Gardening in the Blind


More Herbs in flower
July 27, 2011, 9:42 pm
Filed under: bees, Herbs, outdoor gardening

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Just to continue with the beautiful flowers my herbs are displaying, I thought I would show you soapwort to start this post off.  The herb is so prolific, it has amazed me.  See what it looked like last year and what I do with it here.  I think it is safe to say it is four times the size in just one year!

Giving the deck a short break, let me take you to the side of the house, where I transplanted feverfew from the front to make room for the lavender.  I wanted to start growing feverfew about three years ago, as I read it was good for magraines which my sister suffers from.  I have yet to dry any for her, but enjoy the plant immensely.  The small little daisy like flowers make me smile with rememberance of childhood.  It is a happy plant, although not that happy as bees really don’t like it.



Can we help the Honey bee?
January 21, 2010, 5:18 am
Filed under: bees

happy bee

Imagine, you get dressed to go check on your beehive.  All prepared for the loud buzzing noise when you grab the smoker and reach the hive, but something is wrong, it is silent.  Opening the hive all adult bees are gone except the queen.  They had vanished.  There were no sign of dead bees, no sign of any active bees.  The only thing left is their newly hatched brood abandoned.  This is CCD.  In years to come scientist will continue to study this disorder to find an answer.  They are concentrating on three potential culprits: pathogens, environmental chemicals and nutritional Stressors. 

On any given day, the bees come into contact with a varied of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.  Although it is not believed to be the main cause, it is largely believed to contribute to the problem.  A pesticide called neoicotinoids, which are known to be toxic to honey bees.  This pesticide is still available for everyday use.  Research is expanding into other common ingredients as well.  I suspect this is something we will be hearing a lot of over the coming years.  

Moving on to 18 pathogens have been found that are specific to CCD.  Scientists are working to try to see if it may be one of these specific pathogens that are causing or playing a major role within CCD.  It amazes me that software for assisting scientists have developed into such needed tools.  Penn State Agriculture among others are leading the studies. 

Global warming and changing in habitat have left the honey bees not eating as well as they once did.  The suburban landscape focusing on te removal of weeds as well as fence rows and other areas that once offered divers and continual pollen sources have almost eliminated natural food for bees.  This results in the beekeeper having to produce and feed artificial feed for the bees.  People need to be reminded that a beautiful green lawn is like the desert to a honey bee.  Not much to offer.  This is also effecting many other pollinators as well.  We have seen a decline in population of butterflies, bumblebees, moths among others.  

So given all of this, I am going to stay true to my beliefs.  I am planting a “bee garden” in front of my house to give the bees pollen, I am planting lots of plants/herbs/flowers that bees could enjoy.  I am staying true to my approach to gardening by not using chemicals and I am also helping my neighbors do the same.  And lastly I am hoping that scientists will stay investigating and not give up until a cause and solution have been found. 

  
 

 



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.



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.)

Marjoram

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

Rosemary

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)

Aster

and lastly

Sunflowers

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