Posts Tagged ‘Gardening’

Last year in June, before the deer discovered it, the bees were on the Meadowfoam everyday.

Last year in June, before the deer discovered it, the bees were on the Meadowfoam everyday.

If you’ve ever watched the bees on a Poached Egg Meadowfoam (Limnanthes Douglasii),  you will want to grow some for your bees.    Last year I bought 12 plants from my friendly nursery (101 Plants).  The bees were on them everyday.  Unfortunately, the deer discovered them, and mowed them down.  This year I’m happy to say I found a source for seeds.  I’m buying 1000 seeds for under $5.00 from Outside Pride in Oregon.  With that many seeds, I can scatter them in quite a few areas (fenced in, this time).  The bees will love them and so will I.

aaaaa

Another photo taken shortly before the deer decided to sample it last year.

I was under the mistaken impression that Meadowfoam was grown mostly in Oregon and Northern California, but I see the Royal Horticultural Society in Great Britain has a listing for it as a Poached Egg Plant.

The oil from Limnanthes Alba is valuable…According to Oregon Meadowfoam Growers, meadowfoam oil is 20 times more stable than soybean oil, which means it does not deteriorate as readily when exposed to air. A gallon of meadowfoam oil is worth about $200 retail.

February 2, 2014...the salvia is looking strong.  Footnote...we replaced some bulbs with the full spectrum bulbs this year.  Hoping to lessen the legginess.

February 2, 2014…the salvia is looking strong. Footnote…we replaced some bulbs in the light stand with the full spectrum bulbs this year hoping to lessen the legginess. These look good.

June 28, 2013...Penstemon is a great bumblebee attraction.

June 28, 2013…Penstemon is a great bumblebee attraction.

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June 9, 2013…Honeybees are getting nectar from the Pincushion Flowers (Scabiosa)

Don’t forget the butterflies!

February 3, 2014...received my Butterflyseed package today.  These bright flowers attract honeybees also.

February 3, 2014…received my Butterflyweed seed package today. These bright flowers attract honeybees also.

One of the beekeeping blogs I follow, written by Emma Sarah Tennant, featured a TED talk by Marla Spivak, showing the reasons why bees are disappearing and how we can help them by planting habitat.  We are proud to be a small part of a growing movement to help our wild pollinators.

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Some of the bulbs being planted for the bees

Some of the bulbs being planted for the bees.  I was able to purchase these locally from my favorite nursery, 101 Plants and Gifts.

It’s possible that everyone already knows certain bulbs provide an early nectar source for bees.  I might be new to the game because, well, I’ve never really been overly appreciative of growing flowers.  “They take up space and use precious water.”  Being on a shallow well makes you a water miser.  But these grow during the rainy season.  Some can even be planted in the front lawn, not taking up space or using extra water as in the Siberian Squill.  Being a beekeeper has changed my attitude towards flowers.  Now my motto is, ” You can never have too many (bee-loving) flowers.”

Since I recently broke up a new patch of ground for the Towers of Jewel ‘trees’, I have some extra space I can dedicate to bulbs.  Che Guebuddha,  a blogger from Sweden,  mentioned even more bulbs like the white Snow Drops and the yellow Eranthis.  A quick call to find out I can’t get them locally, but I CAN get them from John Scheepers on the east coast.  I order another 150 more.  Looks like I’ll have to break more ground.  As an after thought I wonder if I have to worry about poisons on the bulbs.  Alicia at the customer service desk of John Scheepers, Inc. assures me “there are no sprays, poisons, or toxins associated with these bulbs.”  Good!  They are going in next weekend.

With the addition of bulbs, we'll provide early nectar as well as summer food.

Newly planted “Tower of Jewel ‘trees.  I’m counting on these plants to grow about 10 feet (3 meters) this spring.  With the addition of bulbs, we’ll be able to provide an early nectar source as well as mid summer nourishment for the honeybees and bumblebees.

12-26-13...Persian Blue Alliums are up already.  I don't know if that's a good thing or not!  I'm protecting this patch because the sub freezing temps are bad for the echium...something I didn't think about when I planted the bulbs. :-(

12-26-13…Drumstick Alliums are up already. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not! I’m protecting this patch because the sub freezing temps are bad for the echium (Tower of Jewels)…something I didn’t think about when I planted the bulbs. 😦

February 5, 2014...Grape Hyacinth and 15 Drumstick Allium are up.  Giant Snowdrops just breaking.

