Saturday, August 8, 2009

Morning in the Garden After Rains

The harvest is really coming in well now. I have four good-sized zucchinis in my kitchen right now, including these two, and I picked my first cucumber today. I hadn't picked cherry tomatoes for a couple of days, and at least a pintful were ripe and ready for my helper and me this morning.

Yesterday morning's and last night's heavy rainfalls, much needed this year, caused about some of the ripest Sun Golds to split. The delicious Sun Golds have a thin skin, which probably accounts for it. I also have a red grape variety, which doesn't seem as susceptible. I'll wash the split ones well and use them quickly so they don't start to rot. (We're thinking of gazpacho.) The usual advice for avoiding split tomatoes is to water evenly, but some varieties are more vulnerable to splitting than others.

It didn't help that I set the basket down on the grass while examining the cucumbers, and then stepped backward onto it. Squelch! Only a couple got really squashed, though.

I haven't yet picked a yellow squash, but maybe tomorrow. What a profusion of blossoms.

We noticed a couple of bumblebees, an unidentified creature that gave the impression of a large bee with very long legs, an ant with wings (my son saw that one; I didn't), a Monarch butterfly on the joe-pye weed (above) , and a soldier beetle on my sage plant (below).

I looked up the soldier beetle in Rodale's Color Handbook of Garden Insects, as I didn't recognize it. It's also known as Pennsylvania leather-wing (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus). This beneficial garden insect feeds on grasshopper eggs, cucumber beetles, and various caterpillars. One writer in the New York Times said it "annoys me with its habit of mating and then dying in the flowers. It seems to prefer the everlastings, and I find its sere remains (the color holds beautifully) when I arrange the statice for winter bouquets."
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Christopher Tassava said...

Gorgeous flowers, food, and bugs! Thanks for ID'ing the soldier bug, too. I've seen those in our (much more modest) flowerbeds, and wondered what they are. Now I know!

Anonymous said...

These are very beautiful flowers..
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