Wow, mid July and The Twenty-five Dollar Organic Victory Garden has produced almost 35 pounds of vegetables. Although the lettuce is pretty much finished, everything else is still producing away. I have at least 60 tomatoes on the vines of the eight plants, all at varying stages of development. Between those and the cucumber factory, and add in the squash that keeps on coming, and I’m hoping to break through a total harvest of 100 pounds before this little garden is finished for the summer. Not bad for a $15 investment!
Yesterday I had a fun time of discovery in a few of the periodic visits to my garden. Every time I need a break from my writing, I head outside for some fresh air and an inspection of my busy little plot. Within one eight-hour stint, I managed to see and photograph some amazing visitors to my garden. I’m amazed and very happy at the incredible amount of honey and native bees busily pollinating my garden. The level of activity, and the amount of harvest, is a testament to the benefit of not using pesticides.
The top picture of course is the larva of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. It is feeding on the flowers of a large dill plant. Although I love planting dill for its culinary contributions, frankly I rarely use it for that. Instead I plant it for the very reason you see here. This one plant has nine of these little guys on it. And the really cool part is I have my little nature-loving daughter Amy totally hooked. We’re now tracking them everyday and documenting their progress.
The strange bug you see here is a rather rare site. Although they are more common than you think, they are very shy and good at hiding, so they are not often seen. However this “wheel bug nymphs” was basking in the sun as he hunted for his next victim. They are members of the assassin family and jab that long pointed beak into their prey while holding them down with one of those long cumbersome legs. Because they eat garden pests, they are considered beneficial but they are also non-selective so they’ll eat anything. They will even bite humans if provoked so be warned. They inject an enzyme that eats away the tissue of their victims. In humans, it can take months to recover!
On a lighter note, the garden is growing well but frankly, there’s just not much new to report these days. That’s why you haven’t seen a new video from me in a while. I’ll get a new one out next week though, covering the fertilization and staking issues I’ve been using for my tomatoes and peppers.
My friend found a bug that looks like the nymph you posted. Would you be able to look at a picture of her bug, and tell me if it is indeed a nymph?
Joe Lamp'l says
Ohhh, he’s a scary one TC! What did you do…shoot him, spray him or feed him and send him on his way? I know you and Felder are good buds and I’m sure it was fun to have him stop by, especially in his “traveling garden”!
Regarding the real pests, as summer wears on, the squash bugs are gaining a stronghold and starting to take their toll on the cukes. I continue to wage manual assault against them and I think I’m holding my ground, but the heat and humidity is offering its own set of challenges. On the bright side, the tomato plants are flush with many fruit and I can’t wait to start harvesting a consistent daily supply.
A favorite summer pastime of mine is waiting for the harvest. And like you, I too venture out daily with my camera to see what bug or other tiny critter might be lurking in the garden.
Yesterday evenin I had a rather big garden critter stop by, Felder Rushing paid us a quick visit in his “traveling garden,” equipped with bottle trees and even a wind chime.
Joe Lamp'l says
Daphne, I think the caterpillar larva are easy to miss, especially when they are young and small. Now that I know they are there, I still have to hunt for them amongst the dill. I count them several times each day to make sure they are all still alright!
But I am glad to have found them as this young stage because I do intend to document the progress, all the way until they take flight, and hopefully even after that.
Joe Lamp'l says
Ellen, I did look at your contest and don’t feel worthy. I have been known to take a decent picture every now and then, but this year, the herbs are a distant second to the veggie stars of the garden. But, now that I’ve been poked, I’ll see if I can come up with a contest-worthy shot. I don’t know though, Joe De Sciose as judge is pretty high cotton. Not sure I can measure up I’ll see what I can come up with. Thanks for the challenge!
Love the photos of the caterpillar. I have dill all over the garden. I use it for pickles (lots and lots of it), but am always happy to share. Last year I had quite a few of the caterpillars in the garden. This year I saw the eggs and butterflies, but never the larvae. I was pretty sad not to be able to watch them grow up this year. I suppose I should be happy that the good guys are keeping all caterpillars under control.