February 5, 2014…Grape Hyacinth and 15 Drumstick Allium are up. Giant Snowdrops just breaking.

February 5, 2-14...close up of Grape Hyacinth.  My wife says I planted them too close together.  She might be right.

February 5, 2014…close up of Grape Hyacinth. My wife says I planted them too close together. She might be right.

 

 

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But they ARE echium ‘trees’;  more specifically, Towers of Jewels.

I spaded the this patch of turf, then kept finding more and more transplants to put in.

I spaded the this patch of turf, then kept finding more and more transplants to put in.

Last year the only one I had grew 10 feet (3 meters) in a single year.  The bumblebees loved it.  They worked it mid May til mid September.  I kept thinking about collecting seeds, then forgot.  Not to worry, I’ve got plenty of ‘upstarts’ now.

If I ever had any doubts that the Tower of Jewels would throw seeds, those doubts have vanished.  Self-seeded echium in garlic bed.

If I ever had any doubts that the Tower of Jewels would throw seeds, those doubts have vanished.      I’ve got to get these out of here to plant garlic.  If I don’t transplant them, my wife has threatened to ‘toss’ them.  Why?  We have so many.

The plants don't have big root balls.   Hope they take.

The plants don’t have big root balls. Hope they take.

These look a little wilty.

October 20, hummm, they look a little wilty.  I better water them.

November 9, 2013...They are starting to look better after I trimmed the lower leaves. What are the tires for?  They are to hold up the tarp to protect them from freezing.  Not too hard to cover them when they are this short.

November 9, 2013…They are starting to look better after I trimmed the lower leaves.
What are the tires for? They are to hold up a tarp to protect them from freezing.

November 13...Echium in the sun, looks good.

November 13…Echium in the sun, looks good.  This will be the area I’ll plant some of my “Bulbs for the Bees,”  Snowdrops, Winter Aconite, and Siberian Scilla.

According to Palmbob, at Dave’s garden, trying to transplant it, ends up killing it, but these are still growing almost a month after transplanting.    The Tower of Jewels is a member of the Boraginaceae family which includes borage (grows all year here) and comfrey which I planted 40 years ago and is still coming back.  I’m hoping these will grow to be tall nectar sources for bees and butterflies.

11-24-13...I've had to take drastic action for the cold weather.  Bags of leaves hold up the tarp, tires hold it down.

11-24-13…I’ve had to take drastic action for the cold weather. Bags of leaves hold up the tarp, tires hold it down.

12-26-13...These echium have definitely taken a hit from the sub freezing temps we've been experiencing for a couple of weeks.  I hope they make it.

12-26-13…These echium have definitely taken a hit from the sub freezing temps we’ve been experiencing for a couple of weeks. I hope they make it.

February 5, 2014...Five out of six have survived so far.  These sub freezing nights are NOT helping.  I cover them with blankets and a plastic tarp every night.

February 5, 2014…Five out of six have survived so far. These sub freezing nights are NOT helping. I cover them with blankets and a plastic tarp every night.

February 5, 2014...new growth means it's still alive!  More cold nights forecast so I've got to keep them protected.

February 5, 2014…new growth means it’s still alive! More cold nights forecast so I’ve got to keep them protected.

Feb. 5, 2014...These four echium are more slightly more protected.  They were put here as a back up (Plan Bee)

Feb. 5, 2014…These four echium in the backyard are slightly more protected. They were put here as a back up (Plan Bee).  I didn’t think it was a very good spot because of the shade, but they are doing the best of the bunch.

12-29-14...I shot these  back yard echium to show the progress they have made.  No blossoms in 2014 means they will blossom in 2015 (if they make it through the winter without frost damage.

12-29-14…I shot these backyard echium to show the progress they have made. No blossoms in 2014 means they will blossom in 2015 (if they make it through the winter without frost damage.)

March 9, 2015...Is this the year the echium will bloom?  I sure hope so.  It's putting on a spurt of growth.

March 9, 2015…Is this the year the echium will bloom? I sure hope so. It’s putting on a spurt of growth.

February 23, 2014...five echium still hanging on, barely.

February 23, 2014…five echium still hanging on, barely.

February 23, 2014...This poor echium plant suffered in the cold temps, but it's still showing signs of life.

February 23, 2014…This poor echium plant suffered in the cold temps, but it’s still showing signs of life.  Footnote…it didn’t make it.

June 16, 2014...Three echiums made it through the winter, but it looks like they are not going to bloom this year.  Sometimes it's the second year and sometimes it's the third year.  It looks like I'm going to have to wait a year.

