Friday, February 27, 2009

Pics from Master Garden Zoo Trip

We got to tour the area of the zoo where they research and grow endangered orchids, ferns and other plants. We also toured a very large green house where they grow and overwinter the plants for use throughout the Henry Doorly Zoo. It was so informative and so nice to see beautiful blooming plants in winter.


Praying Mantis Egg Case

I took a photo of this on Tuesday while trimming branched at one of the master garden sites. I saw many that day attached to tree branches. I was excited to learn that these little bundles are the egg cases of Praying Mantis. Each one is the home to hundreds of potential praying mantis that could hatch when the weather warms up and live in the garden. These are great insects to have. later I looked around our garden, but did not find any.

Here is some more info about them:

Tenodera sinensis)

Adult Praying mantis are beautiful insects with a voracious appetite, and a delight to have in the garden. Being strictly carnivorous, they'll eat almost any insect of a size they can overcome. Waiting in quiet ambush for hours at a time, when an insect comes wandering by they suddenly jump out and attack - always biting the neck first. At rest, they seem to be "praying", holding their "hands" together.

Each praying mantis egg case will hatch about 100-200 tiny mantises, all at once. In order to hatch they'll need several weeks of warm weather, so they can "sense" that summer (and pest insects for food) has arrived. Eggs Can Be Hatched In A Paper Sack Attach the egg cases to a twig or plant about a foot or two off the ground where there's cover to protect the babies. When hatching, the young crawl from between tiny flaps in the cases and hang from silken threads about 2" below the case. After drying out, the long-legged young disperse into the vegetation leaving no evidence of their appearance. This happens within an hour or two, and it's very difficult to know hatching has occurred unless the elusive, well camouflaged young are found. (The egg case does not change appearance in any way.) If you'd like to see when the mantis have hatched, place the egg cases in a paper bag, fold the top and seal shut with a paper clip or clothes pin. Place Or Hatch Mantis Eggs Among Plant Foliage. PLace bag on a window sill in direct sunlight. Periodically open the bag carefully, and when you see tiny mantis running around inside, take them outside and sprinkle them throughout the garden. Be patient - sometimes it takes up to eight weeks of warm weather for them to hatch.

Once hatched, praying mantis begin feeding on small insects, such as aphids. Later on, they'll continue advancing up to larger and larger prey. By summer's end, praying mantis can reach several inches in length. In the fall, females produce more eggs, deposited in a frothy secretion that hardens to protect the eggs from predators and severe winter climates. Egg cases are attached to twigs, leaves, fences, etc. Several egg cases may be laid before cold winter finally sets in. This new generation of praying mantis will hatch when warm weather returns, to repeat the process.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Herb: Epazote

We have this herb growing in our new indoor herb garden- It came with the kit- I had never used or am familiar with this herb. I thought I would find out how to use it- Pigweed doesn't make it sound too appetizing!

pigweed, mexican tea

An herb well-known to Mexican and Caribbean cooking. The name comes from the Aztec (Nahuatl) epazotl. It is also known as pigweed or Mexican tea and is frequently regarded as a garden pest. It is most commonly used in black bean recipes to ward off some of the "negative" side affects of eating beans. Much like cilantro, it is referred to as an "acquired taste". The herb is quite pungent and some say it smells like gasoline or kerosene.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Dip

* 2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
* 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
* 1 cup Blue Cheese dressing
* 3/4 cup pepper sauce, such as Franks® Red Hot®
* 1 cups shredded white cheese
*Salt, Pepper, and Garlic to Taste
Crumbled Blue Cheese


1. Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and Blue Cheese dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in the shredded cheese. Add Salt, Pepper, and Garlic to taste. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the Crumbled Blue cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and crackers.

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