Friday, May 21, 2010

Going to seed

My Dukat [correction: Bouquet, according to the tag] dill plants are big, floppy and going to seed. Quite unsightly, some might say.
Gangly dill plant
But I don't dare pull them out just yet. They're teeming with life! Wanna see?

There's good bugs, like this adorable ladybug,
Ladybug on dill flower

not-so-good bugs, like this southern green stink bug,
Southern green stink bug

and future butterflies, like this swallowtail caterpillar.
Swallowtail caterpillar on dill

The dill is turning all sorts of lovely shades of yellow, green and brown, and the swallowtail caterpillars inhabiting it are in all stages of development.
Swallowtail caterpillar

As the sun sets and the light changes, the colors change, too.
Dill seeds

Dill

I see lots of ladybugs...


...but no aphids. I guess that makes sense!
Lady beetle on dill

Even the pesky flies flock to the dill. (I saw a spider and a wasp, too, but they were too quick to get a shot.)
Fly on dill flower

I plan to harvest some of these seeds, to replace the years-old dill seeds in my kitchen cupboard.
Dill seeds
If the cucumbers do well,maybe I'll try my hand at homemade dill pickles. (Wonder if I can find my grandma's recipe?)

What's going to seed in your garden?

Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Giant

No, I'm not talking about the 1956 James Dean flick -- I'm talking about chard! Lookit this giant leaf of chard. This variety is called 'Fordhook Giant' and now I know why! (That's a quarter on top of the leaf) This one leaf is 17 inches long!
'Fordhook Giant' chard

These chard plants are over a year old. Despite last summer's drought and last winter's freezes, they are still putting out sweet, tasty, tender, HUGE leaves. Our favorite way to prepare chard is a quick saute in olive oil with lots of garlic and chopped onion. YUM.

As I went out to harvest this bounty, Jack mentioned me he chased off a bunch of grackles today that were "eating our chard." Hmm, I thought, I didn't know grackles ate chard. It didn't take it long for me to figure out what the grackles were eating. It wasn't the chard, it was ON the chard!
Caterpillar on chard
I showed Jack the caterpillar and suggested that next time he sees a buncha grackles in the vegetable garden, he might want to leave the grackles alone to do their job. Let 'em earn their keep, so to speak. Love 'em or hate 'em, grackles are great bug eaters. Yeah, they might eat a few earthworms, they might eat some butterfly caterpillars, but they might eat some bad bugs too. Whaddya gonna do? It's nature. Sometimes, you can't control these things.


Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.