Tag Archives: spiders

Caterpillar update

I’ve been hoping to follow my caterpillars through more life stages this year but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I’ve only managed to catch them at egg and first instar stages.

Last month after I saw my caterpillars in first instar and then disappear altogether, I wondered if predators got them. And then I regretted planting so much dill. I thought it would go to waste, but instead it bolted in the heat. I was surprised to see that it still attracts swallowtails to lay their eggs. My small plot that once had 4 caterpillars now has at least 8, and my large plot has a few as well.

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Two caterpillars (and shed skin?) among dill flowers in my large plot

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Another caterpillar. Flowers will form into seeds soon.

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I lover the contrast between the tiny yellow flowers, green stems and black caterpilar (and my fingers and calendula in the background)

After planting all that butterfly weed, I still haven’t seen any butterflies on it. I check under leaves and along stems for evidence of caterpillars, no luck. I have seen a few bees on it so I guess it’s a good thing I planted it.

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I think this butterfly weed is a stunning. Look at those flowers!

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At least the spiders like them

I did manage to spot a swallowtail butterfly in the garden last week, hovering over red clover running rampant in the grass. I guess my milkweed can’t compete with it’s simple beauty. I suppose the important thing is that they have lots of food sources.

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You can spot the butterfly right in the centre of the photo. He wouldn’t let me get closer for a more flattering picture

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The rain, the soil, and other things

The weather has been all over the place this season. We had a really long winter in Toronto and not much of a spring. Summer weather in May with frost on the May long weekend. Drought conditions in early June and more recently several days of storms with torrential downpours.

I planted my first set of seeds at the community garden the first of May. I checked back frequently at first, then low and behold three weeks past without a visit. My brother had been watering religiously so I wasnt too worried. Then he came home one day and told me that our friendly neighbour to the right told him, “man, you guys need to weed!” I went to visit the next day and was shocked by what I found.

At least the onions are OK

At least the onions are OK

View from above. I recognize lambs quartre, but the rest are a mystery!

View from above. I recognize lambs quarter, but the rest are a mystery!

I rightfully felt shame for the neglect. As I weeded for the next two hours I thought about the signs these weeds were showing me:


  • lots of weeds means the soil is fertile (I read this online somewhere)


  • nothing I planted is growing (except the onions)
  • these weeds are harbouring a ton of lema beetles! (and if you look closely at the weeds above, leafminers are just as active)
Lema beetles making babies

Lema beetles doing what they do best — making more lema beetles!


Lema beetle eggs

More eggs!

More eggs!


  • lots of white spiders with large white sacks. I think these are good guys but they took off once the weeds were gone.
White spider with giant egg sack. Spiders are good right?

White spider with giant egg sack. Spiders are good right?

OK, so some things managed to survive: a sunflower, some beets, a few marigold and cornflower, a nasturtium…

First radish of the season!

First radish of the season!

And one lone radish which I promptly harvested along with some onion tops and enjoyed that night as a reward for all my hard work :).

First radish of the season

First radish of the season





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July 5th visit

I swung by the garden on Thursday after work. It was still early enough in the evening to be able to see what was happening, unlike Tuesday night.

I pulled up some carrots, which turned out to be mostly greens. I don’t particularly like the taste of the green tops so I just took home the roots. They tasted OK. I think my carrots did better in the fall last year.

Carrots, sadly more greens that roots

One of the carrots bolted and sent up this weird-looking flower. When I pulled it up there was no root. I suppose I could have taken the flower head and tried to dry it for the seeds, but carrot seeds are really tiny and I didn’t feel like dealing with it. Plus I still had tons to plant for fall harvest.

Carrot’s gone to seed or bolted

Discovered another garden critter as I was closely inspecting one of several sunflowers I have in the plot (that’s another story, why I have so many sunflowers). Daddy long legs are one breed of spider that I don’t find scary. In fact, they’re pretty cool.

Looks like a daddy long legs!

The cucumber is getting bigger and using the nearby sunflower as a trellis. I got the idea of planting the two together from the March 29th post of  Oakvale Green Community Garden‘s Facebook page entitled Spring Gardening: *8 Unusual Planting Tips You Can’t Miss. Apparently sunflowers improve the taste of cucumbers. Who knew!

Cucumber using a sunflower to stabilize itself

I think I saw a cucumber beetle on the zucchini: a bright yellow, black stripped little guy. I remembered seeing a picture of it somewhere but couldn’t remember if it was a good guy or bad guy in the garden. Turns out it’s a bad guy that will attack my cucumbers and zucchinis so I’ll have to keep an eye out for it.

A neighbouring gardener (who’s name I can’t recall)  pointed out that I had 3 zucchini plants in my garden, two large ones (that are bearing fruit!) and a small one. I’ll have to remove the small one as there won’t be room for it. It seems to be doing pretty good. I wonder who I can give it to…

I see fruit! Yes!

Of the many sunflowers I have in the plot, only one of them has fully opened.

Sunflower finally opens

From what I remember of Square Foot Gardening technique, beets should be pulled when they are about 2 1/2 to 3 ” in diameter. When they get too big, they aren’t as tasty. I plan to pull some this weekend and plant some more in the fall. I think they did better in the fall last year, just like the carrots.

Beets, so colourful!

My garden neighbour asked what type of tomatoes I had and tried to arrange a swap for later in the season. I have red and yellow pear tomatoes and he has brandywine and some other type of hierloom. Such community.

Yellow or red pear tomato

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