It’s Not To Late to Plant

Good news!!  It may be July, but it is not too late to plant many types of vegetables and herbs in your garden that can be planted now for a plentiful bounty for the fall.

Be sure to prep your garden area or beds with good nutrition (click here for a good list of ways) to make the soil nice and rich. You will also want to make sure that you have mulching materials. This will help your plants retain good moisture during the hot parts of the day.

Here are some of the veggies and herbs for a great late summer / early fall crop:

Arugula, Beans (snap), Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts (Zone 2), Cabbage, Carrots (Zone 2), Chinese Cabbage, Cilantro, Endive, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce (head and leaf), Parsley, Radish, Rutabaga, Spinach

It is best to check in with the Planting Zone you live in for more specifics on best practices and to make the most out of your efforts.

Happy Planting!!!

 

 

Planting for Your Honeybees: High Honey Production

As a backyard or urban beekeeper, you will need to ensure that your honeybees can find the pollen and nectar they need to build and support a healthy hive, and in the process, produce quality honey. Though your bees will go into other backyards and gardens to forage for pollen and nectar, your backyard should provide a plethora of flowers and plants that will provide the necessities for your bee colony.

Bees and Pollen

 

Plants with high nectar and/or pollen content are the best plants to fill your garden with. The following ten plants are particularly attractive to honeybees due to their high nectar and/or pollen content:

  1. Borage (Borago offcinalis)
  2. Lemon Balm/Melissa (Melissa officinalis)
  3. Phacelia (Phacela tanacetifolia)
  4. White Sweet Clover (Melilotus alba)
  5. Echium (Echium vulgare)
  6. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
  7. Yellow Sweet Clover (Melilotus officinalus)
  8. Goldenrod (Solidago)
  9. Cornflower/Bachelor’s Button (Centaurea cyanus)
  10. Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)

You will need to check with your local nursery to see which of these plants are the best for your climate and area of the country. You should also consult with other local beekeepers to learn about other plants that are high in nectar and pollen that will contribute to higher rates of honey production.

You can also check out these website for more information:

“Plants for Honeybees,” The Melissa Garden: a Honeybee Sanctuary

“Guide to Bee-Friendly Gardens, Urban Bee Gardens

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The Truth about Bats

Bats have been the cause of fear and trepidation for centuries, as well as the subject of scary stories and horror films. Over the years, scientists have proven that bats are vital to a variety of ecosystems, though. This knowledge, hopefully, has allayed some people’s fears about bats, and some have even gone so far as provide roosting places for bats in their own backyards.

bat

Many scientists and organizations work to preserve bat species throughout the world, as well as educate the public about their value. Bats play a key role in many ecosystems by providing insect population control. According to S. Chambers and N. Allen in “Create Roosts for Bats in Your Yard” (The Wildlife Garden set, Oregon State University), “in North America, bats are the primary predators of night-flying insects. Some species of bat can capture several hundred insects an hour, including insect species that can devastate valuable plants and crops.”

In tropical or desert areas (even in the United States), some species of bats are important for pollination and spreading seed of a variety of plants, including such important crop plants as bananas, peaches, and mangoes.

With 1,100 species in the world, bats count for about 20% of all mammals. With their key role in insect control and pollination, it is plain to see that it is important to preserve bats’ natural habitats and protect bats in urban settings as well. Check back later this week to learn what you can do to protect and encourage bats in your garden or backyard.

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Feed the Birds

If you go into the feed or pet store, you will find a variety of options for your bird feeders…but which one do you choose? Well that highly depends on the type of birds you would like to attract, the area you live in and the time of year. Below is a list of feed items you can find fairly easily at any feed store and some grocery stores that have bulk are even carrying them. A big key to success is to try a small amount, wait and watch. Once you find what works for your area, you will be set. Like all of us, those feathered friends do like variety so don’t be afraid to mix it up a bit.

