A young Cabbage Looper where it most loves to be: on a tomato. (John Tann/Flickr)

A young Cabbage Looper where it most loves to be: on a tomato. (John Tann/Flickr)

Deer Gardener: Dreamin’ season and the dread Cabbage Looper

Phenology: “The study of the timing of biological events and their relationships to climate and to one another.”

With phenology, we are talking bird migration, animal hibernation, and the emergence of insects relating to seed germination and plant flowering. Really, it seems like an inclusive study of life.

You might want to keep a diary that shows a pattern in your yard — it can help you make a plan for countering negative insect effects. It seems like an interesting hobby, too, and will move some “folklore” into scientific fact. Be sure to record weather stats as well.

Snow has nutritional benefits for the soil. I was reminded of this fact as fluffy flakes filled the sky outside the coffee bar earlier this month. If you hear it at the coffee bar, it must be true right? The claim was that it adds nitrogen. My weather lore does refer to snow as the “poor man’s fertilizer.” With its mulching attributes, it prevents rain from leaching away nutrients such as nitrogen, while protecting plants from freezing winds.

Frost, likewise, is referred to as “God’s Plough.” It breaks up the soil and kills pests that remain in the top layer. Among these pests lies one of the insects we love to hate: the dreaded Cabbage Looper. It has a brilliant burnt orange capsule. The birds love to find these thrust-up treats in early spring.

Right now it’s still the dreamin’ season — time for armchair gardening. I love that we don’t have to get down and dirty yet. It’s too wet and cool for that unless you want fresh air and exercise of course. Garden catalogues use a “deer don’t eat these” symbol that is not always correct, but they do indicate which plants are less choice for Bambi and friends.

There is such nice reading material in gardening books. Our library can order in any garden book you care to ask for, or you may do it yourself online. So easy and completely free. We are so blessed.

Just how can we meet the nutritional needs of all those deer this year? Perhaps plant more so there is enough for us all? What if we plant all the things that they adore along the outer edge of the yard and place our personal faves in a secure spot? This is not revolutionary, but I haven’t considered it previously. So much to consider, I may need a nap to think about it all. I am off to the Osoyoos for a few weeks. See you later.

Deer Gardener