Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Where Have All the Bees Gone?

Bees are disappearing from hives and from the landcscape in general. The dramatic decrease in the bee population is expected to have an negative impact on agriculture. Remember most plants need a pollinator in order to produce fruit or vegetables. Bees do a large portion of this work.

This story appeared in the Daily Telegraph recently.
Fears For Crops as Bees Vanish

Check out my squidoo lens on Orchard Mason Bees. I am trying to attract more bees to my garden. These little guys are hard working pollinators. It is just about time for the Mason bees to emerge from the house, mate, and produce larvae for next year's bee population.

Bees may be like the canary in the coalmine. It is important to find out why they are disappearing and to figure out how to stop them from diappearing. We need the bees. They are an integral part of a sustainable garden.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Seeds and Snow

The seeds for this season's garden arrived today, and so did snow. Well, it's not really snow, or at least snow that sticks. It's mostly big soggy flakes that melt as soon as they hit the ground. It isn't bitterly cold so maybe there will be achance to plant some seeds this weekend.

The snow is jsut a reminder that maybe it is still a little too early to get carried away planting. But the few warm days we have had in the past few weeks have deifinitely lit the fire.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sprouts, the Easy Indoor Garden

When I'm not gardening outdoors, or even when I am, I can always garden indoors, in a sprouting jar. I grow sprouts for sandwiches and salads. You can sprout all kinds of beans and seeds and nuts.

Sprouting is so easy and sprouts are soooooo good for you. Sprouts are living food. Sprouts have all the concentrated nutrients that the seeds uses to grow into a plant. Sprouts contain proteins, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.

You might not want to switch to an all raw food diet, but adding sprouts to your diet is a great way to add raw foods with all the benefits they bring.

Here is my favorite source for sprouting seeds and accessories.
Sprout People

Monday, February 19, 2007

Companion Planting

Planning which plants will be neighbors this season.

The weather has turned cold again and a little too wet for planting, even though I am itching to get started. So I am planting on paper instead, and using lot of eraser. Some plants help each other and should be planted in close proximity. Others are not good neighbors and you should try to keep them apart.

Which plants are good companions? Here's a quick reference from the folks at GardenGuides.com

Companion Planting

Monday, February 12, 2007

This is what I'm talking about.

Check out this video I stumbled across.
Garden Girl's Urban Sustainable Living

Here is her website where you can find out more about this "Martha Stewart" for the future.
Go Garden Girl!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Seed Swap

Last night we got together with my brother and sister in law. She's an avid gardener and suggested that we get our seeds together and share with each other before we place our orders for new seeds.

This is a great idea because most seed packets give you way more seeds than you can use in a year or 2 and after that the germination rates may decline, so the seeds you have may not all sprout.

I scored corn (Peaches and Cream), swiss chard (Bright Lights), sunflowers ( Red Sun and Infrared Mix), Zucchini (Romulus), and lovage. I shared some of my tri-color beets, edible pea pods and soybeans (Black Pearl) with her. We still managed to circle about 10-12 items from the Territorial seed catalog that we could live without.

Territorial Seeds

Territorial Seed sells seeds for varieties specifically chosen and tested for the Pacific Northwest. Their seeds would probably grow fine in other climates, but if you have the choice to buy seeds from a local company in your area, that tests and chooses based on your specific conditions, I would recommend that you do so.

We both plan to buy plants already started for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. These vegetables can be safely planted in May. I can't believe we have so long to wait. I'll just have to make do with some early spring lettuces, kale, chard, beets, etc.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Too Early for Garden Fever

When the sun is shining and the mailbox is full of seed catalogs it's hard to resist a mild case of garden fever. Even here in Portland we still have more winter to look forward to, but it's been sunny for days now and I'm planning to work in the yard this weekend.

Tomorrow is Groundhog Day so we will wait for the Oracle of Punxsutawney devine whether we will have an early spring or not. I'm pretty sure I will be tempted to put some poor plants out too early. But I'm also certain that I will have some plants from last summer still alive and still producing. Thus I can claim "crop overlap". In my first year on this new farm, to have something growing year, is a feat I am not too humble to proud of.

Of course, what I have growing currently is a shadow of the summer cropload. Most of the arugula, except fro the stuff on the south side of the house succumbed to the frosts. I can still rustle up enough for a small, coarse salad every few days. But the kale and the stunted beets are povided feedstock for the juicer. Rosemary is fine and robust, although that's kind of a gimme, as is the lavender. Survival of the oregano was a surprise, it actually looks pretty good. And the parsley suffered a little due to the frost, but is already showing signs of new life.