Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Flora and Fauna

Before the frost last week I spent some time harvesting herbs for drying. I especially like to dry thyme, dill, parsley, and oregano. I use sage during the holidays, but my plants stay green enough to harvest fresh. And my bay and rosemary plants comes inside, so I always have leaves for soups and roasts. 

I hang bundles of a single herb to dry. This usually takes about 2 weeks. Sometimes I use the food dehydrator, but this time I didn't. Then I cut off all the stems, and pack the leaves into our cute little Krupp electric mill.

A few seconds of processing and I have nice fine, dried herbs for use this winter. Just like so many things, herbs are better fresh or fresh-dried from the garden.

This is really parsley, I swear!
 And now for the fauna portion of my post. Every day we walk through the herb garden, enjoying the scents and flowers, and always on the lookout for the caterpillars that appear this time of year.
Swallowtails lay their eggs on parsley, dill and fennel, which the larvae feed on. Since we enjoy these critters, we plant enough for everyone. But this year I have only seen one or two very tiny caterpillar.  It might be because of the very dry summer.

But we have seen an abundance of these guys:

In the last week we have seen so many praying mantises in our backyard. They are everywhere! And it's weird, because we haven't seen any for many years. But after living in the country for so many years, I've learned that there is a cycle to these things. Next year, it will be something else that is abundant. I just hope it isn't earwig beetles!

I know they're "good bugs", but they are kind of creepy:)


Nellie said...

Our winters are rather mild, so our rosemary is fine to leave outside. Our annoyance this year has been stink bugs! Be thankful you don't have them!:) They are trying to get into the house now that cooler weather is on the way.

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

My rosemary has always made it through winter except for last year. It was a really cold one and since climatologists say this winter is supposed to be even colder, I think I'll bring it inside!

They are kind of creepy looking! I've only seen one this year.

Shannon@A Cozy Place Called Home said...

I agree that fresh herbs make such a difference in cooking. One of my favorite herbs is dill. I often reach for it when cooking a variety of foods. As Nellie above said the stink bugs are terrible this year. One was flying around in my kitchen the other day. I didn't know they made a buzzing sound but that one did.---------- Shannon