Category: garden

Surprise in the garden: Black swallowtail caterpillars!

…just when you think you’ve seen it all…

In today’s edition of “Things I’ve Found in the Garden,” we have quite the intriguing specimen. Imagine this: it’s a hot summer weekend day. Your parents are over having drinks on the porch waiting for a barbecue, you’re watering the garden, leisurely taking some pictures of Indy…

Indy in the backyard.

And of course taking artsy pictures of your tomatoes that you will edit & filter to look like they’re right out of 1970 (because Photoshop)…

When all of a sudden, your husband calls you over, his voice sounding slightly surprised and a little skeptical, to see some “bugs” on the dill. So you walk over, completely expecting to see those crazy looking candy-striped leafhoppers that are irritating the hell out of you (and your eggplants) when you look at where he’s pointing and see this:

Black swallowtail caterpillar on Fernleaf dill.

Freakin’ caterpillars! Not that many, maybe about 5 or 6, spread out all over the Fernleaf dill. Now, one thing you should know about me is that I am a geek. A total nerd. A science and history-specific geeky nerd person. So this stuff, this nature & science stuff, it totally gets me going.

So immediately I do a Google, and come to find out some very interesting facts-

The (Eastern) Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes), also called the American Swallowtail or Parsnip Swallowtail,[1] is a butterfly found throughout much of North America. It is the state butterfly of Oklahoma. An extremely similar-appearing species, Papilio joanae, occurs in the Ozark Mountains region, but it appears to be closely related to Papilio machaon, rather than P. polyxenes. The species is named after the figure in Greek mythology, Polyxena (pron.: /pəˈlɪksɨnə/; Greek: Πολυξένη), who was the youngest daughter of King Priam of Troy.

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The garden life.

Living the garden life, 2015!

Well, last post was about the start of my married life, this post is about the updates to my garden life.

I’ve had gardens for years. You all probably know how I feel about this, but I’ll say it again: if you have a piece of land, you should be growing SOMETHING on it. If you have a terrace or patio or small deck, you can grow some small peppers or patio tomatoes. If you have a window box, you should be growing herbs. There are no excuses! I started growing herbs myself, outdoors on a bigger scale, in “container gardens” in 2008. In 2010, I expanded to create an entire veggie container garden with a few tomato plants, a few pepper plants, and some zucchini, eggplant and cucumber. I really didn’t know what I was doing, to be honest, and while I got one or two paltry cukes, the zucchini didn’t give me anything that year. I later learned that the zucchini wasn’t being pollinated, and I would have to do it myself, which was unsuccessful. I did get some zucchini blossoms out of it, however.

In 2011, I had quite a large setup and everything was doing awesome! I had even gotten some cukes that year! But my nana had passed away in July, and then thats when Hurricane Irene hit us in August. And while she wasn’t as bad as we expected, she was bad enough. She decimated my plants, ripped the growing eggplants off, and ruined a few things. But that year I realized that the best results come from attracting lots of bees!

By 2012, I had learned a thing or two more about how things go, and what should go with what. I planted basil with my tomatoes, and the tomatoes were sweet and juicy, and the peppers were amazing. I wasn’t an expert yet by any means, but I was headed in the right direction. The next year, 2013, I just grew herbs. It was a transitional year for me in a lot of ways and I just didn’t have the heart to have a lot of things to “take care of.”

Baby leaf spinach.

And last year brought my  new raised garden bed! Jay agreed to build it for me and it turned out to be his new hobby/favorite thing ever. And so we really expanded. We ended up with TONS of veggies & herbs… and a few lessons learned the hard way; i.e. cucumbers should be by themselves because they will over take EVERYTHING, and tomatoes and dill should not be planted in the same area! Whoops.

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Friday Fifteen: we’re back, and it’s SPRINGTIME!

Pink African violet in the sunshine.

Time to dust off all the old pots and fill ’em with new soil! Get those seeds ready! And break out the f*&!#in’ lemonade… It’s SPRING! And I am so excited.

This year I’m starting the year off with my garden bed all ready, and my yard all resodded. Is that a word? Anyway, yes, the garden. My little babes are growing like weeds. So far we have: Globe tomatoes, Pickler’s Hybrid and Pickling cucumbers, Baby Leaf Catalina Spinach, sugar snap peas, jalapeño, and Wild Arugula as well as chives, chocolate mint, sweet mint, and lemon balm. We’re currently  planning our garden bed extension, which will be to the left of the current one and will hold just as much, but be a different shape. You’ll just have to wait & see it! Also we will be creating a separate area for our cucumbers, since last year they got just a lil bit cray cray. Just a lil.

I haven’t done one of these since November, so I thought it was time.

Friday Fifteen: Spring | Sunny screened-in back porch.

