Controversy over Colony Collapse continues

Tue. Feb. 4, 2014
Honey bees
Honey bees

Do an internet search for Bee decline, also called Colony Collapse, and you’ll get almost 2 million hits.  Wikipedia says this phenomenon has been going on since 1972.  Greenpeace says since the 1990’s beekeepers have seen a serious decline.  And it’s not just the United States, but Europe too.

Pathogenic plant virus jumps to honeybees“; that’s the headline in Science Daily, click on the headline for the full story.

There are likely several factors involved in bee decline.  I’ll let that debate continue with  … [Continue reading]

Groundhog day 2014

Mon. Feb. 3, 2014

Well, here he is, the rodent responsible for Spring!

Punxatawney Phil

Or winter as the case may be…  So Punxsutawney Phil says 6 more weeks of winter.  I’m okay with that here in Minnesota.  I just wish it would be ONLY 6 more weeks.  When you have darn near a foot of snow in one snowfall in May, well, you’re hopeful for anything less than that!

Check out the Farmer’s Almanac and you’ll get fashion trends too!  Think denim.

NOAA says much without saying anything at all.

And Accuweather?  Well,  … [Continue reading]

Yellow says spring

Fri. Jan. 31, 2014

After these brutal temps, I thought I might remind all of us that Spring will, at some point, arrive in Minnesota!  Hold on to that thought and go to your happy place when the brutal winds blow!

Forsythia is really a harbinger of spring.  They’re a great shrub but do have some drawbacks.  If left unpruned they can become a dense thicket and look unruly.  Their flower buds can freeze before you get the glow of their pretty yellow color.  I still love them!

There’s another option, however.  It’s  … [Continue reading]

Free fertilizer and monitoring outdoor plants

Thu. Jan. 30, 2014

It’s a good idea to monitor your outdoor plants, particularly those 3 years and younger, at this time to see if the critters have been nibbling.  If they have, you need to get some hardware cloth or chicken wire and surround them.

Hardware cloth comes in a variety of sizes, you’re best to buy one with small mesh.  Now on to Public Enemy Number ONE…  maybe….

Turns out, rabbit poop is really good for the garden…  just not your shrubs!  Those little brown pellets are a bonanza for your  … [Continue reading]

Portable compost bin

Wed. Jan. 29, 2014

Trudging out to the compost pile in sub zero weather is hardly appealing!   Why not make a portable compost bin and use it all year long.  You can park it next to your recycling bin during the winter and then roll it around with you during the growing season to your gardens.

Portable compost bin with dimensionsPortable compost bin drawing

portable compost drawing

Use a 1 inch paddle bit to drill the holes.  Start the holes about 18 inches down from the top and the rows are about 3 1/2 inches apart.  Each hole is about 3  … [Continue reading]

Kale is King

Tue. Jan. 28, 2014

All hail the King!

Kale reigns supreme when it comes to nutrition packed veggies and ease of growing.  Full nutritional information is here!

Kale is a cool season vegetable so you can plant it BEFORE the last frost date and again in late summer for a Fall crop.  You can pick it’s leaves at will.

Kale types of

The above Kale “Winterbor’ is highly recommended for our climate here in Minnesota.  The following Kale also adds ornamental value, ‘Nero di Toscana’.

Vegetable garden cost comparison

Mon. Jan. 27, 2014

Someone asked me if you really save money planting your own vegetable garden.  That depends.  Things to consider:

  • how much effort will you put into creating your garden
  • how much you spend on seeds and/or plants
  • are you buying soil?  amendments?  fertilizer?
  • your time spent watering, weeding and harvesting
  • will you be building a raised bed
  • do you need to buy equipment

Your first garden will always cost more but as I noted in my radio show, the upfront cost, especially if building a raised bed, will be worth  … [Continue reading]

Minnesota grapes

Fri. Jan. 24, 2014

The headline reads “Local grape growers brace for damage”.   While the University of Minnesota has come up with some incredible grapes hardy to our harsh winters, still, last year was pretty brutal.  Grapes such as ‘Frontenac’, ‘Marquette’ and ‘La Crescent’ are supposed to be hardy to 30 below, however, that doesn’t mean that they won’t suffer damage.   Click on the names of the grapes for detailed information from the University of Minnesota.

Grape - frontenac

Grape - marquette

Grape - la crescent

University Enology Project manager Katie Cook says the timing of the seriously low  … [Continue reading]

Enabling gardens

Thu. Jan. 23, 2014

There’s no better stress reliever than to play in the dirt!  I have often taken for granted my ability to move through my gardens easily.  Oh maybe my knees give me a little trouble now and then, but I can bend down and pluck a weed or snip a flower with ease.  Other gardeners can’t.

Gene Rothert, the author of The Enabling Garden, is the Director Emeritus at the Chicago Botanic Garden and his book is a fantastic resource for those looking to make gardening easier for themselves or  … [Continue reading]

Garden resolutions

Wed. Jan. 22, 2014

We’re into the 3rd full  week of January and by now most of us have already recanted those silly resolutions we made in week one!  😉  The Snickers bar wouldn’t stop calling my name!

You already know how I feel about garden journals, that was the number one resolution I suggest.  However, there are a few more, should you care to resolve!

  • Right plant, Right place.  The master gardener mantra.  Resolve to plant only those cultivars hardy to your zone – unless you’re willing to take a risk.  And
 … [Continue reading]