June 16, 2014…Three echiums made it through the winter, but it looks like they are not going to bloom this year. Sometimes it’s the second year and sometimes it’s the third year. I guess I’m going to have to wait a year.  😦

12-29-14...There are still 3 echium plants going into winter, although one looks a little sick.  I wanted to shoot a photo before I covered them up with tarps prior to the big freeze this week.

12-29-14…There are still 3 echium plants going into winter, although one looks a little sick. I wanted to shoot a photo before I covered them up with tarps prior to the big freeze this week.

March 9...This echium also has been adding height.  I notice it most when I try to pull the tarp over the top to protect it from frost.

March 9…This echium has also been adding height.  I started noticing it when I tried to pull the tarp over the top to protect it from frost.  We haven’t seen any bud starts yet.

March 19...I just noticed the tallest echium (in the picture above) is starting to send out blossoms.  Hooray!

March 19…I just noticed the tallest echium (in the picture above) is starting to send out bud starts. Hooray!

July 14, 2015...In the spring, we enlarged this bed and planted some bee-loving plants along with the echium.

July 14, 2015…In the spring, we enlarged this bed and planted some bee-loving plants along with the Towers of Jewels echium plants shown in the background.

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Siberian Squill, that is.

“An excellent source of blue pollen,” says BBHB, who has graciously given me permission to use his photo of Siberian Squill.

Planting instructions according to Wisconsin Master Gardening Program:  Plant the small bulbs in the fall, placing them 2 to 3 inches deep and 2 to 4 inches apart.  Because of the ephemeral nature of the foliage, this small bulb can easily be grown in sunny lawns. To plant Siberian squill in turf, scatter the bulbs randomly in the area you want them. Then punch or auger a hole in the sod, using a dibble or other implement (some people suggest a cordless drill with a large bit), wherever a bulb has fallen. Place the bulb (pointed side up) at the bottom of the hole and fill in with additional soil. Wait until the bulb’s foliage has started to die down in spring before resuming mowing the lawn.

That sounds easy enough.  I’m planting them tomorrow.

One of the first spring-flowering bulbs, easy to grow, cold hardy,  blue pollen for the bees..what’s not to like?  It’s considered invasive.

Discussion about Siberian Squill on beesource.com  Why is it that so many of the plants that bees like are considered invasive???  I’m planting anyway because it’s an early food source, good for the bees,  can grow in my lawn, is deer resistant, and will go dormant by mid May.

The cordless drill worked well.  I planted 50 bulbs hoping it would be enough to get videos of bees carrying blue pollen in March.

November 9, 2013…The cordless drill worked well. I planted 50 bulbs of Siberian Squill hoping it would be enough to get videos of bees carrying blue pollen in March.  Snowdrops will be going in as soon as I can find a source.

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March 23, 2013...Lots of blossoms, hope the bees find them.

March 23, 2013…Lots of blossoms, hope the bees find them.

We’ve got plums!!!  Yes, we’ve had plums before, but not like this.  Our honey bees and Mason bees have contributed to the success…but now I’ve got to protect them.  I’ve also seen evidence of raccoons.  I won’t show the photo of raccoon scat, just trust me on this.  Raccoons can climb fences (in my case, deer cages that surround the trees.)  Last year we had counted about 40 to 50 plums almost ready to harvest, which disappeared overnight from raccoons climbing the wire deer proof cage.

6-1-13...Plums getting bigger.

6-1-13…Plums getting bigger…Hummm, I better start preparing raccoon protection.

I had noticed the sheet metal wrapped around Hal's plum tree every time we looked at his bee hives.  One day I asked about it.  "It's to prevent the raccoons from getting a foot hold on the plum tree."

I had noticed the sheet metal wrapped around Hal’s plum tree every time we looked at his bee hives. One day I asked about it. “It’s to prevent the raccoons from getting a foot hold on the plum tree.”

Hal's plum tree supports protected with sheet metal.

Even Hal’s plum tree supports are protected with sheet metal.

I removed the wire deer cage and bought a roll of sheet metal to prevent the raccoons from climbing the trunk. This little trick I learned from Hal.

I removed the wire deer cage and bought a roll of sheet metal to prevent the raccoons from climbing the trunk.  I figured if Hal had success with it, so would I.

June 3, 2013...After removing the wire cage (protection from deer) which served as a ladder for the raccoons last year, I wrapped sheet metal around the trunk to prevent the raccoons from climbing up.

