How many of us need to learn mindfulness and appreciation in the garden? Everyone is in such a rush and our world moves so quickly. Do we ever take time for mindfulness and appreciation in the garden? I am writing in memory of my father who recently died. He taught me a love of gardening. I will always be thankful for this gift of love. He did some quirky things like using fish as garden fertilizer. By remembering his behavior I could learn a subtle lesson. I have not mastered this lesson yet. He was excellent in this behavior and didn’t need any lessons in mindfulness and appreciation in the garden.
Mindfulness and Appreciation in the Garden Demonstration
After any job or project in the garden my father would sit in his lawn chair and have a beer. Then he would just look over what he had accomplished. It didn’t matter whether it was building his sheds, roto-tilling the garden, burying fish, axing out a huge stump, or planting tomato seedlings. My father would always sit afterwards and look over what he had done. I realize now that he was modeling lessons in mindfulness and appreciation. It would be very beneficial to me if I could learn how to do this.
Always Rushing From One Task to the Next…
In my busy life I have lots of goals. We all do! I always say let’s celebrate when we accomplish a goal. One example is after we picked all the tomatoes and peppers from our garden before the first frost. I want to take the time to acknowledge that we finished and did a good job. I want to be mindful of our task and appreciate that we have all these great vegetables near the end of November. Then have some relaxation as a reward for finishing. But I often don’t really acknowledge the ending. I just move on to the next task. I would like to learn from my father how to take the time for mindfulness and appreciation in the garden after tasks finished and well done. Maybe we could sit in our lawn chairs, look over the bowls filled with our harvest, look over our garden that has produced so much this summer–and be mindful and appreciate. And maybe have a glass of wine or a beer and enjoy!
This is another great article about mindfulness in the garden–a different approach!
This is an update on an earlier blog post when bush leaves emerged in the winter. In January of this year we had some very warm days. I noticed buds ready to open and small baby leaves that did emerge near where I work. I was worried that a future frost kills new leaves and then the tree wouldn’t have any leaves the next spring. I started watching them to see what would happen; if the colder days ahead would kill the new leaves eventually….
Is My Worry that Frost Kills New Leaves Going to Happen
For a while the leaves were OK even when the temperature went below freezing at night. Eventually the leaves died because it was too cold. In the spring I checked again and many more leaves did emerge. Here is a picture of the new growth. You can see a small remnant of one brown dead leaf. So I don’t worry so much when leaves emerge now during warm days in the dead of winter. Hopefully this phenomenon applies to all trees and bushes. Of course, there is no new growth when fruit tree flowers freeze and die because of a late frost. The farmer at our local farmer’s market lost a lot of his apricots this year because of a late frost.
For more information click here How Trees Survive the Winter.
Carrots and Black Swallowtail butterflies are very connected in a way that I never knew about. Late last summer, I learned why there is a good second reason to grow carrots (check out last post) besides just to harvest carrots. This happened totally in a serendipitous way. I was sitting on my porch where the planter is and a Black Swallowtail butterfly kept landing on the carrots leaves. He would land on one, stay a minute and then flit away and then come back and land on another. He kept doing this.
What is this about Carrots and Black Swallowtail Butterflies??
When I examined a leaf, lo and behold there was a tiny butterfly egg on it. You can see the little white ball on the leaf! So I guess it was no “he” but a she and she was laying plenty of eggs!! Wow this was exciting!! I didn’t know that carrots were a host plant for the Black Swallowtail butterfly. Host plants include dill, celery, parsley, Queen Ann’s lace, wild carrot, anise and parsnips and I guess regular carrots though they weren’t listed in Wikipedia. So here we were with lots of Black Swallowtail eggs on our carrot plants. Hmm… Carrots and Black Swallowtail Butterflies who would have imagined!! I knew about Monarchs and Milkweed which I had growing in another part of my garden but I didn’t know that carrots were a host plant for Black Swallowtail butterflies. What a wonderful way to find out!! Live and learn all the time!!
Carrots and Black Swallowtail Butterflies Continued!
So I started keeping an eye on all these eggs that this butterfly laid. Small little black furry caterpillars emerged. They were so small at first, they were barely noticeable. Then they started eating the carrot foliage. It wasn’t so bad at first. But then there were a lot of them and they got bigger and bigger. There are different stages of caterpillars for the Black Swallowtail butterfly. At first they look totally different than what they end up being. Not like the Monarch caterpillar that maintains its same look throughout the caterpillar transformations. At first they are black and furry and then they end up being very smooth and colorful. There are pictures of all the instar larval stages at this link for the Black Swallowtail butterfly.
I was starting to get a little upset because these caterpillars were just going to town on the carrot leaves. I could see that there would be none left. So you can see from the picture on the left that I was correct. Then I thought that they would probably grow back (which they eventually did). I fantasized about bringing some caterpillars in the house to protect them from predators but I didn’t know if I had enough carrot leaves to feed them. I also thought if I pick carrot leaves to feed them in the house the leaves would die quickly, they are rather delicate.Then they would have nothing to eat. Carrot leaves are not like milkweed leaves. Milkweed leaves last for a few days after you pick them. In the end it all worked out. The caterpillars had enough to eat. They all left when it was time to make their chrysalis. One caterpillar crawled up on our porch brick wall and made a chrysalis. It is still there.
I read that if they make a chrysalis in late summer they will overwinter and emerge in the spring. So I am waiting….. Here is a pic of the chrysalis. If you look very closely you can see the silk that is attaching it to the wall. I hope that I get to see this butterfly emerge.
So as you can see growing carrots was a great experience in more ways than one. We did harvest nice, fat carrots and we got lots of Black Swallowtail caterpillars to watch. It was a great learning adventure! I will definitely plant more carrots this year for us and the butterflies!!