Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

We just got back from Chicago.  Whenever I get back from vacation, I like to observe the changes that have occurred while we were gone.  How much mail accumulated?  Have the ants taken over the kitchen?  How untamed are the gardens?
I found  the beginnings of a summer squash when I got back from vacation.

While we were gone, I had a neighbor girl water the potted plants and vegetable gardens.  Thankfully I told her to do it every other day.  It was in the 90s while we were out of town and the plants would have shriveled up without the extra watering.  I believe her watering aided in the skyrocketing growth of our vegetable gardens.

At the bottom of the blue bucket are soon to be red cherry tomatoes.

I first checked my upside down tomato plant.  I was afraid it would be upended from a nasty storm.  I was relieved to see it has a slew of green tomatoes.  I can't wait to taste the cherry tomatoes when they ripen.  Not bad for a $4 bucket, a tomato plant and some soil.

This is our baby watermelon.

Here hangs a adolescent cucumber which will be ready to eat soon.

Next I inspected our three vegetable gardens.  There was another nice surprise. I found amongst all the vines a baby watermelon and a bunch of tiny cukes.   Yippee!  I am so excited is because of my lack of success with growing watermelons.  My garden last year was in the shade too much so I moved two of the gardens this spring.  Currently they see sun on a six hour basis.  Tim and Natalie will be so happy when we cut into the first fully grown watermelon.  As for the cucumbers, I'll be happy with whatever yield we get.  This is my first year growing them on the trellis.  They appear to be blossoming well and I have four fruits forming on one of the plants.

The mysterious summer squash is climbing up the butterfly bush towards our deck railing.
A third amazement that I found was the presence of summer squash.  I didn't plant it.  Timmy must have snuck in some seeds while I wasn't looking.  The plant is taking over all available space within its vicinity.  The summer squash has decided to wrap around from the side of the chicken wire to the trellis and further reach to join our butterfly bush on the deck.  I love how vines find a way to continue their journey.  There are a number of immature summer squash right now.  You may ask yourself, how do you prepare summer squash?  Well, Mike has an excellent answer to that question.  See DadCooksDinner next week for that recipe.

These days I can say I enjoy the changes that crop up in a vegetable garden.  It's fun to watch the explosion of fruits and vegetables in our backyard.  Gardening for me satisfies a primal need to be connected to the earth cultivate the growth of nourishing food.   I would say we have success in our vegetable garden.  My question to you is "How does your garden grow?"

Friday, July 2, 2010

Butterfly Fireworks

 Our backyard has been having a Fourth of July fireworks preview.  Butterflies have been exploding onto the scene in our garden.  I have been viewing electrifying reds, oranges and yellows from the different butterflies on display.

A Red Admiral butterfly is feeding  on the top right of this butterfly bush bloom.
Initially I thought our garden only attracted Monarch butterflies.  After watching the plants for a few days, I realized that we have a number of species coming to visit.  It has been a learning experience in our backyard.
On the lower third of the branch is a Monarch butterfly.

Ben had decided a month back to purchase a butterfly kit.  He ordered a batch of American Painted Lady caterpillars.  They dutifully changed into chrysalises within a week and hatched into gorgeous butterflies a week after.

The kids' fascination with butterflies made me realize what a miracle it is to see caterpillars transform into butterflies.  I don't take them for granted anymore.  Butterflies represent true beauty and delicateness.

Situated on the right of the butterfly bush flower is a Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.
After watching our backyard for a few days in a row.  I recognized that our plants attracted Red Admiral, Easter Tiger Swallowtail and Monarch butterflies.  What a feat!  Now I'm thinking about what plants I can add to our backyard so that we can get additional species.