingers. (You can find gardening gloves in the shed, if you need them.)

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