Observations from Judea Garden

Did you realize that Milkweed has a fragrance? Though we allow Milkweed to grow wherever possible in Judea Garden (it is the single most important source of food for the monarch butterfly), we had never noticed its beautiful fragrance until recently weeding right beside a beautiful clump. Take a second and take a whiff; it’s what summer smells like.

Speaking of weeds, we like to keep a few of them around in Judea Garden (much to the chagrin of some volunteers) such as dandelions, nettle and purslane. We harvest and distribute the dandelions and purslane providing folks with low calorie, nutrient rich food and use the dandelions and nettle to provide minerals for our soil by composting and making tea.

Birdsong is the soundtrack to our work in the Garden. Picking peas becomes an easier chore when accompanied by song sparrow, head thrown back and singing its heart out. Bluebirds flash their colors as they answer a call from a cell phone app while goldfinches sparkle in the sun. And, of course, our day is not complete without the car grinding crow of the local pheasant.

Milestones are celebrated every day in Judea Garden. Watching seeds emerge from the ground never ceases to amaze me. Potatoes push their way up as little red jewels appear on the tomato plants. What will we celebrate next?

After a dry June, we loved not having to water due to rain, but…all this rain and humidity has us carefully watching for signs of mildew and fungal diseases. Prevention works best (did you know you can use a milk spray to prevent powdery mildew?) but constant rain means constant reapplication.

But, there is beauty in most everything and there is nothing quite as spectacular as watching a weather front approach from over the hills. The clouds are dramatic and sometimes we can see a wall of rain work its way from one side of the garden to the other.

And while we’re inspecting our plants, we constantly check for signs of insects : cucumber beetles, squash bugs, Colorado potato beetle and cabbage moth caterpillars are currently in our cross hairs. If numbers are low, hand picking works best for us.

Happy gardening and observing!

Denise Arturi

Judea Garden Manager and Head Gardener and Volunteer Coordinator

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