Marla Spivak: Why bees are disappearing

 

 

 

FILMED JUN 2013 • POSTED SEP 2013 • TEDGlobal 2013

Bees pollinate a third of our food supply — they don’t just make honey! — but colonies have been disappearing at alarming rates in many parts of the world due to the accumulated effects of parasitic mites, viral and bacterial diseases, and exposure to pesticides and herbicides. Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota professor of entomology and 2010 MacArthur Fellow, tries as much as possible to think like bees in her work to protect them. They’re “highly social and complex” creatures, she says, which fuels her interest and her research.

Spivak has developed a strain of bees, the Minnesota Hygienic line, that can detect when pupae are infected and kick them out of the nest, saving the rest of the hive. Now, Spivak is studying how bees collect propolis, or tree resins, in their hives to keep out dirt and microbes. She is also analyzing how flowers’ decline due to herbicides, pesticides and crop monoculture affect bees’ numbers and diversity. Spivak has been stung by thousands of bees in the course of her work.

 

View PDF’s that have lists of local native plants that are friendly for honey bees

Feedthebees.org

Pugetsoundbees.org

 

 

From Xerces.org PDFClick image to view PDF

From Xerces.org
Click image to view PDF

Six Steps to a Beautiful Landscape Next Season

 

Shredding fall leaves with a mower and spreading a layer over the soil in the garden will conserve moisture and insulate the roots of perennial plants.Photo/Melinda Myers, LLC

Shredding fall leaves with a mower and spreading a layer over the soil in the garden will conserve moisture and insulate the roots of perennial plants.
Photo/Melinda Myers, LLC

By gardening expert Melinda Myers

Don’t let a busy schedule stop you from creating a beautiful landscape. Incorporate a few of these changes in your fall landscape care. You’ll create beautiful results with a limited investment of time and effort.
  • Cut the grass, recycle fall leaves, and improve the soil with a pass of the lawn mower.   Shred leaves and leave them on the lawn as you mow this fall.  As long as you can see the grass through the leaf pieces, the lawn will be fine. As the leaves break down they add organic matter to the soil, improving drainage in clay soil and water holding ability in sandy soils.

    Or, as an alternative, use excess leaves as a soil mulch. Shred the leaves with your mower and spread a layer over the soil to conserve moisture and insulate the roots of perennials. Fall mulching gives you a jump on next spring’s landscape chores.

  • Improve your lawn’s health by fertilizing this fall with a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, like Milorganite. You’ll reduce the risk of disease problems and with slower weed growth in fall, your lawn, not the weeds, will benefit from the nutrients.  Fall fertilization also helps lawns recover from the stresses of summer by encouraging deep roots and denser growth that can better compete with weeds and tolerate disease and insects.

    Northern gardeners can follow the holiday schedule and fertilize Labor Day and Halloween.  Southern gardeners should make their last fall fertilization at least 30 days before the lawn goes dormant or the average first killing frost to avoid winter kill.

  • Do a bit of planting.  Cool season annuals brighten up the fall garden and, for those in warmer regions, the winter garden.  Consider adding cold hardy pansies. They provide color in the fall garden, survive most winters, and are back blooming in the spring just as the snow melts.

    Fall is also a good time to plant perennials, trees and shrubs. The soil is warm and the air cooler, so the plants are less stressed and establish more quickly. Select plants suited to the growing conditions and be sure to give them plenty of room to reach their mature size.

  • Plant daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and other bulbs in fall for extra color next spring.  Set the bulbs at a depth of two to three times their height deep.   Then cover them with soil and sprinkle on a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer.  This type of fertilizer promotes rooting without stimulating fall growth subject to winter kill.

    Base your bulb planting time on the weather not the calendar.  Start planting after the night-time temperatures hover between 40 and 50 degrees.  Be patient, waiting until the soil cools reduces the risk of early sprouting that often occurs during a warm fall.

    Those gardening in the far south and along the gulf coast can purchase pre-cooled bulbs to compensate for the warm winters.  Or the chilling can be done at home by storing the bulbs in a 35 to 45 degree location for at least 14 weeks before planting.

  • Leave healthy perennials stand for winter. This increases hardiness and adds beauty to the winter landscape with their seed heads, dried foliage and the birds they attract. Plus, it will delay cleanup until spring when gardeners are anxious to get outdoors and start gardening.

    However, be sure to remove any diseased or insect-infested plants to reduce the source of pest problems in next year’s garden.

  • Start composting or add shredded leaves and other plant debris to an existing compost pile.  Combine fall leaves with other plant waste, a bit of soil or compost, and sprinkle with fertilizer to create compost.  Recycling yard waste saves time bagging, hauling and disposing of green debris.  You also reduce or eliminate the need to buy soil amendments to improve your existing garden soil.
Incorporate one or all six of these practices to increase the health and beauty of your landscape now and for years to come.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos and tips.

