Saturday, October 31, 2015

More rains...

Since last Saturday, we've had more than 5 inches of rain! Last weekend, we received around 6 inches. After months of NO RAIN, relief comes in buckets. Parts of the back yard were bone bare. Now look! Tiny seedlings have burst open.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trapdoor spider!

What a handsome fellow, eh? Meet a wafer trapdoor spider child, found last week by Alyssa at her Blanco home. Two years ago, she shared a tarantula juvenile that she'd found with me, and I posted a photo of of him/her here. Heavy rains seem to bring these spiders out.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Butterfly plants for Boerne/San Antonio area

Recommended books on native plants

Native plants beneficial for hummingbirds and butterflies

Another list to post instead of stash! This one has a credit, thank goodness. Again, I highlighted the species we have in our Wildscape. I'm sure we have some of the grasses, too.

Plants for butterfly and pollinator gardens

The nice thing about having your own blog is that you can post information that you've collected instead of stashing it away in a file. I highlighted species that we have in our Wildscape. I wish I could credit whoever compiled this list, but sadly I don't remember.

More on milkweed seed germination

This brochure, "Milkweed Germination Basic Protocol for Asclepias Species," is available for download on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How to germinate milkweed seeds

Earlier this month, I shared green milkweed vine seeds with my fellow Texas Master Naturalists/Highland Lakes chapter. Naturally, each one asked the same question: How do I germinate these?

Well, Randy Johnson with Randy Johnson Organics answered that question at the 2015 Texas Pollinator Powwow in Kerrville. Here are his instructions per his many years of germinating experience:

Separate the fluff from the seeds. Place the seeds in a paper sack with a pebble and shake it. The seeds will separate and fall out like black pepper flakes.

Most perennial milkweed seeds require cold moist stratification, which prevents seeds from germinating too soon. In the wild, milkweed seeds absorb moisture during the winter and sprout in the spring. 

To germinate your own seeds, moisten a half baggie full of sand and add seeds. Blow up the baggie like a balloon and shake the seed/sand mixture in order to make sure the seeds make good contact with the moist sand. Roll up the baggie and place in refrigerator. 

Check the baggie in three weeks. Remove if the seeds have germinated. Timing of stratification is important because once you get the seeds wet, they can sprout in 30 days.

If you stratify around March 30, pull out the seeds from frig April 30 and plant in the ground.

If you stratify later, place the seedlings in 4-inch pots, hold until fall, and plant around November 1. 

In a recent email to me, Randy adds: "I would begin stratification mid March north of Waco and March first down where you are. Best strategy is to direct sow after stratification. Remember: The best plant results from a seed directly sown. If you can't do that, then you should plant the seedling in the deepest container available. Six inches would be good. The problem long term with a 4-inch pot is the taproot curling. I would go to a one-gallon after about two months or so if I had to wait until fall for installation."


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Checkered gartersnake

A new snake species to me! Got a knock on the door awhile ago....Katy and her two sons, Caleb and Clayton, wanted to show me a snake in a jar. AWESOME! Katy found it in their yard, and they wanted to find out what kind it was. I didn't know either, but I have books and the Internet.   :-)

This is a beautiful, young checkered gartersnake (Thamnophis marcianus). Thank you for sharing!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

New butterfly species!

Meet a beautiful zilpa longtail (Chioides zilpa)! I'm pretty sure it's a new record for Blanco County as well. I posted my images to, then figured out the species/genus myself. There's a more common white-striped longtail (Chioides albofasciatus) that gave me a hint where to search. Always fun to meet a new species!

UPDATE: My sighting has been verified

Friday, October 16, 2015

Meadow mowed

With the extremely dry conditions and now wildfires near Smithville and Bastrop, I finally agreed that the Meadow should be mowed. James immediately did a happy dance. Then he shot photos for me, before and after. 

He also said our neighbors would probably dance with glee, too. 

What a funny guy. (Thank you, James, for braving the terribly dusty conditions and mowing our Meadow.)


Recycling tech stuff

Just wanted to pass on this info from Office Depot: