Monday, September 16, 2013

Feasting Visually

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had LOTS of rain this summer. This made my garden produce less than in previous years. I haven't posted many times to the Harvest Mondays. There just wasn't much to report.

I have thought a lot about this post and whether I should write it. But this is the way I decided it. I do have a butterfly garden. We planted it last fall, when my children and I were studying insects for science. And it has been extremely productive for our family this year.

It has produced a feast for the eyes, and full of amazing transformations. We have been simply enraptured watching these interesting creatures.

We saw the mama Gulf Fritillary lay the eggs on the passion fruit vines. Soon afterwards, we saw the first instars of the caterpillars.
Do you see the orange caterpillars among the vines?

Then larger and larger caterpillars. Finally, we started to see this.

Chrysalids from Gulf Fritillary butterflies. Suffice it to say that
they are about an inch apart all along the roofline for 20 or 30 feet. 
Finally, we started seeing some of them emerging. One day, we watched 15 emerge in a single morning!

Chrysalids of Gulf Fritillary butterflies with a couple emerging
We still have many chrysalids, and now our front yard is alive with the movement, the fluttering of butterflies.

Gulf Fritillary on Porter Weeds
It has been wildly successful for us. And some of the plants I planted for the butterflies have also attracted hummingbirds. The porter weed (above) draws hummingbirds even in the pouring down rain.

So, you see, even though I haven't harvested much food from our garden, we have all benefited from the harvests in the butterfly garden.

Hop on over to Daphne's Dandelions and see what others are harvesting.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Harvest Monday Labor Day Edition

This has been an excessively rainy this summer. From July 1st to August 18 (when my rain gauge broke) I recorded 23.5 inches of rain in my own backyard. This has not been positive for the garden. Almost everything rotted and/or molded.

I had planted okra and Mississippi Cream peas for summer crops. Both of these plantings hung in there through the excessive rainfall. But neither one produced much.
I tried 3 types of okra this year. From left to right: Eagle Pass,
Stewart's Zeebest and Stelley.
Now that the rain has returned to a more reasonable level, I am getting some okra and a little Mississippi Cream peas.

I wanted to taste several different types of okra. My family really likes okra. Last year I grew Clemson Spineless, but I wanted an okra that would taste good at a larger size than finger length. I was also looking for something that would bear more prolifically than the Clemson Spineless did. (And, let's be honest, everybody grows Clemson Spineless. I wanted something a little different.)

All three have a good flavor. My middle daughter just loves the shape and size of Eagle Pass. When they are cut crosswise, they look like little stars. The Stelley (at the right) has not been very productive in the deluge of rain. In fact several of the Stelley plants died. 

The Stewart's Zeebest plants all lived through the summer. They produced a little and kept going. None of the plants were as happy as they would have been with less rain, but the Stewart's Zeebest was the star performer in my garden. The pods in the middle were the size I always picked the Stewart's Zeebest, and without fail they were tender and tasty. They were also much more productive than either of the other plants, and much more able to withstand the testings the weather gave us.

I will definitely grow Stewart's Zeebest again. I want to thank Dave from Our Happy Acres. He grew them last year and reported it to Harvest Monday's.  I am very grateful that he reported his experiences with this plant. It is just what I wanted for my own garden, and I would never have thought to plant it if he had not had such glowing things to say about it.

I am linking with Harvest Mondays, hosted by Daphne from Daphne's Dandelions. Hop on over and see what others are harvesting.