Ellen Zachos says
Hey Joe, it looks like you have some herbs in that $25 garden you’re growing. And since you’ve also got some photographic skills, perhaps you’d like to enter our contest: http://www.gardenbytes.com/2009/07/photo-contest-blue-ribbon-herbs.html
Joe Lamp'l says
Well Deborah, thanks for your comments which are, in turn, inspirational to me. As much as I enjoy all of this, the best part are the comments like yours that provide some solid validation! Thanks for the updates. I always enjoy them.
Who knew gardening could be so dangerous? There’s a rather large snapping turtle that sometimes hangs out in our community garden. Now, when hopping the fence or reaching under the squash plants to harvest, I look first to make sure I’m not in harm’s way. Guess I have to watch out for nymphs now, too 🙂
Once again, I’ve been inspired by what you’re doing with this project. I found my old kitchen scale and have started weighing what I harvest. So even though I’ve spent much more than $15, I’m sure I’ll be satisfied with the return on the investment. I’m also motivated to really use what I grow, as opposed to unintentionally letting the excess harvest go to waste because I don’t get around to eating it right away. Yesterday I blanched and froze two pounds of snap beans and a huge bunch of basil. I have to look into a local food pantry for the surplus from the squash and cucumber “factories”!
Joe Lamp'l says
Mike, whew! Well, after just reading a Thomas Jefferson quote, I only have this to offer: “The failure of one plant or crop is replaced by the success of another”. You’ve been hit pretty hard here by all the forces of nature. But I know you are a die-hard gardener and continue on, taking those challenges and turning them into opportunities. Sounds like your cool season crops did well and I look forward to the same later this year. Thanks so much for the informative update.
Mike Taylor says
You asked about our garden status, successes and failures…
My failures this year mostly stem from weather, fur-bearing pests and aphids.
I made the mistake of driving my drip systems far beyond my ability to reach plants with a hose. Not being able to wash down the aphids that attacked the fava beans let them grow and spread to the chard. Interesting note: the yellow ‘neon glow’ chard is unaffected by the aphids while the red varieties are covered…
Squirrels and rabbits have been a real pain. They have eaten all the lettuce and cucumbers I can grow and almost all the melons. They have consumed an entire 110′ rows of plants over night. They prefer certain varieties over others, unfortunately, ours tastes are the same and the ones I want most, they eat first…
Our weather was, like everybody’s, really messed up this year. Volunteer tomatoes, that came up at New Year’s, have been producing tomatoes for a couple of months, but the ones I waited to plant are 4′ tall but just now beginning to ripen fruit.
Fruit trees ripened fruit two months early, and this had a negative impact on birds. Several species use the fruit to feed their young, and there was a serious amount of contention for the remaining fruit.
We did have good luck with garlic, onions, beets, artichokes, a few Brussels sprouts, carrots, radishes, peas and beans, plus sapotes, citrus, guavas, etc. I also managed to recover a number of distressed trees suffering from a combination of heat, wind and gopher love, and the summer weather has just hit.
Joe Lamp'l says
I had never heard of or seen this nymph before either. So, that’s a testament to their desire to stay undercover. As I said, they are not uncommon in the eastern United States, yet I’ve gardened most of my life and this was the first time I’ve seen on in person.
Now, you’ve reminded me I need to go check my parsley!
I’ll look forward a lot to hearing about your staking issues with the tomatoes. Our plants got HUGE (4 ft. high) and are falling over, despite my best attempts!
Jeph Remley says
BEAUTIFUL picture of the swallowtail caterpillar. In previous years I’ve always had some beautiful caterpillars on my parsley plants, which I’m more than happy to share… No sightings yet this year.
CREEPY picture of the nymph. I’ve never heard of those…and am not sure how I’d feel about having them in my garden considering that recovery time you mention! I guess you just have to keep your eyes open, right?