Butterflies, Herbs and Cleaning Up

I was in the garden today and Jeremy showed me these two swallowtail caterpillars on the dill in his plot. I had noticed another on parsley in another plot.swallowtailcaterpillars

An adult swallowtail lays eggs on plants that will provide food for the caterpillars. These include dill, parsley, fennel, Queen Anne’s Lace, and carrots which is one of the reasons I included some of these plants in our Family Gardening Program plots. Look around these plants for caterpillars and you may be lucky and see one.

From the time the eggs are laid to when the caterpillar creates a chrysalis is about 14 days. Once the chrysalis is formed, it takes about 2 more weeks before a butterfly emerges. You will know the chrysalis is nearing the time it will open when it becomes transparent. It is hard work for the butterfly to emerge and when it does it will stay in place for a while and dry its wings. This is a great time to get photos.

Communal Herb Garden

Plot34My first order of business this morning was moving herbs to plot #34. This will be the communal herb plot for all Moreau Community Garden gardeners. Right now dill, thyme, marjoram, cilantro, basil and tarragon are growing in the bed. Some will reseed, some won’t and others are hardy enough that they will come back next year.

Having a communal bed means we don’t all have to grow these herbs, gardeners can take a snippet or two as needed from the communal bed.

If you have a hardy herb to share — such as Greek oregano — please feel free to add it to plot 34. But don’t add any invasive herbs, such as mint or lemon balm. These would take over and defeat our goal.

Cleaning up after Early Blight

As you clean tomatoes that have early blight out of your plots, remember that you need to remove the roots as well. I noticed that some people are clearing their plots but not weeding or removing roots. Early Blight can overwinter on plant debris, so it is important that everyone be meticulous and do a good job cleaning our beds and the weeds around them.

We are expecting a delivery of cow manure. When it arrives, add it to your cleaned bed and work it into the soil. The nutrients and microbes in the manure will do wonders to improve the health of our garden.

The donation of the cow manure is coming from Todd Kusnierz – one of our Town Board members – and is truly appreciated. It will really help improve the soil.

Berry Good Shortcake Using Herbs

This is it. The one. The winner for an upcoming garden party dessert. Yum.

While I like the lemon thyme pound cake, it didn’t shout: “Party Dessert.” It said, “Brunch on a Summer Weekend.”

This berry shortcake recipe however, is pretty to look at, tasty to eat and screams “I’m dressed to the nines for this party.”

And with some of the ingredients coming right from the garden, such as lemon balm in the batter, strawberries, blueberries, and sweet woodruff sprigs, this dessert deserves to be a guest of honor at the garden party.

The recipe is one of herbalist Susan Belsinger’s creations. If you love growing herbs, you need her cookbooks. It is as simple as that. They are must-haves for anyone wanting to use the herbs they are growing and perhaps planting a specific herb in order to try one of the recipes in her books.

She is a master at using herbs and edible flowers in the kitchen. Check out her website: http://www.susanbelsinger.com

I can’t tell you how many times I have used her books as my “go-to” guides.

She used strawberries in the following recipe. I added blueberries for more color. We’re talking about a party after all.

You can find Belsinger’s recipe at The Vegetable Gardener website http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/13822/homemade-strawberry-shortcakes-with-herbs-and-whipped-cream. They have a great photo of the strawberry shortcake there.

Plant Donations!

I received an email from a fellow master gardener Maureen Rice offering to donate plants left over from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Saratoga Springs plant sale. And this morning I picked up tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuces and more for the 15 plots at the Moreau Community Garden that will be gardened by families and children.

Thank you very much!

SidMemorialDayThen I stopped by the Saratoga Springs Community Garden at Wesley and ran into Sid planting lettuces in his plot. It seemed fitting to take a picture of him with his garden and flag this Memorial Day, a day of we remember the men and women who died while serving our country.

Herb Garden Report – Dill

I noticed the dill seed I planted in plot #41 is sprouting.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is a member of the carrot family. In ancient times, dill was used to treat insomnia and digestive problems. The name dill means “to lull” and I was once told that during colonial times, dill was given to restless children during long Sunday services.

Today, dill is added to salad dressing, fish, vegetables, soups and used to pickle vegetables such as cucumbers.

While, I enjoy adding it to meals, I also like the way the feathery foliage looks in a garden. This is one herb that can be grown between perennials for its delicate texture and yellow flowers, which are long-lasting in a bouquet.

To grow dill, plant the seeds in full sun. Once a couple of inches tall, the seedlings pictured below will need to be thinned to one plant per every three inches.  The seedlings need to be watered regularly, but once the roots are well established, dill should only need a good soaking once a week.

What’s growing in your garden?

Great Morning in the Garden

The garden was hopping this morning. I ran into other gardeners busy tending their plots as well as visitors who came by just to enjoy the new created community garden.

In between speaking to my gardening neighbors, I planted box number 41 with herbs and edible plants and the large center box (#44) near the entrance with beans surrounded by flowers and herbs. In the herb-edible plants garden (pictured above) are planted low-growing sunflowers (24 to 36 inches tall), a rhubarb, marigolds, cilantro, lime basil, marjoram, dill, sage, parsley, and thyme.

In the large middle bed, I planted two rows of bush beans – one purple and one green – and snapdragons, zinnias and parsley.  A lot of parsley was planted because it is a larval food for butterflies and I am hoping to attract as many as possible to our garden. Also, parsley tastes great.

The purple and green beans were shared with me by fellow gardeners Helen and Sid Gordon. Thank you.