As I had hoped, the garden has attracted a plethora of insect life. Good, bad and ugly have all made their appearance, and while a balance is not yet established, I hope to see it forming next year.
My focus has been on reproduction and on beneficial plants. Beneficial used in dual form, both as companion plantings and as beneficial insect drawing plants.
What I’ve discovered by observation is that the pesky over population of flea beetles are ever so happily munching my assertively wild scattered false nettle weeds.
To my delight, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Black Swallowtail have taken up residence here and I’ve watched four separate batches of caterpillars munch their way through my dill, parsley and carrots – only to morph into their beautiful adult form and stock nectar from the Mexican Torch Sunflowers and Giant Zinnias before they take flight.
The caterpillars are zealous in their feeding habits, but leave enough of the plant for a full and speedy regrowth – a self-generating cycle of plant and food.
New insects have shown in force: grasshoppers, followed by soldier beetles (whose larvae feeds on caterpillar larvae); squash bugs, followed by the feather footed fly, which lays parasitic eggs on squash bugs. Lace wings, lady bugs, katydids, parasitic wasps, syrphid flies, blue winged wasps, robber flies, damsel flies, dragon flies, spiders, beetles of all sorts and bees of all sorts all visit regularly. It’s a happily buzzing space when the sun is shining!
The health of the garden was evidenced by the sad but stalwart four corn stalks that survived germination. Three of the four stalks cross pollinated, to produce five ears of corn. Our pollinators are rock stars, and they are abundant!
My next observation will be next spring – to see what grows of itself. I am allowing ( and helping) seed for every herb and vegetable to scatter in the garden. I’ll lightly mulch for the winter, then do a one inch deep raking of the soil in early spring. I’m interested to see how many items survive the cold, to grow hardy starts next year.