Tulalip clinic dispensing gardening advice for better diets

Tulalip clinic gets patients growing veggies, herbs

Mark Mulligan / The HeraldSandy Swanson, a licensed practical nurse at the Tulalip Health Clinic, waters plants in the new garden outside of the clinic on June 16. Swanson works in the elder care program, and when she gets a chance will duck outside to work in the garden. "It makes me smile to come out here and care for these plants," said Swanson.

Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Sandy Swanson, a licensed practical nurse at the Tulalip Health Clinic, waters plants in the new garden outside of the clinic on June 16. Swanson works in the elder care program, and when she gets a chance will duck outside to work in the garden. “It makes me smile to come out here and care for these plants,” said Swanson.

By Bill Sheets, The Herald

TULALIP — When a doctor at the Tulalip tribal health clinic advises a patient to eat healthier food, it doesn’t have to be only words that are heard or written down on paper.

The doctor can take the patient right outside the building and show them that they can grow that food for themselves.

A small, rudimentary vegetable garden at the Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic was greatly expanded this year with several new raised wooden beds. Leeks, kale, squash, cucumbers, peas, tomatoes and more are thriving in their southwestern exposure to the summer sun over Tulalip Bay.

Culinary and medicinal herbs and plants are being grown as well — parsley, tarragon, basil, lavender and rose hips, to name a few.

“It’s about engaging with our patients,” said Bryan Cooper, clinical lead at the health center. “Instead of telling them what to do, it’s ‘Let’s work together.'”

The incidence of diabetes on the reservation is high, and the garden is especially geared toward helping diabetics manage their condition through their diet.

Doctors and staff members from the lab and pharmacy have been accompanying patients to the garden to discuss the possibilities, said Roni Leahy, diabetes coordinator at the clinic.

Planting soil, tubs, gardening materials and advice have been dispensed on special-event days at the clinic, such as a recent “Diabetes Day.”

The garden is an extension of a program established two years ago with the opening of the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve a few miles away, Cooper said.

In one program there, young people have been taught traditional ways of harvesting and processing native medicinal plants. In another, titled “Gardening Together as Families,” a popular community vegetable garden was established.

At the clinic, the idea was to build on the success of the Hibulb programs and create a direct link between the medical facility and healthy diets, staff members said.

The late Hank Gobin, the tribes’ cultural director who helped establish the Hibulb programs, was motivated to improve tribal members’ diets in part because he himself was a diabetic. He passed away in April at age 71.

“It’s always about people and their health and well-being,” Leahy said. “That’s how we keep his memory alive.”

The clinic garden has been maintained by staff members and volunteers. At the end of the season, the food will be used at tribal events, Leahy said.

Sandra Swanson, 73, a career nurse, works full time in the clinic’s elder care program.

“Then I come out here and play,” she said, as she dug in one of the planters.

The plan is to expand the garden next year to a nearby slope facing the bay, with terraces and a trail, Cooper said.

More volunteers are needed, staff members said.

“We want to start these (gardens) and get them to a place where the community takes over,” Cooper said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

Health fair

A health fair and blood drive is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, 7520 Totem Beach Road.

For more information call 360-716-4511.

Diabetes garden plant give away

Didi Garlow, Master Gardener helps fill planters to take home.Photo by Monica Brown

Didi Garlow, Master Gardener  at the Diabetes Garden helps fill planters to take home.
Photo by Monica Brown

By Monica Brown, Tulalip News Writer
TULALIP, WA – The Diabetes Garden at the Karen I Fryberg Health clinic gave away, to their attendees, planter boxes with plants. The Diabetes Garden is a place where patients and community members can come to learn more about plant and garden care for a healthier future.

Community members and patients were invited to come out and fill a planter box to bring home so they can start a small garden. The planter boxes were filled with an assortment of vegetable, herb and flower plants and each person was given a fresh bag of soil to bring home.

This garden event will run until 1:00 pm Tuesday, July 16. But will continue during future, to be announced, garden and health clinic events.

Roni Leahy on right, sorts out plants to take homePhoto by Monica Brown

Master Gardener, Roni Leahy on right, sorts out plants to take home
Photo by Monica Brown

Planter boxes, plants and soil were given to each person.Photo by Monica Brown

Planter boxes, plants and soil were given to each person.
Photo by Monica Brown

 

Maximize and Extend the Beauty of Roses with Proper Care

By Melinda Myers

Although June is national rose month, gardeners can keep their roses healthy and blooming all summer long.  Through proper care and a few simple strategies both existing and new roses can continue to look their best throughout the summer months – maximizing their beauty and enjoyment for all.

Water thoroughly whenever the top few inches of soil are crumbly and moist. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation to apply the water directly to the soil where it is needed. You’ll lose less water to evaporation and reduce the risk of disease by avoiding overhead irrigation.