July 7, 2013  These branches were starting to break  under the weight of all those plums.

I also copied Hal's method of holding up the branches.  Hope the can't climb 2x4's.

I  copied Hal’s method of holding up the branches.  These supports also serve to keep the branches higher off the ground so the raccoons can’t pull on them.  Hope they can’t climb 2×4’s. Footnote:   I traded the 2×4’s for 2×2’s the next day…I didn’t want to take any chances.

This young tree even has plums.  I didn't want to pull off the deer fence so I hung the sheet metal on it, hoping the height is up far enough that the raccoons can't climb it.  The plums are getting ripe so we'll soon find out.

Even this young tree has plums. I didn’t want to pull off the deer fence so I hung the sheet metal on it, hoping the height is up far enough that the raccoons can’t climb it. The plums are getting ripe so we’ll soon find out.

My sweetheart has enough plums for the first batch of plum jam.

July 19, 2013,,,My sweetheart has enough plums for the first batch of plum jam.  Carmen approves.

The deer help themselves to the dropped plums.  We're happy to share.

The deer help themselves to the dropped plums. We’re happy to share.

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We've got a good start, though some sunflower seedlings got chewed down by the slugs

6-3-13 We’ve got a good start, though some sunflower seedlings got chewed down by the slugs

Lots of self-seeded borage.  The bees like it, but I'm going to have to thin it.  I want the other plants to grow and I'm especially excited about the meadowfoam.

6-18-13 Lots of self-seeded borage. The bees like it, but I’m going to have to thin it. I want the other plants to grow and I’m especially excited about the meadowfoam which also is a self-seeding bee-loving flower.  The bee hives and the new bee flower garden are in the background.

My new motto is..."If the bees love it, leave it.

August 19, 2013…My new slogan is…”If the bees love it, leave it.”  The bees LOVE borage.  I let it grow in the Hugelkulture bed even though it’s not real pretty.  The pretty flower, Poached Egg Meadowfoam was also well liked by the bees, then the deer spotted it, now it’s gone.

Looking at the north side.   Clearly I should have listened to my wife when she warned me that squash wouldn't do very well the first year.

Looking at the north side. Clearly I should have listened to my wife when she warned me that squash wouldn’t do very well the first year.  In that regard, it’s a failure…but the main goal was to grow plants that the bees love.  Nasturtiums never made the list.  Don’t let anyone tell you they are deer proof.  They are not and I never saw a bee get close to one.  The borage self-seeded itself and the bees love it, so rather than pull it, I’ll just let it grow.  The bees will sip nectar until late in the evening, so in that regard, it’s a success.  We also added 3 echium ‘trees’, which seem to be doing well.  We hope they will all shoot up to be “Towers of Jewels.”

The beginning of this project…

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I just love standing on this bridge and seeing all the work Hal and Patti have done.  It's so beautiful.

I just love standing on this bridge and seeing all the work Hal and Patti have done. It’s so beautiful.

Hal called me up last week to say he took some video of a bee swarm flying INTO his unoccupied bee log.  I’m thinking “Well, that’s a first.  Whenever I see a swarm, they are flying OUT of something…like a hive.”  I had to see this.  While I was there I shot some photos of all the work they have done.  I draw inspiration every time I visit.  It was here that I learned about sedum and what a wonderful bee loving flower that is. There is so much color here, so many flowers.  It surely takes hard work and dedication to keep everything looking so good.

When I first saw all the bees sipping nectar on these sedum, I knew I wanted a bunch.  It's clear it's nectar they are after...I didn't see a speck of pollen in their pollen baskets.

When I first saw all the bees sipping nectar on these sedum, I knew I wanted a bunch. It’s clear it’s nectar they are after…I didn’t see a speck of pollen in their pollen baskets.  This photo was shot at Patti’s garden in September 2012

It didn't take long for the bees to set up home. They  swarmed INTO this log, April 18.

It didn’t take long for the bees to set up home. They swarmed INTO this log, April 18.

Patti's gunnera growing under the bridge

Patti’s gunnera is growing under the bridge

Hal and Patti on bridge, May 10, 2013

Hal and Patti on bridge, May 10, 2013

This video shows the swarm of bees moving INTO the  vacated log hive.  Hal explains what is going on as he shoots the video on his iPhone.

All this is natural comb, built in less than two months from when the bees swarmed INTO the log hive.

All this is natural comb, built in less than two months from when the bees swarmed INTO the log hive.

Hal’s first log hives

Hal talks about his log hive

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