Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kale Spiders

The garden is filled with good insects this time of year, none so much as in my kale bush, where a nest of hunting spiders have taken residence.
They are of a docile variety, who apparently also are camera shy, but every time I harvest the kale, I have to shake them, gently so as not to rip the tips of the leaves, to force off any spiders hiding along the curly edges. I once had three quite frazzled spiders fall haphazard from one large leaf. Uncertain of where they were and what had happened, they ventured for cover, one toward the zucchini, one toward my pant-leg, and one lucky critter headed back to the kale.
The next kale harvest, soon approaching, I will take the camera back to the garden in hopes of capturing a kale spider or two. And though I know that the spiders are keeping my greens safe from vegetarian insects, I can't help it; my skin crawls for an hour after shaking them off, mere inches from where my fingers grasp the stem.

Another carnivorous insect find: a praying mantis in the purple cherokee tomatoes.
Art spotted her while watering. I had missed her, despite the fact that I had plucked a tomato not centimeters from where she was stationed on the plant. She stood nice and still and allowed us to photograph her, begrudgingly putting up with the bright flash, but it wasn't long after that the shrieks and touchy mitts of the six-year-old boy scared her off.

Outside of our little plot, there is is flurry of activity at the sunflower garden:

While honeybees have been dying off at an alarming rate all over the country, there are plenty right by our tomato patch. Bees sometimes dangle from a sunflower, five or six at a time, hording that much-loved nectar on their tiny knees. No fear of stings here. You can walk right by them on the way to get water from the spigot (or stand directly in front of them to take upteen pictures) and they don't so much as flinch.

Insects aside, the plants themselves are really starting to produce. The cucumbers, long-dead, have been torn up in favor of a fall crop of red-leaf lettuce. But the soybeans are coming in.

There are copious amounts of eggplant.

The peppers are finally putting out.

And the Mr. Stripey tomato plant is actually developing good-sized green tomatoes, hopefully soon to turn pink-and-yellow-striped. This particular bush has been a wild one, flopping its many tentacles all over regardless of where it belongs. There was no reigning it in, but through all of June, July,and early August, not so much as a single tiny bud-like tomato. Suddenly, Mr. Stripey is beginning to show his feminine side with large and abundant offspring. 

All I can say is: it's about time.

Now don't think that just because I've spent a blog on nothing but gardening that I have gotten behind on the recipe testing. On the contrary, I have about five recipe cards sitting next to me with pictures already loaded of various attempts, usually involving one of more of the vegetables obtained from my garden. The problem is I've been working so hard making sure I have all my lesson planning ready for the start of classes at CSU in the morning that I haven't had time to post my blogs. Consider this a promise for many, many tasty dishes to come.
That, and I am so excited by my first garden and the many new insights it provides, the many ways it helps me see this city and its nonhuman occupants in a clearer light.


  1. I loved this post because I can totally relate. Usually, though, my kale spiders are not as lucky as yours--most of the time they drown in the kitchen sink when I'm washing the kale.

    We also have praying mantis in our garden. In fact, every year it seems like we spot more of them! I love watching the strange things.

  2. I have never not been fond of the praying mantis. If only I had the ability to say the same about hunting spiders. That, though, is a newfound affection.