Mmm, fall. There is so much lovely, wistful, achy beauty in the weeks ahead, as the Green Nation begins to flare into its finale for the season. There is a chill in the evening air. The very first maples - mostly the sickly ones - are turning their fiery reds, so striking against the strong clear blue of September sky. Much green still remains for now.
So in the garden, too, where we have the okra still growing away, as it will until the first frost. It is one of my favorite crops to grow, and just look how gorgeous its flowers are!
Okra are in the Mallow Family, Malvaceae, which also includes Hibiscus (you can see the similarities in the flowers), cotton, and cacao. Often associated with the Southern US, there are varieties which can handle the shorter summers of the Northeast. It has been easy to grow in our garden - almost too easy! This next shot shows an okra that we missed while harvesting that has grown waay too big.
The size you should harvest this variety is when they are as long as the wood handle of the knife... this guy is too tough and woody, unfortunately, and headed to the compost pile. That's really the hardest part about growing okra, I think, just making sure you find all the ones hiding under leaves or otherwise hidden from view...
We did learn late in the season that there are times you can thin out some leaves, which definitely helps to keep an eye on all those growing pods. Mm. Such a cool plant! I've seen a lot of wasps in and on the flowers, some ants too...
In other news from the insect world, say hi to this little guy!
This is an Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar, also sometimes known as a Parsley Worm, because, yep, the host plant that a female butterfly will lay her eggs on is often Parsley - or Dill, Fennel or Rue. Hmm. All things that we'd like to not have devoured by the little guys.
So we sacrificed one pot of Parsley and left two of the caterpillars there, and the other five (did I mention there were seven of them?) we relocated them to Queen Anne's Lace, another host food of theirs. I'm hoping all these little guys make it through their lifecycle before it gets too chilly! Good luck, little caterpillars! May you make beautiful butterflies someday! (A cool look at the life cycle of these butterflies here.)
One last pic for the week - just look how charming these purple spots are on the Mountain Mint! I can't take the cute!
Nature is just so amazing. That's why all of us here at Tidy Thyme love to share our experiences in the green and growing world with you. So breathe in the first crisp air, feel it expand in your lungs, and exhale with joy as we turn into this autumntide.
Be well, friends!
The Tidy Thyme Crew
The Tidy Thyme Crew