At the beginning of July, I was wondering if any butterflies other than the red admirals would ever make their way to the garden.
By mid July, I knew the answer was yes. They took their time but, suddenly, there were swallowtails, monarchs, painted ladies, and a few skippers here and there.
I spotted a new-to-me spicebush swallowtail, which took me awhile to identify. Of course, I submitted the sighting to Butterflies and Moths of North America for verification.
And the eastern tiger swallowtail nectaring deep in the daylily was surprising and just really, really cool to watch.
Beans are still the stars of the vegetable garden with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers catching up.
The bigger tomatoes, including the green zebras and red Siberians, are taking their own sweet time.
Not sure if it was the rain or the cooler June, but cucumber beetles have not been a problem like in previous years. I’m still squishing a few every morning but the cucumber plants are producing like crazy.
You know what isn’t? Summer squash! Can you believe it? I have 5 or 6 various types of zucchini and summer squash plants throughout the garden and only one zucchini plant is giving me much to harvest at this point. I gave all the plants a good soaking of worm compost tea so, finger crossed, they’ll start doing their thing.
Harvesting: Bush and pole green beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, radishes (planted in the shade of tomato plants), jalapeños, Chinese 5 color peppers, tomatillos, basil, and lemon balm. Wonder what I’m forgetting?
Making: Burrata and tomatoes with basil – easy summertime side dish. More like assembling than making, which makes it even better after a hot day in the garden.
Reading: Talking Dirt by Annie Spiegelman. It’s a quick read about organic gardening. When I’m not gardening, I’m reading about gardening.
Wanting: An easy way to keep the squirrels and chipmunks from sampling the tomatoes. I’m using a DIY mint & cayenne pepper spray, which seems to help. I’ve also covered a few of the plants with tulle. Realistically, I know the animals will always sample the fruits and veggies. Sigh.
Looking Forward to: Lima beans in August!
Check out this beauty!
Butterflies Are Disappearing
Don’t get me started (again, my husband would add) about the lack of butterflies in the garden so far. I spotted red admirals in early May and figured the rest of the butterflies would be following soon.
Well, I was wrong. I realize I don’t spend every waking minute in my yard—although I try to—but the lack of butterflies makes me sad. And concerns me and others.
This recently published study, which found an average population decline of 2 percent per year in Ohio’s butterfly populations, was/is an emotional gut punch. There are a couple bright spots in the study, though:
- Butterflies found in Southern Ohio seem to be doing better than northern butterflies. Perhaps this is because they’re used to the warmer weather we generally have in the southern part of the state?
- Some butterfly populations have increased. For example, the wild indigo duskywing “is doing really well in Ohio because a plant it eats is used as erosion control on construction sites. It’s three times more numerous now than it was 20 years ago.”
I believe that anything I do personally can make a difference, which is why we don’t use pesticides and I have made an effort to plant native, pollinator-friendly plants in addition to the vegetable and fruit plants. But there are times I wonder if my small wins actually DO make a difference.
Bye Bye Bee Census
I keep thinking about the canary in the coal mine. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the miners hurry up and get out of the coal mine if the canary died?
The USDA is temporarily suspending data collection for the annual Honeybee Colonies Report due to budget cuts.
While I’m all about helping ALL bees, are honeybees our new canary in a coal mine metaphor?
Bees and fireflies were the insect stars in the garden this month.
At the beginning of June, peas and strawberries were definitely the vegetable stars. However, beans are definitely taking over the starring role to finish out the month!
Although June started rainy and cool, and many of the perennials and annuals took their own sweet time growing and flowering, there were lots of bees visiting the garden.
Why? Part of it is because I direct sowed Lacy Phacelia seeds in 4 or 5 different areas in mid April. There’s a reason it’s also commonly called Bee’s Friend. Once it starts blooming, bees visit it from dusk until dawn.
Want to add Lacy Phacelia to your garden? I got my seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Company and couldn’t be happier with the germination and overall quality.
Fireflies immediately take me back to my childhood. I’m sure they are super thankful that I outgrew the habit of capturing them in jars. What were we thinking? I guess it was just the thing to do.
I now know that fireflies do so much more than light up. And they’re one more reason why we let the backyard get kind of wild.
I spot fireflies all over the place in the garden and yard—especially on the tall grass. But you never know where a firefly might be hanging out and it’s not unusual to see them on the flowers in my vegetable gardens.
I love that our koi pond provides a habitat for more than just fish. Dragonflies showed up earlier than last year and have been hanging around the pond and in the garden.
Interesting fact: Dragonflies can fly in any direction. Learn more about these fascinating insects.
How cool is this Blue Dasher dragonfly? There are usually 3 or 4 flitting about and they aren’t afraid to fly right up and check me out while I’m checking them out.
Harvesting: Last of the peas and bok choy, a few strawberries and raspberries, beets, radishes, bush beans, jalapeños, cilantro, basil, lemon basil, chives
Making: Pesto! I’ve been making lots of it, without a recipe, and not always using basil or pine nuts. I know, what a rebel! It has been SO GOOD!
Reading: How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons. I’m trying to learn more about sustainable gardening practices.
Wanting: A vegepod. I saw one in person a few months ago and I’ve been lusting for one ever since. Not sure how much longer I can resist.
Looking Forward To: Ripe tomatoes in July!