Do take note. Plan where you have your feeders please. Seed will fall and in the wet months (which is when the birds need it the most) they will likely sprout.

Mealworms

This is a nice option to provide for insect eaters in the winter months when the food supply is low, they will even feed them to their babies. You can opt for the freeze dried or live. Both can be found at most pet stores.

When Best to Provide:
Winter & Spring

Birds It will Most Likely Attract:
Mockingbirds, Robins, Bluebirds

Black Oil or Striped Sunflower

These are popular in most seed mixes. The black oil sunflower seeds are smaller and higher in fat. Birds tend to like these best. Striped seeds are larger, have a harder shell and do not attract as many birds.

When Best to Provide:
Any time

Birds It will Most Likely Attract:
House Finches, Nuthatches, Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Jays, Goldfinches

Black Sunflower Seeds

Black Sunflower Seeds

Fresh Fruit

Fresh apples, grapes or oranges are a great treat for birds.

When Best to Provide:
Summer & Fall, when fruit can be found fresh and in season

Birds It will Most Likely Attract:
Tangers, Orioles, Woodpeckers, Waxwings, Robins

Fruit for the Birds

Fruit for the Birds

Nectar

This can be easily made at home. You can find several sources for a recipe online or here is one from the Domino Sugar website. Skip the food coloring, it is unnecessary and is harmful to the birds. This is not just for humming birds, there are several nectar lovers.

When Best to Provide:
Any time of year

Birds It will Most Likely Attract:
Humming Birds, Orioles, Woodpeckers

Millet

This seed is small round seed and there are several different types; Red, golden and white. The red and golden are not as popular with most birds. The white is the main ingredient in most mixed bird seed blends.

When Best to Provide:
Any time of year

Birds It will Most Likely Attract:
Sparrows, Juncos, Cardinals, Bobwhites, Quail, Doves, Buntings

Millet

Millet

Safflower

It looks similar to the sunflower seed but has a white coating. It is an alternative seed if you want to discourage Starlings or House Sparrows.

When Best to Provide:
Any time of year

Birds It will Most Likely Attract:
Chickadees, Nuthatches, House Finches, Jays , Goldfinches, Grosbeaks, Cardinals

Suet

This can be homemade or store bought. Suet can be simply just animal fat or a mixture of seeds, animal fat, berries and nut butter. It is a great source os fat and is highly important during the winter months to help keep those feathered friend warm. 

When Best to Provide:
Fall & Winter

Birds It will Most Likely Attract:
Chestnut-Backed Chickadee, Red-Breasted Nuthatch, Thrushes, Orioles, Grosbeaks, American Robin

Nuts

Unsalted peanuts are best if you are going to offer them whole, as they are less expensive and easier to shell. If you opt for shelled variety, just make certain they are raw if possible and unsalted . They are a good source of protein and fat for the colder months. The warmer months they spoil faster.

When Best to Provide:
Fall & Winter

Birds It will Most Likely Attract:
Jays, Nuthatches, Mockingbirds, Woodpeckers, Chickadees, House Sparrows, Cardinals, House Finches

Nuts for Birds

Nuts for Birds

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Preparing Your Yard for Fall? Consider Ways to Help the Wildlife Through Winter

Fall is a time when the garden and yard finishes off its harvest and begins to prepare for a season of sleep. As caretakers we begin to rake and clip back plants to clean things up and put the gardens and flower beds to bed for winter. This ritual of annual cleanup is actually counterproductive to the wild life that may live in our yards. We are removing a major source of food and shelter. This does not mean you have to abandon your usual autumn chores, but there are a few things you can keep in mind that will help your furry, feathered and slithery friends.

Skip the Bag and Mulch

Leaves and grass clippings make great mulch for your garden and flower beds. Apply about two to three inches of mulch around the yard. In addition to providing some shelter for wildlife, this also gives your perianal plants and vegetable beds some nutrients. You can also create a brush pile if you can spare a corner of your yard. Stray branches, twigs and leaves provide nesting materials for squirrels, ground birds, rabbits and hibernating insects and amphibians. You can compost these in the spring for your garden soil.

