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From Your Garden

Fennel provides plenty for butterflies and me

Observe and serve. That could be my motto with our fennel plants.
    The larvae of swallowtail butterflies feed on umbelly plants: fennel, cutting celery and parsley going to seed. I appreciate the mature butterfly, but in the summer of 2011 I removed a number of the larvae to save my plants. I deposited them in the woods across the way. Late last year, the woods were sprayed to stop the poison ivy. The spraying meant moving caterpillars from my plants would no longer be an option.
    I’ve left the brilliant caterpillars alone this year and have been amazed at what I’ve witnessed. At least four waves of swallowtail larvae have come through. They eat their fill, then stop.
    They left plenty of umbels for me. So I harvest seed, which I use not only to grind for seasoning winter soups but also just to eat now and then and to steep in brandy to include in a warming bitters blend to improve digestion.

–Leigh Glenn, Cape St. Claire

What’s growing in your garden? Send a photo and description of your latest harvest to ­editor@bayweekly.com