Friday, October 28, 2011

Gardening for the Butterflies

Butterfly Attracting
Herbs - Hosts and Larval
  • Nectar Plants provide nectar for the butterfly to live on.
  • Larval plants provide food for the caterpillar stage of the butterfly.
  • You need both types in a butterfly garden. The larval plants are for the butterfly to lay its eggs on. The butterfly eggs will turn into a caterpillar, than form a chrysalis which will then transform into a beautiful butterfly! And the cycle continues.  
Butterfly Garden
HERBS:
• Basil (nectar)
• Chives (nectar)
• Dill (larval)
• Fennel (larval)
• Lavender (nectar)
• Mexican Mint Marigold (nectar)
• Mints (nectar)
• Oregano (nectar)
• Parsley (larval)
• Pineapple Sage (nectar)
• Rosemary (nectar)
• Thyme (larval)
• Tiny Tim (nectar)

Umbelliferous herbs provide nectar and act as larval host plants. Herbs in general are excellent nectar sources for butterflies.

Larval Plants (butterfly species noted):
  • Achillea millefolium (yarrow). Painted Lady
  • Anethum graveolens (dill). Black Swallowtail; Anise Swallowtail
  • Foeniculum vulgare (fennel). Black Swallowtail; Anise Swallowtail
  • Levisticum officinale (lovage). Black Swallowtail; Anise Swallowtail
  • Mentha spp. (mint). White Peacock, Painted Lady
  • Petroselinum crispum (parsley). Black Swallowtail; Anise Swallowtail
  • Salvia spp. (sage). Gray Hairstreak; Painted Lady; West Coast Lady
  • Tanacetum vulgare (tansy). Painted Lady
  • Viola odorata (sweet violet). Fritillaries
Nectar Plants:
  • Achillea millefolium (yarrow) 
  • Allium schoenoprasum (chives)
  • Chamaemelum nobile (chamomile)
  • Coriandrum sativum (cilantro)
  • Lavandula spp. (lavender)
  • Mentha pulegium (English pennyroyal)
  • Mentha spp. (mint)
  • Nepeta spp. (catmint)
  • Ocimum basilicum (basil)
  • Origanum laevigatum (oregano)
  • Origanum majorana (marjoram)
  • Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)
  • Salvia spp. (sage)
  • Thymus spp. (thyme)

Caterpillar Hunting in the Morning

Question:
I bought some basil plants from you about a month ago. One is looking great. The other one has been attacked by some pest that is eating the leaves. Any recommendations for how to treat it? Organic or non-toxic treatments are preferred, if possible.

Answer:
It sounds like you probably have a caterpillar eating on your plant. Are you seeing any black droppings on it? Best thing to do is to check it first thing - very early in the morning - that's when you usually can find the caterpillars eating on the plants. Pick it/them off and put it/them somewhere else away from plants you don't want them eating.

They can eat alot (and fast) as the more they eat, the bigger they get and than they eat even more. You want to find them before they eat up the whole plant. They are usually the same color as the plant. If you check around any droppings you see on the plant, you will usually find the caterpillar on the underside of the leaves above it. And where there is one, there is usually more.

If different symptoms, let me know.

Reply:
I am going caterpillar hunting in the morning.


Look what I found.

This is the Doxiehumilis Caterpillar-
confuscus - a rare sighting of
 this caterpillar found at the Buda, Texas
Weenie Dog Races this past April.
You may encounter one at Halloween
too but I doubt you would normally
find one in your garden. If you do have
the priviledge of finding one - be
sure and give them a big hug and
a good home. These are the good kind.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mind Boggling Garden

Hubby came through again for my birthday (Oct. 18) with a great suprise. This year we got a newly planted backyard to go with our fence and raised garden bed he installed last year!  One of my presents came with a birthday card that read, sit in the shade, watch the grass grow, and bogle your mind? Thence a mind boggling garden no less.

Before sod - dirt yard with mulched pathway.

After sod - test run by Daisy.

Daisy - "Hmmmm... Now where did I hide my tennis ball?"

