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.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

All's well that ends well

One of the most consistent pleasures I get from gardening is growing my own herbs.  It makes me deeply happy to go out into the garden, snip off something fresh, and then bring it back into the kitchen to use in preparing a meal.

I started out growing a handful of well adapted herbs for our area: oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil. I soon discovered how tough parsley is, overwintering even through our coldest spells and surviving our hottest summer temperatures.  Better yet, parsley, along with fennel, is a magnet host plant for butterflies.

I ought not to have been surprised when I stumbled into my kitchen the morning after harvesting parsley to use on a lamb roast last Sunday, and saw this scattered across the tiles:
No, that's not an unfortunate poppy seed spill.  That's frass, ladies and gents, or to put it in less gentile terms, caterpillar poop.
I'd had everything but the parsley sitting in the windowsill for days so knew my freshly harvested herbs were the most likely hiding spot for the frassinator. I took a closer look, and sure enough, blending in perfectly with the green stalks of parsley was this guy.
It is too early for me to tell exactly what sort of butterfly or moth this caterpillar will become.  Perhaps a swallowtail butterfly, they do love parsley.
I took the caterpillar back out into the garden beds, where the parsley stalks are all still attached at the roots.  I didn't try to detach it but snugged it up against the base of the main plant, where it will certainly find its way back up into the produce section.

Phew! That was a bit of a close call.  I'm reminded to be more cautious when bringing garden greens indoors.  They often carry visitors hiding in plain sight. I'm relieved I didn't "find" this guy with my knife on the chopping board.  Happy trails, little butterfly-to-be!


Tina said...

"Frassinator"--that's great! So glad Mr./Ms. Caterpillar didn't end up in your salad/soup/whatever. Though, I suppose there would be more protein. Let us know what he becomes, if you find out.

Debra said...

Too funny. If only he knew how close he came to disaster. I share that joy of herbs. I use them in cooking all the time and few things bring me more joy than using herbs fresh from the garden.
But, I only discovered the joy of growing parsley here last year. I was astonished that it was so easy: not needing water ... growing in the shade ...
And then this year (oh my goodness) it went nuts. It is now as tall as my shoulder and about to flower. A biennial! How cool is that? I decided that I am going to put it in all those tough spots in the garden (meaning practically everywhere). And oregano! Even I can't kill it. happy sigh

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Yeah - I try not to think about that extra protein possibility too much. Uuugh. I'm declaring the caterpillar to be a member of the Harvestus Near Missus type. (subcategory: Close callus).

TexasDeb said...

Debra: My only difficulty with parsley is remembering when to plant more. I only have a couple of spots where it does well and I often (read: always) wait too long to replace mine. I hear you about the oregano. I have enough planted a small town could cook with it and never use it all. Great stuff!

Steph@RamblingWren said...

The Frassinator....Bah, Ha , Ha! I did bring a dish to a dinner party that had parsley from my garden, worm included.

TexasDeb said...

Steph: Ha indeed! A dish featuring home grown parsley a la Vermes, eh? So very organic, tres tres terreux. I assume everybody was properly appreciative?