monarchs in the garden
July 25, 2010, 7:53 am
Filed under: bees, favorite plants, gardening | Tags: , , ,

hold still little buddy

I am always excited to see monarch butterflies. They remind me of being a kid–didn’t everyone learn about monarchs back in the day? I don’t see them so much anymore.

The other morning I was out admiring the wavy plot of purple flowers out back–lots of anise hyssop in bloom–and a monarch came in for a snack. They’re so flittery. It swooped and dodged, and was generally very difficult to capture with the camera. The other butterflies out there were much more amenable to getting their pictures taken, but the monarch not so much.

hey i'm pretty too--take my picture!

And while I was trying to get a good shot of the monarch, another monarch arrived–and the two of them chased each other around swooping way up and coming back around the garden. They were just having fun, I swear!

I’ve been planting up a butterfly feast–lots of anise hyssop, purple coneflowers, verbena bonariensis. This year I’ve added some swamp milkweed and butterfly weed. The hyssop is so tall –it’s year three–and it’s over my head! The bumblebees love it. There’s a bee balm patch that is also in bloom now–I didn’t plant it but it’s hanging in there, and I hope it takes off a bit more.

bee balm along the driveway

I’m busy planting all these pollinator friendly plants around, and it seems to be working. There are so many butterflies and bees. The honey bees don’t seem to flock to these plants though. I’m planting some things specially for them too.

I came across this cool project–people can register their monarch friendly gardens as part of a monarch waystation project. It’s neat to think of all of these little plots across the map–little points of refuge for the road weary travellers.


local gas well explodes!
July 23, 2010, 6:27 pm
Filed under: pittsburgh, utilities | Tags: , ,

Weird how it all happens huh? This morning about 15 minutes after I uploaded that gas well post, a nearby gas well blew up and killed two people. it happened in little old indiana township and not too far from where our pet sitter lives. yikes. it’s still burning tonight as they wait for an “expert” to come in –FROM TEXAS– to assess the situation. His flight was delayed apparently. Anyhow the county executive is wondering why on earth– with all the drilling going on–there is no local expert who can deal with this situation! Me too Dan me too. Sheesh. The footage showed them spraying foam on it this morning but now they’re saying that it’s really dangerous if there’s nothing burning off–at least with it burning off they don’t worry about it blowing up again. The news guys were quick to say that it’s not a marcellus well, but it is a shallow one and it’s pretty new too. For more info see here..

hot button issue: marcellus shale drilling ban in pittsburgh
July 23, 2010, 9:35 am
Filed under: marcellus, pittsburgh, utilities | Tags: , , , ,

A hearing in south pittsburgh this week had 1200 people! Industry folks said that there were no problems with drilling, but audience members talked about personal experiences of water contamination and negative (death) impacts on farm animals. See article here.. Pittsburgh was one of four locations for EPA hearings (other locations were Fort Worth, Denver and Binghamton, NY). Clean Water Action reported 80 violations for illegal dumping of wastewater and another 115 for frack pit violations. Scary stuff!

FWIW, Pittsburgh has passed a moratorium on drilling for a year–similar to the one in place in New York. Sure wish the counties would jump in on this as well–I’m assuming the ban doesn’t impact the regional areas–where all the drilling is currently occurring. The EPA is going to conduct a 1.9 million dollar study on marcellus shale, which is cool. But industry folks have already been doing “studies” that say that 6 billion in tax revenue and 280,000 jobs will come our way. Hey guys, we see all the Texas plates around! We know who’s getting those jobs. And we’ll be left with the big bill.

Ain’t she a beaut? First tomato
July 22, 2010, 12:37 pm
Filed under: gardening | Tags:

striped roman

Well here she is–our first tomato of the season. Well not counting the sungold cherry tomatoes. The first tomato from the big patch. Still not a slicer, but it looks kind of pretty no? It’s a striped roman.

Here how Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds describes it: “80-90 days. Stunning and unique. These long, pointed red fruit have wavy orange stripes! People were really excited about this one at our last Heirloom Garden Show. It’s a specialty grower’s dream; just what chefs and today’s buyers are looking for; a perfect midsized beauty with brilliant color, meaty flesh and excellent flavor. This variety was developed by John Swenson.”

