I’ve combined these two herbs in this post because one of them I can’t seem to grow. Because dill doesn’t like my yard, I’ve grown fennel in it’s place.
The two herbs are not interchangeable for cooking and seasoning, as they are both different, but as far as gardening goes, they are similar. They are both airy and lacy and have big yellow, open flowers that attract beneficials.
I first grew dill in my New Hampshire yard. I absolutely loved the flowers that came at the end of the season, which attracted good bugs. Here in Florida I have tried numerous times to grow it without success. This potted dill you see here was grown from seeds.
Aside from the fact that the raccoons dug around in the pot one night, it looks pretty good.
Fennel on the other hand grows all on it’s own. It is considered a perennial. It has successfully re-seeded itself in my front yard and I’ve seen caterpillars on it in past years. And often the stalks will last into the following year. Here in Florida that happens with many vegetables.
Unfortunately the brown lizards ate all the worms, so I didn’t see any turn into Swallowtail butterflies.
Both dill and fennel have seeds that form on the flowers and are very easy to save. Because I don’t have luck with dill, I have photos of fennel seeds only.
Fennel easily grows from seeds. I have some plants that have sprung up along the front of the house. This year I saw no caterpillars on them, but I like to have them just in case a butterfly comes by to lay her eggs.
Here in Florida it does not feel like the end of summer transitioning into Fall. The September garden is overgrown and producing little. My garden looks like a mess. Temperatures are still in the 90’s and it’s too hot to stay outdoors for any length of time. I water the garden at least once a day, and usually twice, and it still wilts in the heat.
I now have two new bell pepper plants growing from seeds. One is tall and has given me a few green peppers. The other is still tiny. You can see the big (old) pepper plant in the raised bed, front left area. The peppers are small and thin walled, but I use them in cooking.
I’ve cut back the eggplant once more and haven’t had an edible eggplant from it in a long time.
The tomatoes are long and gangly and will probably just die before they produce edible tomatoes. I may try to grow them again in early spring.
And I have a couple of squash plants – one has a tiny squash growing. I honestly can’t remember what type of squash it is. Either a winter / butternut or spaghetti squash. I threw seeds in the dirt to see what would happen. I can’t grow summer squash or zucchini for some reason. (This little squash rotted and fell off the vine.)
The most beautiful plant in my vegetable garden right now is the fennel. I had two plants and one died, but the other has grown tall stalks of pretty yellow flowers which bring bees every day. This is why I let my plants continue to grow even if they don’t produce. Their flowers bring bugs searching for nectar and birds hop through the garden in search of bugs for dinner. Eventually seeds will form.
I was inspired to draw the fennel with flowers and turn it into a custom card at my Zazzle store.
I’m not sure what will become of my vegetable garden. I’m considering giving up on growing my favorite vegetables. I seem to have more luck with herbs, so maybe I need a big herb garden. I love to pick fresh herbs from the yard.
The parsley that has been growing for over 2 years is finally dying. I let it go to seed and maybe it will produce new plants. I haven’t seen any parsley worms for a while.
My neighbors across the street told me they turned their vegetable garden into a citrus garden. They said that bugs ruined everything they tried to grow so they gave up. It seems that the smart thing to do is grow what works in this tropical climate.
My Little Citrus Trees
I am happy to see that my lemon tree is making a come back. Once it gave up trying to produce lemons, it could concentrate on new growth, and the greenery is beautiful. I have it planted in a fabric pot and it seems very happy.
The new orange tree still has one orange growing. The tree is small, and I did have 2 oranges, but one fell off and was no good.
The Persian lime tree is full of limes, which I will be able to start using soon, but the tree and fruit don’t look as good as last year. I think it needs a bigger pot. With all the spikes on the stems, that will be a chore!
Finding the Swallowtail butterfly in it’s life stages in my garden
I’ve been watching as the Black Swallowtail butterfly flits around my vegetable garden laying eggs on the parsley and fennel. I took the camera out and got these photos. Everything looked good until the bees showed up!
In the first photo here you can see two eggs and one tiny black caterpillar. In the second photo see a more mature caterpillar. All these are currently found in my garden – all the stages. Right now I don’t think there is a pupa or chrysalis. Earlier this year a green one formed on the lower stalk of the fennel. They seem to prefer fennel over the parsley, although they are also known as parsley worms.
Grow some fennel if you want to encourage the Swallowtail to visit your garden. The worms will eat down the vegetables, so plant extra to allow them to feed. Check for eggs and worms before picking herbs!
The “parsley worm” is so pretty, and fun to watch. They will twist and reach for those strands of fennel. In fact I was watching one the other day, and decided to go inside and get my iPhone. By the time I got back out to the fennel, a wasp was eating the caterpillar! I took the video below as one wasp, or hornet or whatever it was, got kicked off the meal and another took over.
I was tempted to pull off my shoe and kill those bees, but it’s nature, so I controlled myself.
Between the hornets and the birds, it is quite amazing that any caterpillars get the chance to turn into a butterfly.
And here she is, back at the garden laying eggs on the fennel and parsley. There you have it, the full cycle of the life of the Swallowtail, found in my backyard.
For more great photos with life stages of the Swallowtail check out the post on Our Habitat Garden.