Gardening… My therapy

As we approach that time of year, I’d like to share with you my love of gardening and a bit of the “not such love” of it too…

I grew up in an Italian family in Jersey with a long history of gardeners. I loved gardening with my mom. I was always ready to get my hands dirty and start planting. Living in a wooded area, it can be challenging to keep the garden animal free. We would grow mostly in raised beds or containers.

Well drained containers that I usually use for tomatoes and peppers
I ravel a roll of plastic green fencing around all of my containers because one day, a ground hog came up onto my deck and tried to get himself a few nibbles. This stuff helps!!

My mom mostly stuck with tomatoes, cucumbers and squash. I was always so fascinated by watching plants turn into veggies! By how those little yellow flowers could turn themselves into these big juicy tomatoes.

My Jersey grown tomatoes!
The deeper the color, the better!
It’s a must in my eyes to slice up a sun warmed tomato and put it on white bread with mayo, salt, pepper and oregano. I live on these all summer long!

It amazes me how climbing veggies can wrap their “arms” around poles and just start climbing, always when you’re not looking.

Cucumbers, reaching out to climb
Climbers in the back are squash. They even try to climb into the house! This garden bed of mine I over crowded one year, I suggest not over crowding for sure. Still got good size veggies though!
Me with an Italian squash called tromboncino. It’s almost the same as a cucuzza. I would say more tender. (I know, I know… I’m a Mets fan, what can I say)
Tromboncino is absolutely delicious sliced thin and sautéed with oil and garlic.
These are cucuzza (tromboncino’s cousin) simmered in homemade sauce with string beans and chopped meat. A dish my mom always made from her family.
Then take that simmered sauce, pour it over macaroni and serve with a nice slice of Italian bread for dunking. You’ll enjoy this dish, I promise! Yummy!

One day, I walked past one of my zucchini plants that had no flowers on it. About an hour later, I walked by again and this gigantic flower had opened up! How come this doesn’t happen when I’m looking at them! It’s like they know you’re watching, but they don’t want you to see them move! Fascinating little suckers…

Zucchini flower, opens up when your head is turned.
Zucchini flowers are considered a delicacy and are delicious when stuffed with a ricotta/parm combo, breaded and pan fried (or baked)
Let’s not forget zoodles! Plenty of tools out there now to turn those zucchini’s into noodles.

Sometimes when picking my veggies, I like to have a little fun with garden art

Tropical squash
An angry veggie man

Ok, so now that I’ve shared my love of gardening, I’m going to share my “not such love” of it. Of course there are lots of bugs, as we all know, lurking around in our gardens. Some harmless, and some destructive.

Totally harmless dragon fly, this guy greeted me almost daily that year!

One day, I saw a praying mantis in my garden. I was so excited! I never see them! Not only did I see one, I saw three!! I was like “wow! This is unbelievable! This must mean I’ve got some luck heading my way!”

Looks cute, harmless

Reading up on praying mantis, I learned that they actually camouflage themselves. The green ones, hide against the green

The brown, hide against the brown

I was fascinated by everything going on in my garden until one day, I came out to find one of the praying mantis, hanging upside down, eating a bumble bee! The biggest contributor to our gardens! The pollinator!!

Eating a bee 🙁 staring right at me, which kinda creeped me out even more!

I was so sad for the bee. They are totally harmless in the garden. I’d run away from one hanging around my car, but in the garden, they are at their happiest. They don’t want anything to do with you, all they want to do is pollinate! It was at that point that I realized that my garden wasn’t doing as well as it usually does, and now I knew why!! Praying mantis were killing my garden!! Apparently, they are carnivores and love to eat bees! I would try to pick them up with a stick and move them far away, only to find them back the next day. They are beautiful insects but…. I’d prefer them to stay far, far away!

I haven’t started my garden this year just yet, but, I’m hoping I do not see these guys in there again. If anyone has advice on keeping praying mantis away from a vegetable garden (without harming them of course) please share! I’m hoping that was a one time thing… Otherwise, happy gardening!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    They will eat up every thing trust me you don’t want to see any more notice something missing they ate it

    1. tmartino says:

      Omg it’s crazy how destructive they are!!! Any advice on keeping them away?!

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