One of the Paul Robeson’s is starting to turn color. The rest still seem pretty green!

signs of well trouble in pa–marcellus
July 20, 2010, 10:17 pm
Filed under: utilities | Tags: , , ,

Just catching up on some news and I missed this article.–cattle quarantined due to contaminated water in marcellus shale drilling area. Bad news.

Here’s a neat marcellus reference–it’s called Fractracker. It’s just been started up, but it’s going to be a powerful tool. You can upload information about drilling in your area. They’re gathering interviews about the impacts of drilling on health and environmental issues too. Kind of cool. Here’s an image of permits for gas drilling in PA. Seems like a lot of them, huh??

permits for drilling in PA

our view on fish–and mock tuna salad
July 19, 2010, 8:25 pm
Filed under: beans, food issues, meat, recipe, salad | Tags: , ,

Here at the acres we eat a vegetarian diet. I really hate having that conversation with people–well do you eat ___? how about ___? It just ends up getting into a place where you’re feeling like you’re not militant enough, or something. And it’s weird when you think about it. You don’t ask a meatarian that many questions about their diet do you? How many meals have you had without meat meatarian? Are you really a meatarian? Ugh. Dislike this convo.

Anyhow for the record, we’re living a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. We’ve got the chickens to get serious about it. Can we deal with the ethical issues around keeping an animal and using its products? That’s the challenge.

Our commitment is pretty pure I think, no gelatin in the yogurt and that kind of thing. But who knows there’s lots of animal products hiding in some difficult to pronounce ingredients I’m sure. And then, if you eat out, who knows what’s in there. I ask about the kind of stock in innocuous sounding things, cause it’s always in there somewhere. But we do what we can. See I’m feeling bad just writing it. We could be better. And I know I make an exception for a marshmallow or two in the summer for a smore. But I don’t feel good about it!

And then there’s the fish. Ok, so now we sound even worse. Fish tacos are good. I like fish tacos. That’s the only fish we cook at home–a couple of times a year. We haven’t had them this year, as I’m trying to really get more serious about no fish no where. Fish fry, well that’s ok to have out now and again. Of course, it’s hard to find a good one in Pittsburgh.

Well for what it’s worth, that’s the story. We eat what we eat and try to be thoughtful about it. And on that note, this article about Tuna is worth sharing. I think it’s a good argument for being more serious about avoiding fish. We have other options to eat so why don’t we eat more of that? I sure wish restaurants would help us with that. We have no trouble at home, but dining out, it’s just plain annoying to see that in many cities it’s unnecessarily difficult to find a good vegetarian option on the menu. And why is there no great vegetarian cooking show on food network?? How hard is it? The food is fantastic people!!! There are unlimited options for great vegetarian food. Is the food network sponsored so heavily by the meat industry or what?? Please explain?!

Oh and read the article on tuna. It’ll make you think twice about your tuna sandwich, or fishburger.

I’m going to try this tuna-free tuna salad recipe and work to eliminate tuna from my diet.

Mock Tuna Salad Turdacres Style
1 15 oz can chickpeas drained
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 small dill pickles (1/4 cup?)
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp soy sauce
2 green onions chopped
1 tsp dill
pepper to taste
enough mayonnaise to suit you at least 1/3 cup
1 tbsp bottled lemon juice

Mash up all ingredient in bowl. Serve as you would a tuna sandwich. It’s pretty good.
The original recipe creates a big of a smoky kind of taste. Maybe the kelp would brighten it up a bit. Anyhow I made it up the original way and then decided to doctor it up as we like our tuna salad–lots of pickles, more green onion, lemon for some zip and dill. The kids and I pronounced it pretty good! Definitely a keeper. You should try it and save a tuna!

the first potatoes are here! red cloud
July 18, 2010, 5:17 pm
Filed under: gardening | Tags: , ,

I am terrible at digging potatoes. Good thing the doode apparently loves doing it. I mean, I can understand the thrill of the dig at some level, but I kind of suck at it. I can’t find them!!! Naturally I didn’t label the rows or anything. I really wanted some fingerlings, but found only a few small russets. Looks like the Red Cloud will have their day today. Aren’t they pretty? They’re such a nice dark red color! I think we have a good harvest this year.

first dig of red cloud

We planted the potatoes on April 4, while my best pal was visiting for easter break. Poor best pal, such a hard worker on her vacation.

city girl plants potatoes

Notice our nice stepping stones. HA! Like that worked! Here’s the patch with Edwina on June 1.

edwina inspects the potatoes