 

1. As you (most likely) know, I got married April 3rd of this year! So I am currently celebrating one month and five days of being married… plus 12 years, 9 months and 27 days of being together. Ha. So on that note, I LOVE these invites/thank you’s from Royal Steamline. I loved my invites, and I still think they’re the coolest ever, but these are pretty freakin’ cool. Speaking of which, pictures to come, I swear!
2. My sister-in-law and her boyfriend bought us a ton of awesome stuff of our Crate & Barrel registry, including a bunch of barbecue items, like this corn griller basket. I can’t wait to make this grilled corn with chili butter recipe using it!
3. I want these spring rolls. Now, plz.
4. Being that the image above is of the potting bench Jay made me last year, I think it’s fitting that I link to a how-to on making a shed to house your garden tools.
5. And, in that same vein, here’s a how-to on starting a garden from seed, and a link explaining how to save the seeds from vegetables. Awesome instructionals!
6. If you, too, are growing cucumbers, then you’re going to need to browse the ‘pickles’ category. And if it’s your first time growing them- trust me.
7. I’m seriously into browsing vintage and antique rings lately; mainly the settings and details because of a project I’m planning for my mother’s engagement ring (that she gave me when I turned 21). The best inspiration can be found at Trumpet & Horn and Leigh Jay Nacht.
8. I love DIY projects, and I love a good cocktail… so why not make some fancy tumblers?
9. I found this awesome tutorial for a glowing table, and now I want one! But my question is: does the glowing powder come in a color other than blue?
10. Cilantro-Chile vinaigrette. All day.
11. And HOMEMADE SAMOAS?!? ARE YOU SERIOUS???
12. I’m in loooooove with this Anthropologie dress. Oh, man. So spring-y and girly yet the black gives it a little edge and oomph.
13. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea (which is also why I’m putting it towards the end on our list), but Ask A Mortician on YouTube is incredibly interesting, funny and thought-provoking. So I’m throwing it out there… because really, its something we should all just face & come to terms with… and yes, maybe sometimes laugh at. Caitlin Doughty is very good at what she does and definitely manages to make it accessible and less scary-morbid.
14. I love these cedar planters. LOVE THEM. Now I need some (maybe brightly painted ?) wooden planters… *cough*Jay*cough*
15. And don’t forget- Sunday, May 10th is Mother’s Day here in the U.S.! Here’s a few pictures of the cupcakes I made for my mom. “Paris” cupcake liners & toppers by Meri Meri (they no longer make this one). In case you didn’t know, she’s a huuuuge Francophile! 

Mother's Day "Paris" cupcakes.Mother's Day "Paris" cupcakes.Mother's Day "Paris" cupcakes!Paris-themed Mother's Day cupcakes.(photo edit/HB1 filter by VSCOCAM, gold-rimmed plate- vintage Pyrex “flamingo” dinnerware)

 

Je T’aime, Momma Dukes, and to my new mother-in-law, and to all you lovely ladies who have procreated. And thank you on behalf of your (perhaps sometimes ungrateful) children.

Pickled green tomatoes, Italian style.

The garden was crazy this year, thanks to our big ol’ raised garden bed. So when things started to get super cray cray, I decided that the best thing to do once I had a harvest of more than just two tomatoes at once, was make salsa & bruschetta.

Beautiful green tomatoes.

But of course, sometimes you just see those green tomatoes hanging out there… and you wanna pluck ’em off & use them, too. They’re so cute & small & round. And then there’s all that fresh basil & oregano that’s just waiting for you to keep picking it…

A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

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Scenes from the garden, 2014.

Scenes from the garden, 2014!

As summer draws to a close (wahhh!), I think it’s only appropriate to recap the garden shenanigans that have been going on around here. Every year I typically share  how everything has progressed during the season, so why not do it this year? We had some crazy success- and a few not so successful things- on our first season using our raised garden bed.

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Raised garden bed DIY project!

How to build a DIY raised garden bed!

As you might remember, I love gardening. Every summer I typically do container gardens. Not for lack of gardening space, but because the best spots were taken by other things, and I never had the time nor frame of mind to really tear down and build up, so to speak. I do love container gardens for many reasons, and a raised garden bed is pretty much just a big ol’ container garden!

But this year a few events worked in our favor & some great spots were open. So my woodworker Jay decided to finally build me some raised garden beds! What a great early birthday gift. And it turns out, it’s actually a super easy DIY project that you can make in one weekend.

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Growing celery indoors!

Growing celery from scraps!!

Last year I talked about how you can grow your own garlic from cloves you already have, even inside. It was insanely simple and in the spirit of being green & the popularity of composting/reusing kitchen scraps, it’s one of my most popular posts.

This year I decided to expand on that & show you how celery is extremely easy to grow, as well. Yes- even indoors! I promise. It might not be quick or give you instant gratification… but in 6 months you’ll have tall, fresh celery. And you can certainly use the stalks before that; the 6-month mark is just the thickest, tallest celery (think of the kind you see in the supermarket or farmer’s market).

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