I gave a few garden tours to friends this week. It is always nice to give a garden tour. When I walk around the garden weeding, harvesting, problem-solving, or watering, all I see is a to-do list. The cabbages need weeding, the tomatoes need more tying-up, the okra needs more heat. But when friends come to see the garden, I get to see so many different things. I forget that most people don't grow as many tomato plants as I do, or that seeing 16 different varieties is a novelty. I love when people see an Amish Cockscomb bloom up close for the first time, or taste a Ground Cherry, or see the neon extravagance of the Celosia in the garden. To have friends take pictures of the garden makes me so happy. And it makes the work worth it, even when in the back of my mind, I worry that there will be no ripe tomatoes, or that I will lose the war against the grasses.
Rich weed-whacked the garden this weekend, which always makes it look instantly better. He mentioned while giving a tour of the garden last week how something was eating our kale. And indeed, the kale that had been robust and thick last week was suddenly hole-ridden and disappearing. Sunday morning I set out to figure out what was wrong. Caterpillars. You know those pretty little white butterflies that fly around the garden? Well their spawn love the cabbage family. And while they haven't found my cabbage patch, they did find the kale. And they went to town: hundreds of little white-striped caterpillars feasting on the undersides of my kale leaves. I pulled them off and squished them. (They popped in quite a satisfactory way.) By the time I was done, my hands were stained green with their chlorophyll-rich blood. I have made a couple of quick return trips and killed a few more, but I am now hopeful the kale will live to see the frost. It reminded me that gardening isn't just growing plants, it is picking which plants (& creatures) live that defines gardening.
The pictures below: 1) The kale patch Sunday morning, pre-massacre. 2) One of the larger caterpillars. 3) Most leaves had three, five, or even ten caterpillars of varying size (whole families I killed) feasting.
So I close with a chorus of tree frogs through the open windows. It really is a lovely evening, even if none of my tomatoes are ripening...