Mulch the soil surface with shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic matter to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and improve the soil as they decompose.

Keep your plants blooming and looking their best in spite of the heat, humidity and pests of summer. Immunize your plants against common environmental stresses such as heat and drought, while building their defenses against insects and diseases natural defenses with an organic plant strengthener, such as JAZ™ Rose Spray (www.gardeners.com).   Researchers discovered when some plants are stressed they produce hundreds of molecules that help them better tolerate environmental stresses as well as insect and disease attacks. When applied to plants in the form of a plant strengthener, the treated plants improve their own defenses, much like immunizations do for us.  Gardeners will notice less damage from stress, better recovery, reduced yellow leaves, and healthier plants overall.

Proper fertilization will help keep roses healthy and producing lots of flowers. A soil test is the best way to determine how much and what type of fertilizer is best for roses growing in your landscape.

Check your plants throughout the season for signs of insects and disease. Early detection makes control easier. Remove insects or infested plant parts when discovered. Look for the most eco-friendly control options when intervention is needed.

Enjoy your efforts and improve your roses appearance by harvesting a few rosebuds for indoor enjoyment. Prune flowering stems back to the first 5-leaflet leaf. You can prune back farther on established plants, but be sure to always leave at least two 5-leaflet leaves behind on the plant’s stem.

Those gardening in cold climates should stop deadheading roses toward the end of the season.  Allow the plants to develop rose hips.  This helps the plants prepare for the cold weather ahead and increases hardiness.  Plus, these red to orange fruits provide winter food for birds as well as attractive winter interest in the garden.

And if you don’t have roses, make this the summer you add one or more of these beauties to your landscape.

 

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author and columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening.  She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site is www.melindamyers.com.

Protecting Your Landscape from Wildlife Damage

By Melinda Myers

They’re cute, they’re furry and they love to eat – your landscape that is.  If you are battling with rabbits, deer, groundhogs or other wildlife, don’t give up.  And if you are lucky enough to be wildlife-free at the moment, be vigilant and prepared to prevent damage before these beautiful creatures move into your landscape to dine.

Anyone who has battled wildlife knows the frustration and difficulty involved in controlling them.  Your best defense is a fence.  A four foot high fence anchored tightly to the ground will keep out rabbits.   Five foot high fences around small garden areas will usually keep out deer.  They seem to avoid these small confined spaces.  The larger the area the more likely deer will enter. Woodchucks are more difficult.  They will dig under or climb over the fence.  You must place the fence at least 12″ below the soil surface with 4 to 5 feet above the ground.  Make sure gates are also secured from animals.

Some communities allow electric fences that provide a slight shock to help keep deer out of the landscape.  Another option is the wireless deer fence.  The system uses plastic posts with wire tips charged by AA batteries.  The plastic tip is filled with a deer attractant.  When the deer nuzzles the tip it gets a light shock, encouraging it to move on to other feeding grounds.

Scare tactics have been used for many years.  Motion sensitive sprinklers, blow up owls, clanging pans and rubber snakes strategically placed around a garden may help scare away unwanted critters.   Unfortunately urban animals are used to noise and may not be alarmed.  Move and alternate the various scare tactics for more effective control.  The animals won’t be afraid of an owl that hasn’t moved in two weeks.

Homemade and commercial repellents can also be used. Make sure they are safe to use on food crops if treating fruits and vegetables.   You’ll have the best results if applied before the animals start feeding.  It is easier to prevent damage than break old feeding patterns.  Look for natural products like those found in Messina Wildlife’s Animal Stopper line.  They are made of herbs and smell good, so they repel animals without repelling you and your guests.

Live trapping can be inhumane and should be a last option.  Babies can be separated from their parents, animals can be released in unfamiliar territory, and trapped animals can suffer from heat and a lack of food and water.  Plus, once you catch the animal, you need to find a place to release it.  The nearby parks, farms and forests already have too many of their own animals and therefore they don’t want yours.

The key to success is variety, persistence, and adaptability.  Watch for animal tracks, droppings and other signs that indicate wildlife have moved into your area.  Apply repellents and install scare tactics and fencing before the animals begin feeding. Try a combination of tactics, continually monitor for damage and make changes as needed.  And when you feel discouraged, remember that gardeners have been battling animals in the garden long before us.

 

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, features gardening videos, gardening tips, podcasts, and more.    

 

Garden Revival

 

snip n drip photo

By Melinda Myers

Spring floods, summer droughts and temperature extremes take their toll on gardens and the gardeners who tend them. Help your gardens recover from the crazy temperature and moisture extremes that seem to occur each year.

