This morning, I purchased some flowers, peppers and parsley from the nursery. Since I always run out of fresh parsley, I had to get another plant while I’m waiting for the seeds to grow. When I looked at the parsley plant, I’ve noticed I had a Black Swallowtail caterpillar munching on a leaf. I don’t mind taking the caterpillar home with me. Now, my parsley will go for the wildlife, again. This evening, I’ll look for a wasting basket to transfer the Black Swallowtail caterpillar over to my dill plant. I don’t want Mr. Cardinal knocking on the door for this particular kind of food. There are still plenty of other goodies for the Cardinal Family in my garden. I have to cover the plant up to protect the Black Swallowtail, until it turns into a chrysalis. Then I can bring it into my greenhouse to become a beautiful butterfly. Once it is ready for the outdoors, the girls and I will name it and release it into the wild.
Since my second bed was put together by the church gardeners, all I had to do is plant some tomatoes, peppers, basil, tomatillos, etc. But I also planted more flowers for our pollinators in the first bed. Last year, we had bees and beautiful butterflies visiting the garden. I would like to see, if a hummingbird is coming over for a visit as well. Pollinators are so important for a vegetable/fruit garden. Some plants get wind pollinated, others need a little help from our insect and bird friends. While most of the flowers still have to grow, before they will bloom; I captured photos of some flowers, which are in bloom right now. And of course, the vegetables are growing very well too.
Due to the rains in February and the warmer temperatures in March, our lawn looks like a meadow. We have henbit, chickweed, dandelion, blue field madder, baby blue eyes, wood sorrel/oxalis, and many other little blooms flourish in the yard. Of course there are blooms, what some gardeners consider as weeds. Because they are very invasive and hard to get rid off in a “perfect” yard/garden. What a lot of people don’t know is that some of these plants are edible. Here are some examples of the plants from our yard.
- Henbit can be eaten fresh or cooked, and be used in teas. It is very nutritious, high in iron, vitamins and fiber. Henbit can be added to salads, wraps, and soups. But it shouldn’t be consumed in high amounts, because it is a laxative.
- Common Chickweed leaves can be added to sandwiches and salads. They are also good for soups and stews.
- Wood Sorrel/Oxalis can be used to spice up salads. It should not be eaten in extensive amounts, since it can cause kidney stones in some people.
- Dandelion can be used in salads, tea, and as coffee. While it taste like coffee it doesn’t contain any caffeine.
It is getting warmer in Texas. In the beginning of the week it still felt like Winter. By the end it will feel like late Spring/early Summer. But I still have to keep a close eye to the temperatures, since we still get 30s and 40s (-1ºC to +9ºC) some nights. During the day it is wonderful to get everything ready for the Spring garden.
Today, I decided to plant my tomatoes a little bit deeper. Their roots are not as established, yet. I still could dig around the roots and drop them with some Epsom salt lower into the soil. The peppers will bloom soon. I found some good size buds on them. And the rest, which were planted earlier is doing very well in the raised beds. Our plants are growing. I finally planted the cauliflower and kohlrabi in one of the beds. Since I lost them to a freeze last December, I was very hesitant until now. When it gets too cool, I have to cover them. We easily could get another cold snap here in North Texas in mid-April. The magic temperature number is 55ºF (13ºC) for the tomatoes. When the ‘maters get covered, the cauliflowers, kohlrabi and peppers will get covered as well.
The last couple of days, I was very busy in the garden. I planted tomatoes, peppers, brussels sprouts, chard, snow peas and herbs. Despite it might be a little early for the tomatoes and peppers, I put them in the ground anyway. Tomorrow, I have to put up a cold frame. Because we supposed to have a few nights with temperatures in the mid 30s (3ºC). But I didn’t want to wait too much longer, and we might have a good chance that we get some vegetables before the heat comes into North Texas, again.
In the meantime, we enjoy the blooms inside the greenhouse. It always feels good to see some color, even during the cooler months of Winter. The Narcissus are all in bloom; the Gazania blossom looks so beautiful; the Sweet Williams are coming back; and the Tulips will start blooming any day, now.
At this time of the year, the basil plants are at their peaks. The basil blooms are all over my yard. I have some plants, I let bloom out and go to seed. Other basil plants I snip the blossom off for better leaf growth. The plant can concentrate on the leaves; they turn dark green and thicker. I use lots of basil for spaghetti sauces, meat and egg dishes. And just rubbing the fingers on a basil leaf is so refreshing, when I work in the garden.