Gardening in the Blind

Chemical free?
December 16, 2009, 5:03 pm
Filed under: bees, Green

I heard a stunning statistic that approximately 70% of your groceries at the local grocery store contain GMOs.  I was so shocked I started doing more research into this.  It was here that I found some very sad news.

Monsanto is a giant evil company.  Just watch Food Inc. or read one of the books by Michael Pollan, or just ask some farmers who want to save seeds for next years crops.  They are a large bio-tech company that produces Genetically Modified seeds.  The latest is the sugar beet – You know the one that black strap molasses and sugar come from and wheat.  Both put into the market without testing. 

But, on Monday, Sept. 21, a federal judge ordered regulators to conduct detailed scientific studies to determine the effect of the GMO sugar beets on the environment, a move that could preclude farmers from planting the crop next year.  That is good considering about 95 percent of the 1.16 million acres of sugar beets planted this year in the United States were GMOs, industry officials said.

Has our life got so out of hand that we could not imagine live without chemicals?  When did this happen?  Why did we as Americans allow this to happen?  The surprises never need this week.

The ladybugs out of the box

I ran across an article about a tree farm in Canada that is organic.  I started to wonder, do they put chemicals on the Christmas trees?  I am sad to have to admit the truth.  Yes.  They put pesticides normally ground applied to the trees and use herbicides.  This farm in Canada controls this with one order every year.  This order is for ladybugs.  Yes, that is right, ladybugs.  The ladybugs control the bugs.  Something simple yet is not the first line of defense for most farmers. 

So, not only was the GMO sugar this past year found in your cereal, your Christmas tree couldn’t escape it either.  But it doesn’t stop there this week.  It keeps on going.

Listening to a podcast called organically managed beekeeping, I learned something very interesting.  It is almost universal practice to use chemicals for controlling pests and diseases.  It got Deron and I thinking, we go out-of-the-way not to use chemicals on the garden, in the house, around us at all.  So why should we start now?  

I emailed the president of the Worcester county beekeepers club   to see if there was anyone doing this without chemicals.  She is still trying to find someone for me to chat with.  Not a good sign.  So I have been doing more research on this.  I found that there are people who are breeding the bees back to a healthy size and keeping healthy hives without chemicals.  I just haven’t found any around me yet.  But I am sure I will and I am sure I will be blogging more about this honey bee situation that I am finding so much information about.


Wishing for an herb or two..
December 8, 2009, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Herbs

Here it is the first weekend in December and I have a basket full of green stuff from the garden.  This is the reason that I have fallen head over heels for gardening!  As a snow fall threatens the northeast, I have been scrambling to get stuff done.  I cut a lot of parsley, thyme, winter savory, a lonely carrot, horehound, leeks, and three parsnips.  One of the parsnips was the size of a baseball on top!  Deron is going to make me a birthday dinner (I much prefer his cooking to going out).  I requested beef stew – perfect for a cold wintery day it is supposed to be (we are celebrating it a day early as week days are hard).  I told him he had to use something that I brought in for it!

On another note, I love to research and grow herbs.  It is exciting to me.  I think I get a little carried away sometimes as I have a love of more hard to find herbs that when selling any, no one wants as they are not sure what to do with them. 

My wish list is getting a little big this year.  I think that as I go to plan it all out, I am going to find that I simply can’t plant everything that I want, but I am aiming high!  So, here it is:

Angelica – leaves fresh or dry can be used.  The stems when candied have a flavour similar to licorice.

American Arnica – great used externally for bruises, burns and inflammations.  perennial

Cilantro – excellent in keeping pests at bay

Mammoth Dill – I’m going to need in order to make dilly beans!

Eucalyptus – a powerful antiseptic.  It also helps deodorize the air.

Feverfew – in case it doesn’t come back. 

Hollyhock – I just happen to love them.  They only flower on the second year.

Horehound – anything that increases tomato produce needs to be in mass quantities here!

Lovage – I am going to try again this year for this herb

Mallow – used to moisturize and tone skin.

French marigolds – excellent insect control

Parsley – flat leaf

Sweet Pink – edible flowers with clove scent


Summer Savory

Winter Savory

Baikal Scullcap


Garden Sorrel

The hills are alive with the sound of Honeybees
December 4, 2009, 3:34 pm
Filed under: bees, Herbs

Ok, a little bit of an exaggeration.  If there is one thing I am looking forward to getting, it would be honey bees.  There is a saying I truly like: “No bees, no honey; no work, no money”.  I don’t know the wise person that stated it, but I can tell you that no pollination means no crops.  We are dependant on this little things.

Coming under fire for the lack of bees, I have been forced to do some research.  Afterall, I want my bees to be as healthy as possible.  It seems that there are two ways of looking at the lack of bees.  One is blaming pesticides the other is also stating in-breeding to make the perfect bee has genetically modified them so that they are not as immune and more susceptable to disease.  I personally feel it is probably both that is aiding in this lack of bees.  So, I am going to do my part in trying to protect a hive and make it happy hopefully.

I was amazed that I am already growing some things bees like.  I planted a beebalm last year and will plant another again this year.  I also found out that bees like mint, catnip, oregano, sage and lemon balm all of which I have already established.  That is a great start!  But my list needed to grow to keep them healthy.

Below are more plants I am looking into growing for the happy bees.  If you have a plant that you seem to see more bees on that is not listed, please drop me a line.

echinacea (showy, daisy-like purple flowers on tall stems)

Hyssop (small shrub, bearing spikes of intense blue flowers),

Lavender (I had some last year, but never had it sucessfully winter.)

Wallflower (fragrant golden yellow flowers useful in potpouriis and as cut flowers).

Genovese Basil  (the number one item requested when I was selling my herbs out front)

Queenette Thai Basil (my favorite basil for Deron to cook with) 

Blue stocking Beebalm ( This is an enormous violet-purple flowers that keeps blooming until frost.)

Black-eyed Susan (not only to bees like, this wildflower is pretty as well!)

Borage (known as the “Herb of Gladness”.  I don’t need to say more.)

Buckwheat (known as a grain, cover crop and beeplant.)


Mint (attract honeybees and love the taste! – Can’t go wrong with that combination.)


Meadowsweet (bears flowers in the early summer – an important time that I found I was lacking)

Jacob’s ladder (early perennial)

Verbena (perfect for drinks and a little catch of scent)


and lastly


Tell me more – I want to make the hive so happy they won’t want to leave!