Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka 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.
Gardens vacillate up and down, just like the weather.
Sometimes it’s not one, not two, but THREE bunnies nibbling at your bolted lettuce.
That’s what happened in my garden this week. What’s your hot and cold for the week?
Last night I got my first look at Edible Estate #15 since its installation over Memorial Day weekend.
A lot has changed. The tiny seedlings have blown up into big, beautiful vegetable plants -- more than 100 different crops, if you count color variations. The Schoenherrs' front yard in Woodbury is already producing so much food that the family of four can't eat it all. They're sharing veggies with their neighbors and bringing bags of lettuce to work to give to co-workers. "I don't want another salad for awhile," admitted Catherine Schoenherr.
She's most excited about the bright-purple cauliflower now peeping from its leaves. "We knew it was cauliflower but we didn't know it was purple," she said.
Her husband, John, is experimenting with pestos and juices, and their grown kids, Aaron and Andrea, are making salsa. And they're all trying to figure out what to do with chamomile, besides make tea.
Catherine has organized several "gardening nights" when neighbors are invited to come, pull a few weeds and bring home a bag of produce. And she'd like to plan a sauerkraut-making party later in the season. "We're going to have a ton of cabbage."
The garden is not open to the public, but the public can get a peek starting Aug. 8 at the Walker Art Museum, when it kicks off its Edible Estates exhibit, part of artist Fritz Haeg's residency. (Haeg is the creator of Edible Estates and the designer of the Schoenherrs' new landscape.) You can learn more about Haeg and his vision at: http://www.walkerart.org/magazine/2013/garden-all-seasons
We'll be featuring the Schoenherrs' new landscape in Home + Garden on Aug. 7. So what do you think? Would you want to grow this much food in your own front yard?
As a beekeeper, I read with dismay the solution to the pile of dead honeybees on a sidewalk in St. Paul.
I know it was the right thing to do. I know it was midnight and late to call out a beekeeper. But, gosh, it still makes my heart sink.
When we started beekeeping 10 years ago, we could buy three pounds of bees for about $40. Now, due to CCD and other rising costs, we buy the same number of bees for over $80. That pile of honeybees might have been worth something to someone.
That said, what can you do if you see a swarm or find that honeybees have taken residence in your home? The Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association is there to help. http://www.mnbeekeepers.com/
You can also Ask Buzz a question via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my garden over the years, and probably will continue to stumble my way through more in the years to come. But every mistake is a chance to learn, and there are only some mistakes that I repeat (sins like plant crowding and unwittingly unleashing invasive spreaders such as this variegated artemesia).
This came to mind when I read an article by Joe Lamp’l, host of “Growing a Greener World” on PBS, on his latest garden mistake: He found that the manure he was getting had lingering herbicide (aminopyralid, clopyralid and picloram) that affected his perennials (but sadly not his weeds). So his lesson learned was never use manure in garden beds if you are not sure of the chemicals used in the field that fed the animals. You can read more about it here: www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/213304681.html
My worst mistake was a doozy, and I still can’t believe I got by with it. I came home one day to find the rabbits had mowed down most of my coral bells. So I grabbed the spray bottle to douse the few remaining leaves with a pepper-based product that’s harmless, but acts as a deterrent because it makes the leaves less tasty.
Or at least I thought I did.
Somehow or another the spray bottles on the shelf were shuffled around and I grabbed one I didn’t even realize we had: Round Up. I doused about 10 feet of garden before I realized my horrific mistake. Oh, that was a bad moment.
I frantically Googled what to do. Apparently just hosing down the plants was thought to be a bad idea, because that could spread it further. (And did I mention that this strip of garden was right next to my neighbor’s fence? I knew someone who had used way too much Round Up on the weeds on her lawn and had killed not only her weeds, but her grass and sent streaks of brown grass through her neighbor’s pristine suburban lawn that lasted all year. Yikes.) So I very carefully wiped off every plant leaf with a damp cloth multiple times and then rinsed them off. And waited, knowing that the results of herbicide can take a while to set in. The next morning, still no signs of plant trauma, although my trauma was still in full force. No signs that night either, or ever, as it turns out, and more importantly, no signs of problems with my neighbor’s lawn.
So other than a half hour of panic and frenzy, and several days of chagrin, there was no harm done. But that’s one lesson that will stick with me, and now wire cloches protect those same coral bells from the latest generations of rabbits.
So, what’s the worst garden mistake you ever made?
Luckily, whatever mistakes we make, our gardens are fairly forgiving.
I've had bees on the brain the last couple growing seasons. I keep adding native flowering plants to my garden, to provide habitat for pollinators, and butterflies, too.
But so far, the mammals are beating the insects to the buffet. Virtually every new bee- or butterfly-friendly thing I've planted this year has been nipped in the bud -- literally -- by hungry mammals. They come in the night and chomp off all the new growth -- buds and leaves, leaving only shorn broken stems.
Coneflowers and swamp milkweed have been especially hard hit. The latest casualty was three cardinal flowers I planted just Sunday evening. By Monday morning, they were half their size (although I've since discovered that the red-leaved variety I bought isn't a native, strictly speaking, but a cultivar.)
I'm not sure if it's deer or rabbits devouring my native plants at night. I suspect deer because they're also eating the buds on taller, non-native plants, like roses and lilies.
I'd still like to provide habitat for bees and butterflies, but at this rate, it's not looking good for this season. Can anyone out there recommend some plants that bees and butterflies like -- but rabbits and deer aren't as likely to eat first?
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