Start by assessing the current condition of your landscape.  Remove dead plants as soon as possible.  They can harbor insect and disease organisms that can infest your healthy plantings.  Consider replacing struggling plants with healthy plants better suited to the space, growing conditions and landscape design.  You often achieve better results in less time by starting over rather than trying to nurse a sick plant back to health.

As always, select plants suited to the growing environment and that includes normal rainfall.  Every season is different, but selecting plants suited to the average conditions will minimize the care needed and increase your odds for success.  Roses, coneflowers, sedums and zinnias are just a few drought tolerant plants.  Elderberry, ligularia, Siberian iris and marsh marigold are a few moisture tolerant plants.

Be prepared for worse case scenario.  Install an irrigation system, such as the Snip-n-drip soaker system, in the garden.  It allows you to apply water directly to the soil alongside plants.  This means less water wasted to evaporation, wind and overhead watering.  You’ll also reduce the risk of disease by keeping water off the plant leaves.

A properly installed and managed irrigation system will help save water.  The convenience makes it easy to water thoroughly, encouraging deep roots, and only when needed.  Turn the system on early in the day while you tend to other gardening and household chores.  You’ll waste less water to evaporation and save time since the system does the watering for you.

Capture rainwater and use it to water container and in-ground gardens.  Rain barrels and cisterns have long been used for this purpose and are experiencing renewed interest. Look for these features when buying or making your own rain barrel. Make sure the spigot is located close to the bottom so less water collects and stagnates. Select one that has a screen over the opening to keep out debris.  And look for an overflow that directs the water into another barrel or away from the house.

Add a bit of paint to turn your rain barrel into a piece of art.  Or tuck it behind some containers, shrubs or a decorative trellis.  Just make sure it is easy to access.

Be sure to mulch trees and shrubs with shredded bark or woodchips to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and reduce competition from nearby grass.  You’ll eliminate hand trimming while protecting trunks and stems from damaging weed whips and mowers.

Invigorate weather worn perennials with compost and an auger bit.  Spread an inch of compost over the soil surface.  Then use an auger bit, often used for planting bulbs, and drill the compost into the soil in open areas throughout the garden.  You’ll help move the compost to the root zone of the plants and aerate the soil with this one activity.

A little advance planning and preparation can reduce your workload and increase your gardening enjoyment.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers web site is www.melindamyers.com

 

Maximize Your Harvest This Season Despite Limited Time, Space and Energy

Cucumber-7.11by gardening expert Melinda Myers

Increase your garden’s productivity even when space, time and energy are limited.  Just follow these six simple planting, maintenance and harvesting techniques for a more bountiful harvest.

Maximize your planting space with wide rows.  Leave just enough room for plants to reach their maximum size.  Make wide rows, 4 to 5 feet wide, so you can reach all plants for maintenance and harvest.  Minimizing walkways means more planting space.

Try interplanting.  Grow short season crops like lettuce and radishes between long season crops like cabbage, tomatoes and peppers.  The short season crops will be ready to harvest when the long season crops are reaching mature size.  You’ll double your harvest and grow more vegetables, not weeds between your longer season plants.

Grow more plants per row with succession planting.  Start the season with cool season vegetables like lettuce and spinach. Once these are harvested and temperatures warm replace with beans and onions.  Harvest these and plant a fall crop of radishes or lettuce.

When you use these intensive planting techniques, be sure to incorporate a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, like Milorganite, at the start of the season.  Then add a mid-season nutrient boost if needed. The slow release nitrogen won’t burn even during the hot dry weather of summer. Plus, it won’t interfere with flowering or fruiting.

Go vertical.  Train vine crops up decorative or functional trellises and supports.   You’ll not only save space, but you will also reduce disease problems and increase the harvest.  Growing cucumbers and melons increase light penetration and air flow, reducing the risk of fungal diseases.  Pole beans are much easier to harvest and produce an additional picking.  Secure large fruited vegetables like melons to the trellis with a cloth sling.

Be sure to plant vegetables in containers if in-ground space is limited.  A 5-gallon bucket or comparable size container is perfect for a tomato.  Peppers and eggplants will thrive in a bit smaller pot.  Grow vine crops in containers and allow them to crawl over the deck or patio instead of valuable gardening space.  Mix flowers and herbs in with your vegetables.  You’ll increase the beauty while adding additional fragrance to the pot.

Harvest often and at the proper time.  Zucchini and other summer squash should be picked when 6 to 8 inches long or in the case of patty pan squash it reaches 3 inches in diameter.  The flavor is better than those baseball bat size zucchini and you’ll have plenty to eat and share.  Harvest your head of cabbage when firm and full size.  Leave the bottom leaves and roots intact.  Soon you will have 4 or 5 smaller heads to harvest and enjoy.

With a bit of planning and creativity you can find ways to increase the enjoyment and harvest in any size garden.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers web site is www.melindamyers.com