July Buzz

At the beginning of July, I was wondering if any butterflies other than the red admirals would ever make their way to the garden. 

By mid July, I knew the answer was yes. They took their time but, suddenly, there were swallowtails, monarchs, painted ladies, and a few skippers here and there.

I spotted a new-to-me spicebush swallowtail, which took me awhile to identify. Of course, I submitted the sighting to Butterflies and Moths of North America for verification.

And the eastern tiger swallowtail nectaring deep in the daylily was surprising and just really, really cool to watch.

Beans are still the stars of the vegetable garden with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers catching up.

The bigger tomatoes, including the green zebras and red Siberians, are taking their own sweet time.

Not sure if it was the rain or the cooler June, but cucumber beetles have not been a problem like in previous years. I’m still squishing a few every morning but the cucumber plants are producing like crazy.

You know what isn’t? Summer squash! Can you believe it? I have 5 or 6 various types of zucchini and summer squash plants throughout the garden and only one zucchini plant is giving me much to harvest at this point. I gave all the plants a good soaking of worm compost tea so, finger crossed, they’ll start doing their thing.

What I’m…

Harvesting: Bush and pole green beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, radishes (planted in the shade of tomato plants), jalapeños, Chinese 5 color peppers, tomatillos, basil, and lemon balm. Wonder what I’m forgetting?

Making: Burrata and tomatoes with basil – easy summertime side dish. More like assembling than making, which makes it even better after a hot day in the garden.

Reading: Talking Dirt by Annie Spiegelman. It’s a quick read about organic gardening. When I’m not gardening, I’m reading about gardening.

Wanting: An easy way to keep the squirrels and chipmunks from sampling the tomatoes. I’m using a DIY mint & cayenne pepper spray, which seems to help. I’ve also covered a few of the plants with tulle. Realistically, I know the animals will always sample the fruits and veggies. Sigh.

Looking Forward to: Lima beans in August!

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Thinking Thursday: Gut Punch(es)

Butterflies Are Disappearing

Don’t get me started (again, my husband would add) about the lack of butterflies in the garden so far. I spotted red admirals in early May and figured the rest of the butterflies would be following soon. 

Well, I was wrong. I realize I don’t spend every waking minute in my yard—although I try to—but the lack of butterflies makes me sad. And concerns me and others.

This recently published study, which found an average population decline of 2 percent per year in Ohio’s butterfly populations, was/is an emotional gut punch. There are a couple bright spots in the study, though:

  • Butterflies found in Southern Ohio seem to be doing better than northern butterflies. Perhaps this is because they’re used to the warmer weather we generally have in the southern part of the state?
  • Some butterfly populations have increased. For example, the wild indigo duskywing “is doing really well in Ohio because a plant it eats is used as erosion control on construction sites. It’s three times more numerous now than it was 20 years ago.”

I believe that anything I do personally can make a difference, which is why we don’t use pesticides and I have made an effort to plant native, pollinator-friendly plants in addition to the vegetable and fruit plants. But there are times I wonder if my small wins actually DO make a difference.

Eastern tiger swallowtail

Bye Bye Bee Census

I keep thinking about the canary in the coal mine. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the miners hurry up and get out of the coal mine if the canary died?

The USDA is temporarily suspending data collection for the annual Honeybee Colonies Report due to budget cuts.

While I’m all about helping ALL bees, are honeybees our new canary in a coal mine metaphor?

Bee on butterflyweed
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