Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson and Kim Palmer are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
Perhaps it was the lack of mud this Spring, but I’m prepared for the garden to commence it’s escape from the grips of winter. One raised bed’s soil was turned and peas, lettuce and radish were planted. Check - that’s ready. We had a guy out to aerate the lawn – check.
The trellises are tied to the fence, spaced and ready for cucumbers. And this year, I’m planting morning glories on one of the trellis. Why? For my honeybees!
That’s where I’m REALLY ready. We’ve been keeping bees for over 15 years at our cabin. With good years and bad, bumper crops and bears. I’m happy to report that the fine city of Edina has passed a honeybee ordinance.
Everything for our backyard apiary has checked out. The neighbors have time to send
in grievances, but we are hoping for the best. The kids next door can’t wait to see me in my "bee outfit."
Bees are pretty self-sufficient; you don’t really need to do too much for them. Things are starting to bloom already, so we won’t feed them, we just need check once in a while to make sure they have adequate room to grow. And grow, I hope they do.
By August we hope to have about 120,000 bees housed in our small lot. It might get a little crowded, but we are hoping for the best. The girls (the majority of bees in the hive are immature females), will have an abundance of nectar, a safe bear-free environment, and keepers that are looking forward to nicely pollinated apples, pears and vegetables.
Are you ready for Spring? What’s on your check sheet?
Gardens spring forth with high hopes, but by mid-August, the garden is what it is. It's time to savor the successes -- and write off what didn't pan out this year. Here's what's going on in my garden, the good, the bad and the ugly:
THE GOOD: We are now harvesting awesomely delicious tomatoes, plus as much basil and oregano as we can pick. Squash and peppers will soon be ripe and ready for the table. And my nasturtiums are still ablaze with tasty blooms for tossing in salads. I love the peppery kick of the flowers and the leaves.
On the ornamental front, one of my succulents surprised me by shooting off a long arm, which is now covered with hot-pink buds. I've never gotten a succulent to flower before. Cool!
THE BAD: What happened to the morning glories? I plant them every year, usually from seed, and I typically get like three flowers, and not until early October. This year, I bought plants at the garden center, figuring that would speed up the flowering. But I still haven't seen a single bloom -- just a few feeble bud-like nubs that dried up and fell off. What the heck?
THE UGLY: An intruder has discovered my awesomely delicious tomatoes. Every morning when I check the vines, there are two or three more tomatoes with giant gaping bites taken out of them. I suspect the bold chipmunk I often see darting around my deck. But we also have an army of squirrels snacking on maple seeds in the tree right above my tomato pots, so it could be one of them. I'm glad they're enjoying them -- we have enough to share.
What's good, bad or just-plain ugly in your garden, now that summer is winding down?
I'd made a few efforts this weekend to try to ward them off, knowing that the riper the tomatoes got, the more vulnerable to marauders they become. But a ring of netting didn't deter the varmints, so I'm going to have to take sterner measures.
In the meantime, until I get to a store for more defense supplies, I've started taking the precaution of picking them far sooner than I would ordinarily prefer, just so we get some tomatoes this year, even if they're counter-ripened.
Do squirrels attack your tomatoes? And what measures have you had success and failure with when it comes to protecting your bounty?
Walking along Franklin Avenue Friday after work, I was passing a tiny front-yard garden when something caught my eye. Bees, two big fat ones, were busily foraging among the coneflowers.
I paused to watch them in action, marveling at their ability to find the few flowers in an urban forest of concrete.
Bees, their decline, and the important work they do to pollinate our food supply, are getting a lot of attention these days. If you're interested in learning more about how to protect bees, provide habitat or maybe even start keeping bees, head to Lyndale Park Gardens on Thursday evening. From 5 to 8 p.m., there will be a free " Pollinator Party" on the lawn near the Lake Harriet Peace Garden.
The event brings together scientists, educators and beekeepers, with opportunities to learn about everything from urban beekeeping to making your back yard more bee-friendly. But it's also a fun event to stop by and just hang out, with live music, activities for kids, food and beverages to purchase, and at dusk, a showing of the Disney movie "Wings of Life."
For more information, visit:
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