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Create a Pollinator Garden

What you can do? Tips for Creating a Pollinator Friendly Garden Habitat

By planting a pollinator-friendly garden you are making a difference for honey bees, bumble bees, other bees and pollinators that bring us 1 in every 3 bites of food.
Establishing habitat can be challenging but there are certain things you can do to make it easier and more successful. You are probably aware of many of the points listed below; use what is helpful to your site and disregard what is not.

SITE SELECTION

  • Choose a sunny location.
  • Pick a site that has water access; most plantings usually need water for at least the first few weeks while they establish.
  • Start with a manageable size for YOU to plant and maintain – a window box is enough if that is what works for you.
  • Look for sites that are protected from strong wind.
  • Provide nearby ground nesting sites with bare ground or debris (don’t be too tidy!) and wood nesting sites with wood blocks.
  • Provide a source of water.

PLANT SELECTION – PLANTS VS. SEEDS

  • Seeds will take longer to provide habitat, but they can cover more ground and cost less.
  • Select native plants whenever possible (the FREE ecoregional planting guides at www.pollinator.org are really helpful for all!)
  • The plants you select must provide nectar for carbohydrate and pollen for protein to the pollinators.
  • Different floral shapes and colors will attract different pollinators.  The Pollinator Partnership’s Ecoregional Guides will help identify pollinator needs.
  • Monarch butterflies require regionally specific milkweeds on which they will lay their eggs, and also nectar supplying plants to fuel their flights.
  • Though native plants are most helpful to local ecosystems and  pollinators; here is a list of plants that do pretty well everywhere and are widely available:
  • Lavandula spp. (Lavender)
    Rosemarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
    Salvia spp. (Sage)
    Echinacea spp. (Coneflower)
    Helianthus spp. (Sunflower)
    Cercis spp. (Redbud)
    Nepeta spp. (Catnip)
    Penstemon spp. (Penstemon)
    Stachys spp. (Lamb’s ears)
    Verbena spp. (Verbena)
    Phacelia spp. (Bells or Phacelia)
    Aster spp. (Aster)
    Rudbeckia spp. (Black-eyed Susan)
    Origanum spp. (Oregano)
    Achilliea millefolium (Yarrow)

 

PLANTING/SEEDING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Plant like plants together – pollinators like large targets to find their source of food.
  • Plan for continuous bloom throughout the growing season so that a good food source is always in bloom.
  • Once you get your seed, store it in a cool dry place until you are ready to seed. Never store seed in a car, plastic bag or outside.
  • If you are uncertain, check the pH of your soil. For forge seed germination and establishment, the pH should be between 5.0 and 7.0. An inexpensive pH meter can be used to conduct this test. Remove all weeds and other debris from the pollinator buffer site.
  • Remove all grassy areas before seeding.
  • Evenly scatter the seed throughout.
  • If deer are a problem, install a deer fence.
  • Cover the newly scatter seed with no more than 1/4” of soil.
  • Water the newly seeded pollinator buffer weekly for 4-6 weeks post-seeding (if it is extremely hot and dry, water more frequently).

 

MAINTENANCE AND BEYOND

  • Be sure to have an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program in order to eliminate the impact of pesticides on pollinators.  Access to clean forage is critical to pollinator health.
  • Register your pollinator habitat – no matter what the size – on the Pollinator Partnership’s SHARE site (Simply Have Areas Reserved for the Environment).  You can create an account there and upload photos or videos of your pollinator garden.  You will locate your pollinator garden on a Google map that can be visited and updated again and again and connects you to all the “pollinator people” across the United States who are “sharing” a part of their neighborhood for pollinators.

Courtesy – http://pollinator.org/million-pollinator-garden-challenge.htm

Earth Day 2017

WHEN IS EARTH DAY 2017?

This observance always falls on April 22. On Earth Day, enjoy the tonic of fresh air, contact with the soil, and companionship with nature! Walk through the woods in search of emerging wildflowers and green moss. Go outside, no matter what the weather!

WHAT IS EARTH DAY?

Ever wondered how Earth Day started? This observance arose from an interest in gathering national support for environmental issues.

In 1970, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. McConnell chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22.

Millions of people participated, and today Earth Day continues to be widely celebrated with events on both dates.

The most common practice of celebration is to plant new trees for Earth Day.

EARTH DAY DATES

Year Earth Day
2017 Saturday, April 22
2018 Sunday, April 22
2019 Monday, April 22

EARTH DAY ACTIVITIES AND IDEAS

Celebrate Earth Day!

Butterfly Earth Day

Earth Day photo dew

EARTH DAY QUOTES AND POETRY

The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks, and gapes for drink again.
The plants suck in the earth and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair.

–Abraham Cowley

Are You Out of Your Gourd

gordIf you love to grow vegetables, but find you can never eat all your garden yields, here’s an alternative to researching new recipes in anticipation of your millionth tomato. Grow some decorative gourds in place of a portion of your usual edible veggies. Decorative gourds have potential as centerpieces, serving bowls, storage containers, birdhouses, and a wide range of children’s craft projects. You might be surprised that professional gourd artists can sell their art for as much as $20,000 and their artwork is displayed in galleries across the nation. If mastering the skills required for fine art gourds is not in your future, then consider the novelty of drying gourds for maracas and giving them to the youngsters in your family.

