September 8, 2011

Praying Mantis Nest
Photo by Jessica Walliser
I have found praying-mantis nests in my backyard evergreen trees.

Well, with my son now in school, I’m back to the garden. It’s so hard to believe Labor Day is behind us. Late last week, I harvested the last of the cucumbers—enough to make one more batch of pickles that I haven’t actually made yet—and pulled up the vines. Zucchini plants bit the dust two weeks ago, so they got yanked, as well. I managed to elude the vine borers this season with a collar of aluminum foil around their base—can’t believe how well it worked! We had more zucchini this summer than we’ve had in years. I made enough zucchini bread to safely see us through the winter. That chest freezer was one heck of an investment!
 
I also pulled up the stink-bug-ridden corn stalks. I considered leaving them in the garden to brown so that I could use them for Halloween décor, but with all the rain we’ve been having, they toppled over into the dirt and that was the end of that idea.

Plans for the rest of this week include harvesting the first batch of butternut squash and finishing up the basil. I didn’t get around to making pesto this summer, but that’s alright. I seem to get enough basil in the summer that by winter’s arrival, I’m OK to see it off the plate for a few months.

And I made one final trip to a favorite local nursery this morning. One of our newly planted trees died. I picked up a replacement along with a 5-foot-tall Leyland Cypress to join the row of three we already have to block the neighbor’s view of our back patio. What great evergreens they are! Fast-growing and very soft looking. Last winter, we found two praying mantis egg cases in one of the trees, an exciting find for sure. We never saw any of the hatchlings, but you can bet I’ll be out there later this fall looking for more egg cases and crossing my fingers they’ll make it safely to spring.  

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