Tucked behind the greenhouse is a potager. It’s my small organic kitchen garden that claims the first early hour of nearly each day. Those are joyous hours, when the mornings are still cool and the sun is just beginning to spread. Although I’ve installed drip lines, I hand water those plants needing a little extra moisture and check for pests, but my favorite thing is to admire what is growing.
As the summer is progressing, so are my sweet banana peppers, purple and red bell peppers and a variety of tomatoes. This year I decided to plant Celebrity tomatoes for their disease resistance and their perfect slicing size. I also love cherry tomatoes, so I planted Supersweet 100 and Sunsweet. They are just beginning to really produce fruit and I am so excited to finally enjoy the harvest.
My herbs are growing with abundance. I love a variety of basils and sage, including my favorite- pineapple sage. (By the way it’s so easy to propagate…. here are few tips.) I also have rosemary, lavender, thyme, oregano, parsley, dill and chives.
The yellow squash is growing along the west side along with zucchini. This time of year I love making my favorite veggie pasta salad and adding diced yellow and zucchini squash to this yummy vegetable packed side. (Here’s the recipe.)
I have a few volunteer basil plants growing up alongside the beds. I’ll pull the weeds, but leave the basil to litter the walk way. I also have a volunteer pumpkin coming up from under a pot. Mother nature has a way of always surviving and growing on her own terms.
I love all the unexpected gifts to the garden. To my surprise, I recently discovered two black swallowtail caterpillars also growing on my parsley. I was beginning to fear that these guests were never going to arrive, after all, I planted the dark italian parsley expressly for them. It flowered weeks ago and has begun to go to seed. I had decided to harvest the seed and then cut the unwieldy plant down to the ground. It had already choked out most of the creeping thyme, but I so wanted those beautiful black swallowtails to have a host plant to feed upon. I also planted dill, but they chose the parsley. (or at least, I haven’t found a caterpillar plumping up on the dill foliage yet.)
As much as I treasure my tomatoes, and I do love searching for the next to ripen lovely globes dangling from either my Celebrity plants or my cherry tomatoes. And I love the peppers and squash….. and of course the figs. Oh and how could I forget the strawberries and blueberries, but nothing sends me running back to the house to coax my family out to the garden like a butterfly caterpillar. But now that i’ve discovered them, I dread the thought of a bird plucking their plump little body right off the parsley. So what to do? We’ll I’ve got to protect them, right?
Just like I had to protect the strawberries. Yes, the chicken wire isn’t super attractive, but it’s very functional.
I’d never enjoy a ripe strawberry fresh from the garden without it. I don’t mind sharing a little with nature, but not every single berry. Luckily, the garden thieves are kind enough to leave me an occasional tomato. I just hope I get to the figs first when they finally begin to ripen.
I’ll share more about the butterfly caterpillars in the next post. Join me on the journey to “raise a butterfly.”
Until then, happy gardening.