Learn a new fruit. Pawpaws are coming right now in Pennsylvania, and they are an acquired taste. But for those of us who have acquired it, OMG! What a treat! They’re green and shaped like a papaya, ripe when the skin goes yellow with brown around the edge, and they have a soft texture. The flesh has a texture like pudding, and the seeds — so many in each fruit — are jewelry-worthy. Harvesting is not a difficult process: Just pick them up off the ground when they fall, or shake the trees a little to encourage the falling, and hold them until they soften up. Bite a hole and suck out the pulp from around the seeds. They should be showing up in farmers’ markets any minute.
Stop panicking about the butterflies. Judging from my dad’s backyard, the monarchs are doing fine and are about to head off on their journey to Mexico, having gorged themselves on nectar from the fall blooming flowers. On the other hand, swallowtail caterpillars — growing right now on fennel, dill, and parsley plants — are not in any hurry to grow up, because they will spend the winter here in chrysalis form, emerging to feed on spring flowers. The little white butterflies can fend for themselves, as they’ve gorged themselves on all our cabbage.
Plant another batch of greens. Seeds of lettuce, spinach, and greens planted two weeks ago are doing nicely under their covers in the garden. Do it again, and cover those, too. Check them all periodically to make sure no white butterflies have sneaked in around the edges and made green worms happen.
Sally McCabe is associate director of community education at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (phsonline.org) and a co-owner of Cobblestone Krautery (www.cobblestonekrautery.com).