Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.
Friday, June 22, 2012
I didn't used to think that way. Parsley was represented in my thinking only as that annoying garnish found on every plate in every sit down restaurant. If I bothered touching it at all, it was only to find some unobtrusive placement of the parsley away from my food, so I could concentrate on what I was eating. And, whatever I was eating that day, parsley sure wasn't it.
Then I planted some in the garden to share with our son (he's a chef). He doesn't have access to outdoor planting spaces, so it was easy enough to offer to grow it here. He can drop by and pick however much he wants for his own use at home. We were already co-hosting basil, thyme and jalapeño plants for our mutual use, so what was a little parsley between family?
It turns out parsley, once a good sized crown is established, is a really attractive plant. It is as green as they get, barely wilts in the heat, tolerates most of what any Austin winter dishes out, and is never a water hog. Even in August.
As I began to use fresh-from-the-garden parsley in various recipes (rather than ignoring it as an ingredient altogether), I began to discover parsley does indeed have something to offer as part of the flavor profile of various dishes. Fresh parsley is an addition I have come to appreciate, especially in home preparation of ranch dressing and chicken stock.
And, as is typically the case, I am not alone in my admiration. Yesterday as I was trimming out the yellowed leaves from underneath the crown, I ran across three fellow parsley fans.
Papilio polyxenes, also known as black swallowtail caterpillars, were busily eating, bulking up for their pupation.
In years past I'd admired these stylish guys feasting on well established fennel plants. It turns out these caterpillars are particular fans of the carrot family, laying eggs on dill, fennel, and.....yup, parsley.
As gentle as I tried to be, I did not get away with my transfer efforts without alarming the caterpillars enough to provoke the evertion of a forked gland called an osmeterium, which supposedly emits a foul smell to put off predators.
Even though I may be periodically deluded into thinking I am out working in our beds alone? The garden is always an occupied space. What is food for us is always also food for others. Sharing the bounty is simply par for the course.