Put Down The Clippers

Hold off clipping back all the flowers and seed heads. These can provide birds and critters with some food through the fall and into winter. Flowers such as cone-flowers, sunflowers and marigolds are loved by the wildlife.

Provide Food and Water Sources

In bird baths or shallow basins, float a tennis ball to prevent freezing. If possible change out the water during the winter months. Heated bird baths are also available if you want to invest to keep your feathered guests happy. Providing suet and a high protein seed mix in your bird feeders will help them find the calories needed to survive till spring.

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Planting Cool Crops for the Fall Harvest

In August the garden is overflowing with the fruits of our labor all summer long, but it is also the perfect time to plant crops for a late Fall harvest…cool crops that will give you some fresh veggies before Winter takes over. The cooler weather will not produce as large of a crop, but will be plenty to keep things fresh. Here is a list of vegetables that you can be sown directly into the garden. Make certain to keep them damp and add a thin layer of compost on top to help feed your new crop. You will want to check your specific region for any special instructions…consult your local nursery or garden book:

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  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Broccoli (Transplants)
  • Brussels sprouts (Transplants)
  • Cabbage (Transplants)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower (Transplants)
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Leeks (Transplants)
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard greens
  • Peas
  • Radishes
  • Spinach

Sit back and enjoy the end of Summer, knowing you have a lovely bounty ahead!

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Grow a Tea Garden

Make Your Own Herbal Tea

Nothing is as delightful as clipping fresh herbs from your garden and brewing a fresh pot of tea. Fresh, relaxing and refreshing ingredients gives tea drinking a whole different experience. The flavor will be different from dried store bought teas, plus it is a money saver if you grow your own.

You will only need to purchase a few items to help make the experience easier. Start with finding a sturdy pair of kitchen shears. These are a set you want to keep clean and in the kitchen. Another helpful item is a colander or mesh basket. You can harvest your herbs and  take them straight to the sink to be rinsed. The last two item that are helpful are a sturdy tea jar and a small fine mesh bag that you can place your herbs in for steeping.

Image

Choosing Tea Herbs to Grow

As you are putting in your garden consider planting some of your favorites, as well as try some more exotic herbs to try. Here is a great list to start with: Peppermint, Spearmint, Lemon Balm, Chamomile and Rose-Hips. Some additional herbs to try are the variety of mints: Orange Mint, Chocolate Mint and Pineapple Mint.

Brewing a Perfect Cup of Herbal Sun-Tea

The first step is to properly wash your herbs. Fill a large pot and add a cap-full of lemon juice and a tsp of baking soda. Swirl the herbs around and then rinse well. It is best to use the herbs as soon as possible for the best flavor. Place the herbs in the mesh bag or you can tie them in a bundle and place in your tea jar. Run your tap water as hot as you can get it and fill the jar. You can use bottled water if you like. Place the jar in the sun and allow to steep. The longer it steeps, the stronger the flavor. Remove the herbs when you are ready and place in the fridge.

Now sit back and enjoy…what a treat to know that you grew something so wholesome and tasty!

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Tip for The Home & Garden: The Dreaded Weeds

Every home owner or renter for the most part can relate to the problem with keeping up on the weeds around the house. Even if you do not have a large yard to look after, those sneaky weeds pop through any crack they can find and of couse have amazing roots to keep them there. We have take a two prong approach to treating weeds around the house and garden.

