Thursday, June 26, 2014

Where Have All the Bees Gone?

In my last garden, I remember stepping out into my backyard and hearing a hum rising up from all the bees enjoying the clover and other flowers.

honeybee on clover
Two years later, I now have a new garden and a nice big patch of clover, but...

where are all the bees?

are the bees hiding from me?
Oh yes, if I search I can find a few bees..

Bumble bee on salvia
But it is worrisome.  
Is it because so many bees died off after the hard winter?
Am I seeing the effects of Colony Collapse Disorder?
Or is it because my garden isn't as established yet and hasn't been 'discovered'?

a tiny sweat bee, covered in pollen
There seem to be a lot of factors affecting bee numbers.  It is a perfect storm for bees and other pollinators out there - pesticides, pathogens, parasites, loss of habitat, and a harsh winter on top of that.

label on a bottle of Tree & Shrub 'Protect & Feed' granules
Imidacloprid and Clothianidin are Neonicotinoids, pesticides that absorbed into the plant and are suspected of being harmful to bees
In good news, though, the topic has been getting so much attention that pressure is being put on law makers.  Last week, during National Pollinator Week, the White House announced a Presidential Memorandum to address the loss of bees, monarchs, and other pollinators.  The memorandum established a task force to look into the problem and come up with a plan.  It also ordered pollinator-friendly practices to be put into effect on federal lands in order to build up habitat.

Bumble bee on holly
Well, we all know government, so we'll see how effective this will be, but at least it is a step in the right direction.

miner bee on clover
As my rather empty patch of clover knows,
the pollinators need all the help they can get!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Curse of a Gardening Overachiever

After the long winter, the call of the garden has been strong, and it's been a fast and furious spring gardening season these past few weeks.  

front walkway garden in early May.. late May
...and mid June.
Of course our big spring project has been our red veggie garden, but in addition to building, tilling soil, and hauling rocks for that garden, I've also spent quite a few afternoons digging up other areas of the yard.  I've had (and still have!) lots of seedlings to plant from my seed starting and winter sowing

Almost all of the seeds I winter-sowed grew quite well!
I've also received a number of plants from several generous gardeners whose gardens were overflowing (I highly recommend joining a gardening club if you love plants!)  

Have extra plants in the garden?  I'll take them!
(This one is a Campanula, I believe.)
The past few weeks have also been devoting to watering and caring for all my new little plant-lings and keeping a close eye on all the local critters (which I shall introduce to you at a later time).

Woohoo!  Snow peas!
Unfortunately, I've been so busy this spring, that, while my gardens are shaping up nicely, I've apparently overdone it.  I now have tendonitis in both wrists and am forced to hang up my shovel for a little while.

Grrr... so much I want to do!
I guess that's the problem when a new garden and an impatient, overachieving gardener meet.  I have so many grand visions of what I want my garden to look like, and of course it will take a few years to achieve anything close to that.  (I just have to keep having to remind myself of that fact!) 

But it does give me a little more time to blog now..

My Nicotiana is starting to bloom and smelling wonderful.
...and some time to slow down and actually smell some of those flowers!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Our New Red Veggie Garden!

After several weeks of digging, stone excavating, building, and painting, our veggie garden is finally ready for the big reveal:

Ta da!
Our veggie garden fence is finally done! 

our (hopefully!) critter-proof veggie garden fence!
Knowing that we have rabbits, groundhogs, and deer in the area to fend off, we did our best to make our garden safe for the veggie plants.

Veggies tasty for the critters are on the inside of the fence.
On the outside are plants usually avoided, such as rhubarb and ground cherries 
The bottom part has 1/2" wire mesh to keep out the smaller critters.  We dug trenches and buried the mesh a foot down to hopefully deter the tunneling groundhogs (or, as we call them, R.O.U.S.'s).  

Larger-holed mesh covers the middle chunk, and wire is strung near the top to hopefully prevent the deer from thinking this was a free, all-you-can-eat salad buffet.

I have to give major props to the fabulous Mr. Red House, who designed and built this gorgeous arbor and gate for me!

Within, the garden holds pretty much all the components of several types of salsa, as well as a mean salad or two.  Having quite the plethora of stones after digging up the ground for the garden, the veggie beds are lined with (can you guess?) rocks.  

Our veggie garden only contains organic, hand-dug, native rocks.
'Cause that's the way we roll...
There is still a little more stone-moving and filling up of ditches to be done, but I'm so happy that the garden is pretty much done and the veggies are in the ground!

Happy gardening!
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