Monday, September 8, 2008

Thyme time, big bites, green tangerine

As I went out this morning, my first thought was that I would not find anything worth discussing for this week's blog, as this is the slowest time for my gardens. In fact, however, I had to really weed out the photos I took, as I found moon flowers and balloon flowers, pineapple guava fruit, a half ripe melon on a vine planted by a passing bird, spiny seed pods, and Rose of Sharon flowers in full glory. The photos I chose for you show three types of thyme, two tangerines getting ready to ripen, and a collard plant missing big chunks of leaf where a hungry cabbage moth larvae had dinner.
The thyme is ready to harvest and dry carefully in a low over to use in sauces and on fish. The thyme itself stays green much, if not all of the year, so sometimes I use it fresh and sometimes dried. Note that one variety is short and hugs the ground, another tall and upright. You can choose your thyme for both taste and stature!
The pineapple guava fruit, along with the tangerines and orangequats, are starting to swell, and they all look beautiful. It has been so dry that many of the young fruit have dropped off each of these trees/shrubs, but luckily a few remain. I hope that they are able to ripen this winter, and that the plants themselves continue to survive our colder days. A lemon tree has now been added, and the grapefruit has struggled back again from the roots, and is now about 18 inches tall. It is fun to watch these tropicals thrive in my not so tropical setting. I am hoping that our winters stay mild for awhile, as these get fully established. Older trees sometimes survive winter temperatures that would kill younger trees.
Finally, the brocolli and collard plants have been visited by those lovely yellow butterflies that leave behind eggs to hatch into cabbage moth caterpillars: voracious eaters of all things in the cole crop family (cabbage, collards, brocolli, kale and such). The caterpillars grow quickly, and eat more and more each day. I treat with Bt, a disease of caterpillars, when the chomping begins. You can purchase Bt at many garden stores. It works, and has the added benefit of not harming any other insect.
We had very little wind, and almost no rain, from Hannah. It is dry in all my beds, and I have been waiting to seed the garden until we have some moisture in the soil. If there is no rain this week, I will have to flood the garden from the rain barrels, as time to plant is running out.
The chickens and bees send their regards.