The Sweat Bee is a Powerful Pollinator

A very large number of people know that there is a difference between bees and wasps. It is safe to say that most people probably know that honey comes from bees and not wasps. People also tend to know that bees are very important pollinators in the wild, gardens, orchards and commercial farms. However, when people think of bees, they normally only think of honey bees. This is very far from the only bee species and the sweat bee is a great example. Actually, there is a large number of species of sweat bees. These insects belong to the family called Halictidae and though there can be a lot of variation between species, they share the trait that they are strongly attracted to the various salts in human sweat, hence the common name. Like other bees, though, they will usually sting if they are angry or threatened. Still, the sting of sweat bees is usually much less painful than the sting of honey bees. While honey bees form large colonies or ‘hives’, sweat bees are much more varied. Some sweat bees do form colonies. Others are solitary, usually burrowing into the dirt. The farther north the sweat bee species is, the more likely it is to be solitary. ┬áSome produce honey, although usually not nearly in the amounts that honey bees produce, while others don’t produce honey. They can also differ a lot in appearance. Some species of sweat bees have a metallic sheen and can look more green and Continue Reading →

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Deer Resistant Herbs for the Garden

  In North America, one of the biggest problems that gardeners face every year is deer. Annually, deer destroy more garden plants than any other four-legged creature. There are deer resistant plants that can help to lessen the problem, but it needs to be understood that they aren’t really “deer-proof” plants. That should be a clear disclaimer. There is very little that is ‘proof’ from deer. For instance, having seen a deer jump an eight foot chain-link fence with very little effort, it is pretty clear to me that a deer-proof fence is either a matter of wishful thinking or extreme cost. Likewise, deer-proof garden plants are virtually a contradictory term. A hungry deer will eat nearly any plant, including cactus and plants that would be poisonous to humans. All that said, there are plants that deer don’t particularly like eating and a few that they find offensive, primarily because of the aroma, provided that they aren’t really hungry. Interestingly, there are several of these that are aromatic herbs that are commonly used for seasoning food or making tea. Here are a few. Oregano Deer don’t care for the flavor or aroma of this plant. The plant isn’t hard to grow, but it normally is low growing and not the best ground cover. Most people won’t grow enough of it to be a major deterrent for deer. Sage Garden sage is another plant that deer will usually bypass, if there are other plants growing nearby that they can eat. Sage Continue Reading →

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What Hay Bale Gardening is About

Have you ever heard of hay bale gardening? This is a great way to grow fruits and vegetables when you have soil that is of poor or depleated condition. Hay bale or straw bale gardening is an interesting and productive way to garden. It has benefits that more traditional gardening styles and methods lack and yet it can result in less effort than those other types of gardening. It is a good idea to get an overview of what bale gardening is about, prior to planting the garden, even when planting time is many months away. Many gardeners who try it love this gardening method so much that it becomes their preferred way to garden. What hay bale gardening is Using bales of hay or straw for planting or growing vegetables and other plants is easy to understand, though there can be variations. Bales of hay, such as standard 135 pound bales, are laid on their sides so that the twine or wire strands that holds the hay together are roughly parallel to the ground. Note that it isn’t absolutely necessary to have the twine parallel to the ground. These bales become the foundation in which to grow the garden plants. Benefits Bale gardening usually takes less initial effort since the plants are grown directly in the bale. The method is also easier from the standpoint of weeding and maintenance, since a gardener can sit on a stool, chair or bench to do most of the work. Both hay and Continue Reading →

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