The Monarchs have landed

Sprout Farm Newsletter Sept. 26, 2019

Your fall favorites are here. We will have large pumpkins starting on Friday. We have sugar pumpkins and the tiny decorative pumpkins and gourds to go along with their larger cousins. We have bundles of corn stalks, fresh cut from Bridgewater and half bales of straw. The corn stalks supply may depend on Jay having the time to go to Bridgewater and cut and bundle the cornstalks.

This weekend will be the last time for me to pick up peaches at the Big Apple. This late variety is big and beautiful. I don’t remember ever having peaches into October but I’m not going to complain. The apple varieties continue to change with the season. Currently we have Honey Crisp, Fuji, Cortland, Ginger Gold, Paula Red, Red Gala, and Macintosh. I expect to bring home Wolf River apples which are known for their large size and are the perfect apple for baked apples. I don’t know if the Macoun apples are available yet.

We are waiting for our fall crop of greenhouse tomatoes to ripen. We think we may have them in about two weeks but they are slower to ripen in these shortened days. Until then we don’t have field tomatoes but we do have sun gold tomatoes from the greenhouse and they are delicious. Jay started harvesting the purple top turnip and he has planted rows of turnip, lettuce and broccoli in the garden. It looks like I will continue to spend time in the garden fighting weeds. The time I spend picking flowers is the best part of the day.

The monarchs have landed. Jay’s weekly application of fungicide has paid off with the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. Some of the zinnia plants are getting close to five feet tall and they are covered with long stemmed flowers and buds. They are also covered with dragonflies, painted lady and monarch butterflies. These butterflies are so intent on drinking nectar that they will alight on a nearby flower and ignore you while you watch them drink. Now that they are landing on flowers that are at my eye level I am able to observe them close up with my bifocals and I was in for a surprise. I knew that monarch butterflies had antenna but I never before saw them use their segmented antenna as a stabilization tool. On several occasions I watched the monarch positioned itself on the flower to prepare to drink and as it lowered its head to the flower it extended its antenna to the right and left of its head and bent the articulated antenna until the tips made contact with the flower petals, creating a three point contact. Fascinating. The painted lady butterfly have short straight antenna. A little curiosity on monarch butterfly antenna brought me to this site where there is a great deal of information but nothing about stabilization. You can be sure we will be protecting our milkweed plants from being mowed down next year. Just to stand in the garden and watch the butterflies take wing together in a breeze is like watching one of nature’s most beautiful dances.

This is Dirk’s last day here at the farm. Dirk has been accepted on the staff of the Sturgis Charter Public School and this is wonderful news as we are slowing down and this is a good position for Dirk.

In case you haven’t heard the news, we will be closing the farm stand around Thanksgiving. We will not be doing any Christmas sales. We have enjoyed our holiday time with you but several factors out of our control have made it better for us to back away from that season. Thank you again for all your support.

Last community announcement: The Mashpee Chamber of Commerce candidate forum for the special selectmen election was filmed last night and will soon be available at The special election is Tuesday, Oct 1st. at Christ the King parish hall. Please be informed and stay involved.

That’s all for now. Stop by and see us soon,

Jay and Phyllis Sprout

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