Herbieeeee - But maybe I don't want to come in yet.

The pooches are loving it as they can run faster, than a speeding bullet, leap higher than ever before, (and believe you me if you have ever seen a doxie leap, you know they can soar) with the added toehole (do dogs have toes?)
  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Before the only yard they got to visit this nice was at my folks but now they have their own to enjoy. They are venturing to rest under the shade tree and several other choice areas they've found with the new addition.

View from the butterfly garden.

Now we have grass, zillions of blades of the same green plant. I have to admit, it's a welcome addition for play and frolicking. hmm ... haven't done much frolicking in quite some time, now that I think of it. Daisy and Herbie could teach me a thing or two about frolicking.

Just got finished enjoying lunch outdoors in the newly planted green space with the surrounding edible landscape. Garden bed planting phases continue.

Tomato, bell pepper and eggplants
are taking off since planting
several weeks ago.

Sunday I planted assorted lettuces throughout
the backyard raised beds. Fresh salad greens!

Zucchini "Gold Rush" - already harvesting
some along with fresh cucumbers.
 
RinTin, Tin and Rusty stand guard over
the Diva cucumber plants.

Romanesco plants added last week.

To be continued - broccoli garden photos and more.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Gardening in South Texas

Fall is one of THE best seasons to plant your garden in South Texas. The cooler weather allows plants to develop a good root system and become established before spring and the stress of summer heat sets in. Plus I myself and Daisy and Herbie are alot more friskier out in the garden at this time of year.

For anyone who has tried to grow cilantro and had trouble - Fall is the best time to plant cilantro. You'll get alot more harvests out of it in the fall than in the summertime. It won't bolt and go to seed so quickly like it does in the summertime due to the extreme heat.

Plant now in order to reap the rewards and tastes.
Harvest from some of last fall's garden planting.
I always say, "Gardening is like fishing, you do it whenever you have the chance." I've been in and out away from home these last couple of weeks. Every time I've come home I've been met with another suprise garden area, my husband has planted.

As I child I was a picky eater. I liked corn on the cob and mashed
or baked potatoes but little else in the way of vegetables.
It wasn't until I got married and had my first garden
that I fell in love with fresh vegetables.

Lettuce grows in the fall and packs so much flavor.
We now have several types of zuccini squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, okra, and green beans planted. Everything is growing like gangbusters. Basil, lavender, chives, sage, thyme, rosemary, anise hyssop, lemon balm and other fragrant and culinary herbs add to the edible landscape.

We not only have an edible landscape for us. I love the new blooming butterfly hummingbird garden beds. Some beds got spruced up and replanted while others, having been neglected, are now a bright blooming area - makes me smile getting out of my car to see the newly planted bed up front and to walk through the back yard and discover what my husband has planted today.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cwaizy Wabbit Jumps the Fence

After a hectic week - I came home and found lots of fresh veggies planted in different garden areas, thanks to my sweet hubby. It's a fun adventure every time I go out to find what's gone in today.

Newly planted tomato, eggplant, and
peppers among existing basils - this is
only one side of this raised bed garden.
New tomato, eggplant and peppers have been added to our super duper raised bed garden. Another garden area is full of zucchini plants and yet another area has cucumber plants - I'm amazed at how quickly everything grows once it's in the ground. We'll have our beans, broccoli, cauliflower and romanesquo plants ready for garden planting this week.

Butterfly Garden

Well the Cwaizy Wabbit has jumped the fence. The plants always look greener on the other side so our cross-eyed wabbitt has found a new place to watch over.

The Cwaizy Wabbit (CW) moved to the newly planted and mulched
hummer/butterfly garden. Can you see CW under a bush?
Porterweed, lantana, blue mist flower,
Mexican honeysuckle, Pato de Chivo and more butterfly
hummingbird attracting plants are here. I'm still discovering
something new every time I go out to check it.

Hummer taking a break amongst Red Porterweed shrubs.

Due to some family emergencies, the hummingbird feeder didn't get refilled this week. The hummingbirds are still helping themselves to the porterweed blooms and other flowering shrubs though and seem quite content.