Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Science Experiments

So far this summer, we’ve stuck close to home. We’re working on projects around the house and the yard, and some days, everything feels like a science experiment. Lucky for us, we’re still learning!


I’m tending monarchs in the backyard—this is my sixth year—and finding them fascinating as usual. I learn something new every year. This year, I’m taking a more hands-off approach. I trust that they know what they’re doing. (You can see more photos, monarch info, and the tent where I keep them on my web site.)

I started milkweed plants from seed again this spring. A couple of last year’s butterfly milkweed plants are blooming, but this year’s are still tiny. I was surprised to see when I repotted a few that the roots were filling the pots. Lesson learned: Larger pots to come.


We’re experimenting with food, too. My husband discovered a mulberry tree, so we’ve been picking, baking, and eating them fresh by the handful. And in our granola, of course, the latest batch of which includes the maple syrup we bottled last winter. So satisfying!


This year’s garden includes way too much kale, which we’ve added to salads, given to neighbors, and last night baked in a quiche with oven-roasted tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Possibly the best quiche ever—so glad I made two!

My summer reading includes a large pile of botany books for a new nonfiction picture book I’m excited to work on. My writing group gave me positive reviews, encouragement, and a number of helpful suggestions I can’t wait to try. Must get back to it! But first, here’s a mulberry poem:

Squirrel stares at me—
mulberry stained, pail half full.
We can share, can’t we?

Kimberley Moran is hosting today’s Poetry Friday Roundup. Enjoy! And happy summer!

JoAnn Early Macken

11 comments:

Linda Baie said...

I've loved hearing all about your butterflies, JoAnn, but now the mulberries! There was a mulberry tree near one of my grandparent's homes, & we picked and picked them, and that long ago, were barefoot, so came home with stained hands and feet! My grandmother made us wash at the spigot! Your quiche sounds divine, so Happy Eating of all those wonderful things! Best wishes on your new book, too!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thank you, Linda! I love the image of stained hands and feet--what a happy memory!

Linda said...

I love the way just a few words can say so much! I really enjoyed your post and look forward to hearing more about your NF picture book. : )

Buffy Silverman said...

Your monarch project sounds wonderful. I planted a bunch of swamp milkweed at the edge of our swampy lake a few years ago, and now it's flowering and spreading--I hope the monarchs find it. Fun poem about your mulberry-loving squirrel!

Damon Dean said...

Loved this post. Our picking time with our blueberries is over, but for about three weeks we'd pick on one side of the bush row while a jay or cardinal dared to flitter around on the other side, making sure we were 'sharing' and leaving them the unreachable berries, or watching for those we dropped.

And I've never had a mulberry...they look luscious. But you can keep the kale--not a fan.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, everyone! Linda, I'm poring over those library books, which I've already renewed, & taking notes so I can return them. Progress!

Buffy, I have one swamp milkweed plant that I'm hoping will produce seeds this year. It is flowering now, so maybe!

Damon, blueberries were my favorite summertime accompaniment to granola until we found the mulberries. They are sweeter than raspberries, & the seeds are less of an issue. I hope you can find some!

Tabatha said...

The description of your quiche and granola had me drooling, JoAnn. Sounds wonderful. I saw a bumpersticker yesterday that said "Plant Milkweed!"

Bobbi Miller said...

This is such a great learning experience. I've noticed more milkweed in my lot as a result of reading your posts. I don't go looking for eggs or butterflies, because there are other things living in the woods that are better left alone!

Donna Smith said...

Sounds like a delicious summer - for you and all the critters!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Tabatha, I have a bumper sticker like that--on the refrigerator. One of these days, it will make it onto the car.

Bobbi, I'm glad to see that you've got milkweed in your neighborhood. I hope the monarchs find it, too!

Donna, yes, we are all lucky!

jan godown annino said...

Appreciations for this tour of your green thumb garden JoAnn.

The squirrel can be carrying the bucket or the narrator can - I luv reading it two ways. Another nature book from you will be a treat.

We have milkweed in bloom suitable for Florida fliers.
And eggplants that we've already tasted in tomato sauce.
And basil that went into many pestos.
Our odd plant in a pot this year is cotton. The flowers went from white to pink & now are forming
little bolls. We wear so much cool, breatheable cotton clothing it's fun to watch the cotton forming up.
We have some travel upcoming so an automatic timer on our garden hose will watch over everything
in this scorching ((104 yesterday) summer here in North Florida.

Happy summer to all.