In Other News...

As we've been busy planning our water garden and overall backyard, we've also been busy planning our vegetable garden(s). I finally got some seeds started, and the boys have busy with theirs as well. My husband is creating a 4' x 4' plot for each boy to [intensively] grow what they wish, and there will be a plot for a few "experimental" plants as well - mostly those cultivated from kitchen scraps and seeds/spices, à la "Don't Throw It, Grow It!"

A few of the experiments:

In other news, many of our silkworms have been busy molting. The period before and after each molt, when the silkworms are eating and growing, is called an instar. Silkworms go through a total of five instars in their life. When a silkworm is ready to molt, it stops eating and remains perfectly still, its head raised in the air, for at least a day or two. While they remain motionless, a new skin is forming underneath the old and when the new skin is fully developed, they begin to move and leave their old skin. According to Sylvia Johnson's book, often their first meal after the molt is the skin just shed, however few of ours have been doing this, preferring fresh food instead. This leaves us with bunches of dried-up old skin, attached to the sides of their box, ick. In the picture below, an old skin is shown on the left, while a molting worm is shown on the right:

A group of molting silkworms:

Lastly, we were recently alerted to a fun science project that we've signed up for called The Great Sunflower Project. Each participant will be mailed 'Lemon Queen' sunflower seeds to plant (or you may buy your own, as long as they are 'Lemon Queen'). Once the plants are in bloom, they will then need to spend some time on observation, recording the flowers that are open (and thus producing pollen) and each bee that comes visiting. The results are then recorded online or mailed in. The project is being coordinated by San Francisco State University's Biology Department, in an effort to understand the challenges bees are currently facing.


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