First we use some chemicals on areas that we know the pets and kids will not be around and also on areas that we know will not have a lot of run off into ground water or road. Making the choice on which one to use can be tricky, but finding something that will be effective and not have to be applied over and over again so that you are using a little as possible. Also the method of application is key, using a sprayer with the applicator on the smallest stream possible so you can keep is low and avoid over spray. The type we have found to work best is Ground Clear by Ortho

Secondly we use a natural weed killer and have found a great mixture that really does do the trick, here is the recipe:

1 Gal of White Vinegar

1 C. Table Salt

1 Tbsp of liquid Dawn Dish Soap

Mix in Sprayer and Apply

Kill those dreaded weeds

This works best to apply first to kill the weeds that are there. When the weeds have died back, pull them and apply again. This solution does have to be re-applied regularly, but it is safe around kids, pets and wildlife. It does not work on really stubborn weeds such as blackberries or bulb based plants, but it keeps many other weeds away.

The dreaded weeds will always be there to plague you, but if you have the ability to consistently get out there and take some action, you will appreciate the benefit in the long run.

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NW Area Farmer’s Markets

Vancouver & Portland Area Farmers’ Markets

It is getting to be that time of year…soon the rain will lift and you can stroll down to your local market for a delighful array of fresh fruits, vegitables and local vendors. Here are some of the area markets, click on the link to go to their website.

Old Town Market                        Battle Ground, WA (Saturday)
Camas Farmers’ Market             Camas, WA (Wednesday)
Ridgefield Farmers’ Market         Ridgefield, WA (Saturday)
Vancouver Farmers’ Market       Vancouver, WA (Saturday & Sunday)

Garden Veggies

Beaverton Farmers’ Market        Beaverton, OR (Wednesdays & Saturday)
Canby Farmers’ Market              Canby, OR (Saturday)
Cedar Mill Farmers’ Market         Beaverton, OR (Saturday)
Cully Farmers Market                  Portland, OR (Sunday)
Estacada Farmer’s Market          Estacada, OR (Saturday)
Forest Grove Farmers’ Market    Forest Grove, OR (Wednesday)
Gladstone Summer Market         Gladstone, OR (Saturday)
Gresham Farmers Market           Gresham, OR (Saturday)
Hollywood Farmers Market         Portland, OR (Saturday)

tomatoes

Hillsboro Farmers’ Market           Hillsboro, OR (Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday)
Irvington Farmers Market            Portland, OR (Sunday)
Lloyd Farmers Market                 Portland, OR (Saturday)
Milwaukie Farmers Market          Milwaukie, OR (Sunday)
Moreland Farmers Market           Portland, OR (Wednesday)
North Plains Farmers’ Market     North Plains, OR (Saturday)
Oregon City Farmers Market      Oregon City, OR (Saturday)

Peaches
Parkrose Farmers Market           Portland, OR (Saturday)
Peoples Coop                                 Portland, OR (Wednesday)
Portland Farmers’ Market           Portland, OR (Saturday)
Scappoose Farmers’ Market       Scappoose, OR (Saturday)
Windance Farms and Art            Portland, OR (Thursdays)
Woodstock Farmers Market       Portland, OR (Sunday)

 

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Be Nice to the Bees | Buy Plants that Are Bee Friendly

Both Home Depot and Lowes are stepping up to help protect the bee population. Home Depot has required nurseries to label plants treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, and Lowe’s has made a commitment to phasing out sales of products that contain them.

What are neonicotinoids you ask?…Neonicotinoids are a new breed of insecticides that are chemically related to nicotine. Like nicotine, the neonicotinoids act on certain kinds of receptors in the nerve synapse.  They are more toxic to invertebrates, like insects, than other higher organisms, which is why they are attractive to deter insects. They have become popular because they are water soluble, which allows them to be applied to soil and be taken up by plants.

 

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So what is the danger?  New research points to to the impact on bees and other beneficial insects. The exposure in a plants pollen passes on a low level contamination. The exposure level does not normally kill bees directly, but is found to effect some bees’ ability to foraging for nectar and locate , and possibly impair their ability to find their way home to the nest or hive.

When shopping for plants, ask question. Identify resources in your area that provide organic and non-neonic product selections.

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