July Gardening Update

Hello! July is always our slowest vegetable gardening month.  If the humidity and heat won’t keep you out of the garden, the mosquitos and thunderstorms will.   Other than my herbs, fennel, sweet potatoes, and a few peppers, we don’t have much in the garden foodwise.

However, we have flowers! It seems like everything is in bloom right now. 

 

Even our Elephant Ear Taro is blooming…

At my oldest daughter’s request, we have been gardening for insects this summer. This month we turned our largest garden box into a flower garden.  The little gardeners have been watching butterflies lay eggs, wasps eat caterpillars and lady beetles eat aphids. Here’s what one wasp left of a Monarch caterpillar… 

Our little robin nest is no more.  After Mama robin feverishly built her nest, sat on her eggs, and starting feeding her three little babies… they disappeared.  It happened one night.  The nest was undisturbed. The babies were barely old enough to hold their heads up, so we know they didn’t fly away.  My best guess would be a snake. She had built the nest in an old tire  I was using as a hanging garden, and it was only a few feet off the ground.  We have seen several large snakes in the area this month.  We have since moved the hanging tire garden to higher ground, and are hoping she tries again next year.  On the left below is Mama sitting on her eggs.  On the right below is the babies.

 

The most exciting thing in garden this month is the Monarch butterflies & caterpillars.  The Monarch caterpillars, who only eat milkweed are starving!  With milkweed populations depleted across the states, Monarch butterflies swarm milkweed plants to lay their eggs.  We started milkweed seeds back in the spring and have six plants. They have been eaten to the ground twice. There isn’t enough food for all the eggs that are laid on our plants. The positive note, the little gardeners have had a fabulous nature lesson the Monarchs and their life cycle this summer. We have seen eggs hatch before our eyes, caterpillars grow to two inches in size, and then disappear to make their chrysalis. We have found some of the chrysalis and are now patiently waiting to see Monarch butterflies emerge.  I will write a detailed post on our Monarch adventures soon! 

We were also published on EcoEtsy this month discussing Gardening for Insects.  Check it out for helpful info on growing gardens for bees and butterflies!

At the beginning of the summer we added solar lights in the front yard.  I can’t believe we waited so long.  We always come home to a light on!  I want more for the backyard now. 

Keep cool and enjoy the rest of your July!

Bee

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by melissambarnett on July 22, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I love your insect garden plan! Beautiful flowers too.

    But I had to laugh when you mentioned sweet potato! With edible leaves and roots, I often joke that it’s our sweet potato patch that would save us from starvation. It’s the only vegetable that survives our summer heat waves and dry spells here in Western Australia. The smallest undiscovered tuber sprouts and takes over again in no time. Seems you can’t kill it in Florida either!

    I think sweet potato is delicious roasted in wedges & served with cumin youghurt. (if you can stand having the oven on in the heat!)

    I hope the cool finds you soon…
    Melissa

    Reply

    • Yes, you can always grow sweet potatoes in Florida. :) My little gardeners keep waiting for their pretty purple flowers this summer. We all love to dig them up. The cool probably won’t find us until November. LOL But thanks! :)

      Reply

  2. Yes Bee we also have a somewhat depleted South Florida garden… sweet potatoes in my backyard and the enormous Calabaza pumpkins, a few onions left and one struggling tomato plant.

    Melissa, I didn’t know that sweet potato leaves were edible, or if I did, I forgot (senior moments), I’ll have to get it a whirl.

    Reply

    • I have heard Calabaza flowers go well in quesadillas Dawn! I wish we had pumpkins! I didn’t have the space this year, but we are working on that. Yes, sweet potato leaves and shoots are edible, but nothing is as good as that tuber. ;)

      Reply

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