Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mmmmmm... Parsley and Cucumbers that won't Grow Up

That's what my friend Ms. (or Mr.) Papilio polyxenes (aka Black Swallowtail) has to say:

 The parsley this lovely caterpillar is eating was some I cut and entered, along with the yarrow sharing the "vase", into the County Fair Hort Show a couple weeks ago.  Since then it's been sitting on my dining room table and this morning I noticed the water they were in was filled with little round pellets.  Had one of the plants produced seeds?  And then I noticed my caterpillar friend and it all made sense.  It was frass (aka caterpillar poop)!  He must have just been an egg or very small instar hanging on the leaves when I cut them to go to the fair.  Kinda cool that he/she's been just hanging out, self contained, on these couple sprigs of parsley on my dining table:0).  I didn't really want to hatch a full grown Black Swallowtail in my dining room however, so I put him out in one of my parsley patches. I'm hoping he'll stick around and build a chrysalis soon so I can watch. Fun!

In other garden news, I learned something this week.  A majority of my cucumbers have withered and browned while still small which has been pretty sad and frustrating.  I investigated the problem and discovered that it was because the female flowers (those with the cucumbers behind them) weren't being pollinated.   This could be because of a dearth of pollinators (in which case you can pollinate manually with a paint brush) or in my case I think it's because of a dearth of male flowers (those without a cucumber behind it).  Currently there is only one male flower and a bunch of female flowers.  Not much I can do this year but next year I think I will plant more cucumber plants and also plant some more flowers around the area to make sure it's a happy place for pollinators.  Then I'll have more cucumbers than I know what to do with:0)  Feast or famine, feast or famine...

Learned anything new in the gardening arena?  Learned anything new period?

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