Gardening August 2017

From Mélie’s Garden

It is hard to believe that summer is halfway over. All the planning and dreaming throughout the winter has been rewarded…or not all that successful. The weather this year has been difficult since it took the soil a long time to warm up; then it was very wet at the beginning of the summer…then very hot and humid! The tomatoes in the garden are only now beginning to turn red. My roses were lovely until mid-July and then were damaged by fungus in all the humidity. I fought a constant battle with a pheasant that flew into my vegetable garden and ate every pea seed I planted and even the ones that sprouted. Next year, I will have to cover the newly planted rows with lightweight garden fabric to protect them. However, my grandchildren have harvested tons of broccoli from their little garden and we seem to have delicious zucchini. All part of the mystery and challenge of vegetable gardening!

Click on any image to enlarge.

The biggest problem we have faced on our property this summer is Black Swallow Wart vines that have invaded our flowerbeds and have thrived growing in our hedges. My grandson, Harris, has been invaluable lying on his stomach and pulling out the vines from the hedge. We have tied them together with red tape to mark them; we then go back and cut off the tops where the flowers and seedpods are and place those in a plastic garbage bag. I then spray the bottom of the vine with Roundup using my Jerry’s Weed Stick. I hate to use Roundup, but I use it very sparingly and the Weed Stick has a cup at the end, which keeps the spray on the vine and it will not affect any of the plant material surrounding it. This is unbelievably tedious work, but there simply doesn’t seem to be any other way of getting rid of the Black Swallow Wart. Even Doug Tallamy* suggested this procedure and Carl Scroxton of Race Rock said that he had read that the Swallow Wart vine was toxic to Monarch Butterflies, so all the more reason to try to get rid of it.

One happy event this summer was capturing on a parsley plant a Parsley Caterpillar. We placed it in a glass jar and fed him parsley for a couple of days. A few days later, he seemed to want to climb out of the jar, so we secured a piece of screen over the top. The caterpillar then attached himself to the screen and formed a chrysalis. One morning, we came down to breakfast and there in the jar was a beautiful butterfly, which we released into our garden and we hope it will not lay eggs on any Black Swallow Wart Vines!

*Doug Tallamy has visited the Island many times and has worked with the Conservancy on the rehabilitation of the Parade Grounds in the Fort. He is the author of Bringing Nature Home and is Professor of Entomology at the University of Delaware.

   

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