Benefits of Wasps in and around Gardens

  Many people have rather painful memories of wasps. They can bite from the front end and repeatedly sting from the other, since most don’t lose the stinger when they use it. People acquainted with yellow-jackets have probably been subjected to the reminder that wasps are often best left alone. For the home gardener, though, wasps can be a great insect to have around the garden. Bees and wasps Though bees and wasps are similar, they aren’t the same creature. The coloring can be much alike, but they are still not the same. Most species of each do tend to have hives of one sort or another. The number of individuals in the hives of either can be large. Some wasps and bees are solitary and don’t produce large hives or colonies. Still, the point is that wasps aren’t the same as bees. They are different insects. Pollination When people think of flower or plant pollination, they often think of bees. Indeed, bees are important pollinators, spreading pollen particles from one flower to another. What some gardeners might find interesting is that wasps often also pollinate flowers. They may not be as proficient at producing honey, however pollen and nectar are rich energy sources and many species of wasps take advantage of it. In areas where there aren’t many bees, wasps may even do the majority of the needed pollination. Predatory habits A great number of wasp species are predatory, particularly on invertebrates like insects and spiders. They tend to be Continue Reading →


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About growing blueberry bushes in your yard

There are few fruits that are as packed with anti-oxidants than blueberries. They are also quite delicious. Fresh blueberries are also tastier and better for you than frozen ones, though the same could be said about most fruits. They aren’t particularly hard to grow, but the conditions need to be right and it can be a bit of a trick to make those conditions right. Blueberries are bushes that grow best in climates that have cold winters, because the plants require a period of dormancy each year. While there are a number of different cultivars, there are also two main types of blueberries: Low bush and high bush. As the name implies, low bush blueberries don’t get very tall, usually less than three and a half feet. High bush blueberry bushes can grow five to seven feet tall and occasionally taller. The first consideration before growing blueberries is to decide which type is going to be grown. Regardless of which is chosen, plenty of space will be needed for the plants. Additionally, though they do require winter temperatures that are cold enough to allow them to become dormant, blueberries are also sun-loving plants. They can tolerate some shade, particularly in the afternoon when the sunshine tends to be the most intense, but they do need lots of sunshine. Perhaps the hardest part of growing blueberries is that they thrive in very sour soil that has a pH that is low enough to kill most garden plants. Most fruit trees and Continue Reading →


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Successfully Growing Rhubarb Plants

In both the Oregon Cascades and the Montana Rocky mountains, two plants that are among the first to start vigorously growing in the United States are strawberries and rhubarb. Both are extremely hardy perennials that seem to breeze right through even bitter cold temperatures. In fact, most of the rhubarb produced in the US comes from Oregon, Washington, Montana, Colorado and Michigan. It seems appropriate somehow that strawberries and rhubarb combine so well in strawberry-rhubarb pie. Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is quite easy to grow. That said, it should also be mentioned that rhubarb can’t survive anywhere that doesn’t get cold enough for the plant to become dormant. For the plant to do this, the daytime high temperatures in the winter need to be 40 F or less for at least several weeks. Most of the growth is also when the temperatures are below 70 F. Thus, it is a plant that is most at home in places that have a harsh winter and a cool spring. The rhubarb plant doesn’t do very well when the temperatures become very hot. In part, this is because the leaves are very large and when it is hot, they release a great amount of water in a process called transpiration. When the temperatures are such that more water is transpired than the amount taken in by the roots, the leaves begin to wilt. In fact, this is the cause of wilting leaves for virtually all plants and it is the reason squash and pumpkin leaves Continue Reading →


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How to Tame a Wild Bobcat

Everywhere I’ve lived, there have been bobcats living near home. They are common, though not seen all that often. I’ve also written about them before. Bobcats are totally gorgeous felines. Their fur is usually tawny to grayish in color, with spots or elongated markings, and in the wild, this cat often grows double the size of a very large house cat. It should never be forgotten that they are wild animals. However, there are ways to tame bobcats. Bobcat age One of the top considerations is how old the bobcat is. Even young ones that are only a month and a half old are likely to scratch and hiss at first and their claws and teeth are quite sharp. The older they become, the harder it becomes to tame them. Even older animals can be tamed, though, with enough patience. Bobcats require the same basic things that any feline would need. Physically, those needs are something to eat and drink, and shelter. It goes well beyond that, naturally. Like most other kittens, as they grow, they need attention and love. There are many people who believe that love is a human emotion and that we are simply imagining its importance for animals. They obviously haven’t observed cats very closely if they believe this. Mother cats, bobcats included, lavish attention on the young. The attention and love is almost constant as long as the kitten is growing up. Love and attention is a key for taming bobcats of any age. The Continue Reading →


