Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Honey Bees and My Hummingbird Feeders

I don't know what is going on with the bees this year, but they are taking over the hummingbird feeders.  AND they are all honey bees.  They swarm over the feeders every day covering the outside and climbing into the interior, where they cannot escape. When I cleaned out the feeder, I found over a hundred dead honey bees.  Now that is something I do not want to see happen!  Where  all the bees coming from?  Aren't they supposed to be pollinating and making honey for their queen? I've seen Bee Movie, I have a good idea of what they should be doing. Maybe they are escapees from someone's hive nearby.

The other big problem is that they are so thick that my hummingbird friends cannot force their way in.  There have been a lot of bee/bird wars at my feeders. Does anyone know what I can do about this problem?  Help! I need suggestions now!

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow. http://anherbalbedfellow.com

Monday, July 9, 2012

Herbs, Your Garden Sentry

Did you ever think of your herbs as being garden sentries?  Well, they can be.
What exactly is the definition of sentry? The dictionary says it's this: A guard, especially a soldier, posted at a given spot to prevent the passage of unauthorized persons.
Even though my herbs are not soldiers, I have been using them as guards and sentries, and the "person" they are guarding against are deer!  When I created my Square Foot Garden, I planned my herb 4x4 square so that it would be on the side of my yard that the deer were most likely to pass by. My herb square contains rosemary, oregano, thyme, along with others, but these three are good deer deterrents.  Deer have very sensitive noses, and they don't like to be near anything with a powerful scent. 
At the entrance to my garden area, I placed a pot of herbs at each end.  One contains lemon balm, because I like it, and the other container is mint.  Deer hate mint.
I  planted two marigold plants in others squares with the vegetables. (Marigolds are not herbs, but I thought you might like to know, if you didn't already, that deer and rabbits do not like marigolds-- well, the rabbits will nibble the young early buds at the beginning of the season, but after that, they will not touch them.) Each marigold takes up a 12-inch square and it was hard to give up the space to a flower, but it has proven to be a big help. The scent of each marigold will penetrate 10 feet, so you really don't need many. If you like to make it pretty, plant a row of marigolds around your garden, or even make a border of lavender, one of my favorite "sentries." I plan on edging my daylilies with herb sentries next year, just for extra protection.
The season is far from over, but so far I have not seen a deer print anywhere near my garden, and no rabbits have stopped by for a nibble The raccoons are not digging into my root vegetables, either!  I have begun to harvest a few things, and, so far, have not had to sacrifice anything to my hungry woodland friends, thanks to my herbs, my  garden sentry!

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow. http://anherbalbedfellow.com

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gentle Greetings Daylily

Gentle Greetings was a bonus plant that came along with a new purchase last fall from New Every Morning Daylily Gardens. It "greeted me gently" with its first bloom yesterday. Click on the picture to see it close up and experience its quiet beauty.
I had looked this one up on the Internet to see what I might expect from it last September.  I was not familiar with this one at all.   I found several Internet pictures and they were all quite different, as oftentimes is the case.
This is what I was expecting.:
 I prefer the softer colors of my bloom, but who knows, next year mine may look just like this. Daylilies like to spring something new on you each year -- a lot depends on the amount of rain and sun they are exposed to.  Soil is also a factor.  I have found that if I were to give a friend a division of one of my favorites, hers would quite often look totally different than mine, even though she lived in the same area., and her daylilies received the same amount of sun and rain as mine had.

  Each time I buy a new daylily I am always surprised with a "free" plant in my delivery.  It seems to be a common practice among growers. It also seems as though they are not just throwing their discards at you, but helping you to improve your garden with wonderful cultivars. Some growers keep lists of what they sell you and give you so there are never any repeats. Some of my favorite daylilies have been the bonus plants. And only one time in my years of collecting did I receive a bonus plant that was a duplicate of one I already had in my garden.  How were they to know it was a gift from a friend?
I love this time of year, even though it is so hot this week I have not spent much time outside.  But because of my daylilies, I can't wait to go in my garden each morning to see what plant has its "Gentle Greetings"  for me.

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow. http://anherbalbedfellow.com

Friday, July 6, 2012

Square Foot Gardening Update - July

The vegetables are growing daily and some are looking fabulous, even with our drought, as you can tell by the pictures. I thought it was a good time to do a square foot gardening update.
So far I am happy with the plan but there are a few changes to make next year. For one, I don't think I will try to do all of it from seed.  I think our Michigan weather is too unpredictable early in the year; maybe putting out starts a little later in the season is a better idea.

Also I plan on making careful notes on our needs and how much we produce.  I really don't plan on feeding the neighbors; I'd just like to have fresh vegetables throughout the growing season.  Maybe next year I will grow more tomatoes so I can can or freeze salsa or spaghetti sauce.  I think we need more radishes, and I need to be consistent in planting them at two-week intervals.  They produced their crop very quickly, and we love them so much we ate them all in a few days.

This fall we are already making plans to build more raised beds.  The 4x4 beds are perfect for weeding and just as the book explained, it is not so overwhelming to weed.  I like neat and tidy and this is exactly what square foot gardening is all about. If I don't have much time, I will just weed one or two squares one morning and then the next morning do a few more.
I am also keeping records as to the variety of each vegetable I planted in case one doesn't do as well as I hoped. So as of today, I am a happy veggie gardener, as well as a perrennial, daylily,and herb gardener. Oh, if only I had more time and money, and my body would hold up, I could conquer it all!

You might also like to visit my cooking blog at An Herbal Bedfellow. http://anherbalbedfellow.com