Once you decide how much time you are willing to devote to a project and your tolerance for crafting, choose the right gourd seeds for your family. Remember that a minimal amount of effort is required to grow small gourds for display in a basket. If you are not interested in growing gourds, but are intrigued by their potential uses, dried gourds can be purchased online anytime. Small decorative gourds are also available at the local farmer markets in late summer/autumn.

How To Prune Tomato Plants

When growing tomatoes, the ultimate goal is to help the plant yield as much ripe fruit as possible. If you’re growing indeterminate or “vining” varieties (Big Boy, Beef Master, most heirlooms), pruning your plants to remove unwanted shoots and leaves ensures that all the nutrients are going to the tomatoes. If you’re growing a determinate variety (Biltmore, Heinz, Patio), too much pruning is counterproductive. See Step 1 to learn when and how to prune a tomato plant.

Step 1

Determine which variety you’re growing. Before you make any cuts, figure out whether you’re growing an indeterminate or determinate variety of tomato plant. Indeterminate varieties grow like vines, and they must be trained upright on poles and pruned in order to grow correctly. Determinate varieties contain themselves before they grow into a bush, and they naturally direct their energy toward fruiting without needing as much intervention. Here are the common varieties of each:

  • Indeterminate: Big Boy, Beef Master, Black Prince, German Queen, most cherry tomato varieties and most heirloom varieties.
  • Determinate:Ace 55, Amelia, Better Bush, Biltmore, Heatmaster, Heinz Classic, Mountain Pride and Patio.

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Step 2
Locate the suckers for removal.
Look for the tiny new branches sprouting in the spot where a branch meets the stem on an indeterminate plant. These are called “suckers” and they’re what you want to remove. Suckers left to grow will take energy from the rest of the plant and cause the plant to bear fewer fruits. This isn’t always a bad thing, but strategically removing suckers will help your plant bear large fruit all season long.

  • Wait for the stems and leaves below the first set of flowers to turn yellow before doing anything.

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Step 3
Remove all suckers and their leaves below the first flower cluster.
Do this no matter what kind of tomato plant you have. This keeps the plant strong by helping it grow a sturdy central stem. [1] This should ensure that the majority of the nutrients are sent to the fruits, instead of being wasted on the unwanted growing tips.

  • To remove a sucker, grab a growing tip by the base between the thumb and forefinger and bend it back and forth until it snaps cleanly. This should ideally be done when the shoot is young and supple. The small wound will heal quickly. This is called “simple pruning”.
  • As for stems and leaves, not the suckers, growing below the first flower cluster: If you live in a warmer zone such as Zone 9, you should leave them on until they turn yellow. They are important for helping to shade the ground until the plant matures. On the other hand, if your plant is in a humid environment (such as a greenhouse), remove everything below the first flower cluster to improve ventilation. Humidity can make it easier for sicknesses to flourish, and it also causes the wounds that are created while pruning to dry up more slowly making the plant longer vulnerable. By improving ventilation, you’re helping to protect the plant.

 

Step 4
Leave the thicker shoots.
Thicker suckers should not be snapped off, since this could damage the whole plant. If it’s thicker than a pencil, use the “Missouri pruning” method and pinch out just the tip of the sucker, leaving one or two leaves behind for photosynthesis and to protect developing fruit from sun scald. The drawback is that suckers will develop from the stem that you leave behind, which will require additional pruning. This technique is better when you’re dealing with large suckers; if the wound becomes diseased, it will be further away from the main stem. This method also leaves a few inches on the sucker to reduce the shock to the plant.

  • Prune suckers all summer long to keep the plant healthy. They grow quickly, so you may need to prune once or twice a week

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Step 5
For indeterminate varieties, pinch off all but four or five fruit bearing trusses.
These are the branches that grow from the main stem above the first flower cluster. Four or five will produce large, healthy fruit, but any more than that and the fruit will be small and scant. Choose four or five sturdy trusses to keep, then pinch out any additional side shoots, leaving the plant’s top shoot intact, known as the terminal shoot.

  • Make sure the vine-like plants are tied to supports after flowering occurs. Otherwise, the vine will grow along the ground and won’t produce healthy tomatoes.[3]
  • Determinate plants already have a predetermined number of stems that will naturally grow, so there’s no need to do any pruning above the flower cluster. If you prune above the flower cluster, you’ll be removing fruit-bearing branches without helping the plant.[4]

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Step 6
Remove yellow leaves.
Yellow leaves are leaves that use up more sugar than they produce. As the plant begins to mature, the lower leaves will naturally begin to yellow and wilt. This is perfectly normal, so pull these from the plant when they appear. It will keep the plant fresh and help ward off disease.

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Step 7
Top the plant.
To get the best out of the last growth of the season, it is necessary to “top” the plant. About a month before the first expected frost, or when the plant hits the roof of your greenhouse, remove the plant’s terminal shoot. At this point in the season, the tomatoes currently growing will have a limited time to reach maturity, so all nutrients must be directed straight to the fruit.

This article was sourced from wikihow – http://www.wikihow.com/Prune-Tomatoes