• 26Jul

    Sometimes I think these monarchs have a sense about them and show up when I most need a visit. I went outside for awhile today and just walked around in the gardens, checking on things. Resisted pulling a few weeds. And then out of nowhere, my first monarch of the year! I think it’s a she and she was laying eggs on the butterfly weeds (the host plant). She also visited the butterfly bush, which is beautiful but could use some staking.

    She fluttered around my head the entire time I was out there, and it was delightful. I love my monarchs! It won’t be long until I’ve got my caterpillars. I think I have a tomato hornworm, but can’t find it. I’m going to make an order from Gardens Alive, and they had those parasitic wasps for about five bucks. I was going to add that to my order, but then I realized, if they kill hornworms, they might hurt my monarchs. I learned that the hard way last year with the monarch murder (by a spined soldier bug). So I googled, and sure enough. So no wasps for the hornworm. I’ll just have to keep looking for him. The can o’ death awaits.

    Here’s a cool pic of the wasps on a hornworm…they look like grains of rice:


    My butterfly weeds are starting to get the oleander aphids, but as of last year, I decided they are friendly. They feed my ladybugs and lacewings, so I just let them be. That little Joe Pye weed I planted last year is a huge bush this year. Really pretty!

    Despite some weeds, the back garden really looks fabulous to me. Some chicory escaped its pot, which would make my uncle the farmer go crazy. Noxious weed, noxious weed, but it’s one of my very favorite things. I could easily let that back garden just go to “weeds,” which would be chicory, Queen Anne’s lace and my various types of butterfly weeds and bushes.

    When I lived in Russia, one of my favorite things to do was a trip to the countryside, where they had their little dachas, or summer cottages. Some of them didn’t mow at all and just let everything grow up wild. It was so untidy from an Anal American point of view, but I always thought there was something so charming about those dachas and their yards. (Google Russian dacha and you can probably find some photos. One day I’ve GOT to get some of my pics scanned.)

    Maybe tomorrow I can get out to the gardens with my cameras. I need to keep documenting my straw bale garden, which is doing pretty darned well. I kind of like the concept and except for watering and some fertilizing, it’s relatively maintenance free.

    We hired a new yard man and I think this will work out well. He can also do odd jobs. He’s a teacher and just looking for extra work in the summer, so I feel very good about this. He can also tackle the mulch mountains, which would take a huge load off my mind. I’m excited about this.

    Complaint of the day: today my neighbor informed me that she’s been messing with my hummingbird vines, to train it into the lattice. Um, I like it to go where it wants…it does just fine. It knows how to climb the lattice. Reminder to self: she’s one of the best neighbors I’ve ever had. I need to let go of the small annoyances.

    Filed under: Organic Gardening

    Posted: July 26, 2009 at 2:13 pm

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