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Growing Anise Sage in Flowerbeds and Gardens

Anise sage (Salvia guaranitica) is a plant that has a profusion of beautiful dark blue flowers that are rather tube shaped and can be over an inch long. The plant tends to be bushy and in good conditions it can grow up to five feet tall, though it can be trimmed to a shorter height. Although it is related to garden sage (Salvia officinalis), which is used to flavor foods, anise sage is normally grown as an ornamental. When the leaves are bruised, they have a mild anise scent. The flowers also carry the anise aroma. This species of salvia is native to tropical South America, including much of Brazil. It is sometimes called hummingbird sage or blue sage. Although the plant is a perennial, in most places in the north it is grown as an annual because it isn’t cold hardy. It is, however, highly attractive to hummingbirds, honey bees and butterflies. This plant like full sunshine, though it will tolerate a small amount of shade. It will grow in most soils that drain well and the plant also grows well in regular potting soil, in pots. It grows in soil that is slightly acidic to slightly alkaline. The plant is quite tolerant of heat as long as it gets enough water; roughly one to two inches of water per week during the heat of summer, so that the soil is moistened well during growing season. If the plants are in pots, they may require more water than this, Continue Reading →


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Viola – A Great Plant to Grow

There are close to 600 species of violas and these are one of the top selling bedding plants in the United States every year. Often, they are sold by various common names, such as pansies or violets, but these are still violas. The flowers aren’t only deep violet blue, purple and light blue, either. Some species produce white, yellow, orange and red flowers. Many, particularly the pansies, have flowers that contain multiple colors. They are colorful and good bedding plants, seldom getting more than a half-foot tall, but they are also hardy. Most violas grow in the colder regions of the world. Some of these are perennial and come up year after year. Others produce a prolific number of seeds and reseed themselves. Violas also take well to growing in pots and containers, so people who don’t have room for flowerbeds can still enjoy these plants. Violas love having plenty of sunshine, but they can struggle a bit in the heat of the summer. Having some shade in the hottest part of the day is a good idea. They grow best in rich soil that drains well. The soil should be kept damp but not wet.If the soil has too much clay, sphagnum moss or finished compost should be added to the dirt so it drains well. This helps to prevent the roots from sitting in water when the plant is watered. If the dirt is too wet or doesn’t drain well, the roots can rot and the plants can Continue Reading →


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About the Northern Pike Fish

One of the most sought after game fish, because of its ferocity and flavor, is the pike. It is also known as a northern pike, jackfish or northern. This is a highly predatory fresh water fish that can get quite large. It lives in the north, so many people may not know much about this game fish. Pike (Esox lucius) are found in the northern United States, Canada, the UK, northern Europe, Russia and Asia. It inhabits rivers and lakes. Pike size This fish grows large. The average length is just a little less than four feet and it can grow as long as five feet long. The world record pike caught by tackle came out of a lake in Germany in 1986, weighing 55 pounds, though there are records of a pike caught in Ireland that weighed 93 pounds. The fish that was caught in Ireland was caught in nets, rather than on fishing tackle. The state record for pike caught in Montana is almost four feet long and 40 pounds. Pike appearance The pike looks similar to a muskellunge or musky, which is a related fish. They have a long, powerful body, with the dorsal fin locate far back near the caudal fin. The head is long and tapered, with the bottom jaw being longer than the top. The powerful mouth is equipped with multiple rows of sharp teeth, rather like some sharks. The color is usually dark green, with spots. Pike behavior A pike is both a very Continue Reading →


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Forests Don’t Need to Disappear

We often hear about how the Amazon rain forests are being decimated. They are cut and burned to make way for agricultural crops, though the soil is thin and poor. It is easy to start getting the impression that the forests around the world are dwindling, though the Amazon isn’t close to being the only forest in the world. The truth is actually a little different from what most people are led to believe. There are places where forests have indeed been destroyed. For instance, the area that is now Iran and Iraq was once a place dominated by vast forests. Most of the forests have been destroyed now, leaving the land to be taken over by desert. Without the trees, the land has also become salty, due to irrigation practices, and in some areas they can’t even grow rye anymore. Rye is one of the hardiest grains known to man. With some knowledge, effort and time, the land where forests are gone can be reforested, though. Israel has and is doing exactly that. They are a world leader in reclaiming land that was once barren and waste. Their techniques are innovative and they work. The number of trees and the amount of food crops the Israelis produce is phenomenal. The land has been reclaimed, the salt has been removed and fruit trees and other crops are grown in places where very little would grow, only one or two hundred years ago. It isn’t fair to say that the forests Continue Reading →


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