Saturday, August 29, 2020

August in the Garden

 Hi folks, here I am again! It's the end of August, and it's time to catch up on Robin's Nest. Now I can't say that much is new in the garden, but I still like to record what's happening at month's end. There aren't many new blooms happening, so things might look familiar. I'd say the most exciting part of my August garden is just how many butterflies I'm seeing, especially monarchs. 

As I scrolled through my monthly photos to share with you, I had to chuckle at just how many of them were monarchs. Hubby and I always call out when we spot one from inside, "Monarch!". Generally that means I head out with my camera. But do you know that it has become so commonplace that sometimes I don't? Gasp! 

Yes, I still raise them indoors. As a matter of fact, it's looking to be my biggest monarch year yet. I've already released 29, and have about 40 inside still growing. As my milkweed patch has expanded, so have the monarchs visiting it. They were so slow to start this year, but once they found me, it's been crazy. One day I watched a mama monarch laying eggs for hours, and later gathered nearly 50 of them. Not all turned out to be viable, but that batch is why I have so many. My largest release so far has been 9, but I predict that I'll eventually have a day where I'll release 20 or more. How fun is that? 

Since seeing monarchs here has become more common, I find myself getting more excited to see the other types of butterflies that don't visit here as often. In particular, I enjoyed this red spotted purple who stayed to visit for several days, posing cooperatively all the while. I generally only see one each year, and it always makes me snicker. You see, my butterfly book says they don't nectar on flowers, preferring rotting fruit, sap, and even dung. Yet every time they stop by here, they feast on my butterfly bush! 

August is also a good month to feast on garden produce, and that we have. Cucumbers are the main attraction here every summer, and when they arrive in bulk, we often eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cucumbers are harder to preserve, but I do have an old family recipe that we call Vinegar Cukes, which allows them to keep about a month. I'll type it out for you here, since it's my own version. 

Vinegar Cukes
3 cups water
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
Small onion, cut into wedges
4-5 cucumbers, peeled and cut into thick slices 

Mix water, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar in a half gallon glass jar with lid. Add onions and cucumbers, let sit in the fridge for a few days before eating. Will keep about a month. You might try adding a few hot peppers to the mix. 

Various other birds and creatures do show up around here, and for the most part, we find them fascinating and photo worthy. See this purple ant nest? This is what happens when they build a nest under my verbena bonariensis, which drops hundreds of tiny petals below. Obviously they find the petals sweet enough to gather them in. The other night we saw a yellow jacket take down a hummingbird moth, and while it wasn't pleasant, it was interesting, although I don't think I'll show the video here. 

Well, I suppose I could post some flowers, even if they aren't really new this month. You know I have to show them off. 

I'll spare you any pandemic whining this month, and instead I'll end as usual with some summer porch sunsets. It's been a very muggy, stormy summer, and the sunsets are often vibrant. I wish I could say that the storms have brought us plenty of rain, but that's never true here in the summer. Thanks for stopping by, we'll talk again in September.