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Monthly Archives: October 2016

Use Water Efficiently

Water rarely, profoundly, and altogether – This will support attaching and more noteworthy resilience to droughts. Plants convey additional roots in dry conditions to look for water. Plants regularly sprout all the more abundantly when worried, as the characteristic intuition to imitate makes more blooms.

Water dependably, utilizing right watering procedures – Water at a young hour in the day, particularly as the climate warms, to decrease vanishing misfortune. Water less frequently and for longer time allotments to support profound root development. Make certain your water system framework is in legitimate working condition. On the off chance that trickle water system won’t work for you, attempt a hand held hose instead of a sprinkler. In the event that you utilize a sprinkler, ensure you don’t water walkways or garages.

Appropriately condition your dirt – Water does not effectively infiltrate earth soils and water passes too rapidly past the root zone of plants in sandy soil. Adding natural matter to mud and sandy soils will expand the vulnerability of earth soils and the water holding limit of sandy soils.

Mulch soil surface – Mulching cuts down on water loss due to evaporation. A two-inch layer of mulch or compost is recommended. Apply mulches to shrubs, trees, annuals, vegetable gardens, and even containers.

Shelter container plants – To conserve water, move containers to areas with partial shade to keep them from drying quickly in hot windy areas.

Install a drip or other water conserving irrigation system – Slow drip and deep root watering systems can save up to 60% of all water used in garden care. Professionally installed and maintained irrigation systems will further help conserve water. Capture rainwater from your roof in a barrel and use it later to water your garden and ornamental plants.

Cut lawns to proper height – Gradually let lawns reach a height of 3 to 4 inches. Longer blades of grass can mean going 3 to 4 days longer between waterings.

Discourage water competition from weeds – Keep weeds pulled and reduce the likelihood of them returning by mulching. Consider using landscape fabric between the soil and your mulch to further reduce weeds.

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden?

I can’t envision a garden without the winged diamonds. Pulling in them is simple with the correct plants and feeders.

Here, in the eastern United States, the ruby-throated hummingbird rules. Periodically, relocating hummingbirds from the West go through, however our ruby companions are sufficiently great with their red neck scarves and minor size. Did you know they weigh just as much as a dime?

Hummingbirds are little however compelling. Despite their size, they require a lot of fuel for their powerhouse digestion system. On the off chance that you beat your wings 90 times each second, you would require real fuel, as well! Hummingbirds require nectar from up to 1,000 blooms a day. Additionally, they devour a fantastic number of minor creepy crawlies for protein.

To make your own particular hummingbird cultivate, begin with a sunny area. Arrange a constant show of sprouts from April to October so hummingbirds have a relentless sustenance source. Search for brilliant, tubular blossoms, hand crafted for a long, thin bill. Support red and orange blossoms, yet incorporate different sprouts overwhelming with nectar.

Some of the hummingbird’s favorite perennials are bee balm (Monarda didyma), coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea), foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), bleeding heart (Dicentra) and hollyhock (Alcea). Preferred annuals include fuchsia, petunia, Lantana, morning glory (Ipomoea), larkspur (Consolida ajacis/ ambigua), nasturtium (Tropaeolum) and four o’clock (Mirabilis jalapa). Both annual and perennial salvia and phlox are good choices as are canna lily and gladiouse grown for bulbs.
Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) and coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) vines are irresistible to hummingbirds. They are fond of the flowering shrubs weigela, butterfly bush (Buddlei davidii), rose of sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) and catawba rhododendron (Rhododendron catawbiense.) The nectar-rich flowers of mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) and red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) trees are impossible for hummingbirds to ignore.

Several native plants entice hummingbirds. Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) blooms in concert with their arrival in mid-April. In the summer spy hummingbirds among the perennials beard-tongue (Penstemon digitalis), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) and jaunty orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis.)

Layering — planting low, medium and tall plants in a bed from front to back or edge to middle — makes garden beds more appealing to humming-birds and to the human eye. By creating an easily accessible smorgasbord of sizes, shapes, fragrances and colors, entice hummingbirds to linger over a flower feast. It also makes them easier for you to see and enjoy.

Commercial feeders supplement natural nectar sources and give you a chance to observe hummingbirds more closely. The best feeders are sturdy, have multiple ports and perches, and are easy to clean and hang. To make nectar, mix one part white sugar with four parts water, boil for one or two minutes and cool. Do not add dye. Fill your feeder and place it in a shady spot you can see easily. Clean and refill the feeder every few days.

Hummingbirds prefer a shower to the bird bath. Put a mister or drip fountain near your hummingbird garden, and they will fly through the mist, catching water on their feathers to bathe and cool their tiny bodies. I spent a happy hour last summer watching two hummingbirds dance in the fine spray created by a loose hose connection.

By creating a garden habitat with hummingbirds in mind, you will bring beauty on the wing to your back yard and give life-saving sustenance to these petite wonders.

Dry Shade Planting

A large portion of us who live in rural regions, and attempt to plant a garden under a tree, meet constrained achievement. The reason our garden doesn’t develop well can typically be ascribed to dry shade. What precisely is dry shade?

Have you ever been outside when a sudden shower makes them keep running for cover? In the event that you keep running under a tree, you see you don’t get so wet. You are profiting from the umbrella-like canape of the tree. Bravo, however awful for the plants attempting to develop there. Add to this the parched underlying foundations of that same tree drinking up accessible water before the littler plants have a possibility, and you start to comprehend what might be the issue with your battling garden.

Adding natural matter to the dirt is one of the best solutions for any planting issue including this one. In any case, be watchful. Heaping soil on the ground under a tree can cover its underlying foundations and slaughter the tree. In like manner, extreme burrowing under a tree can seriously harm its root framework.

You can, however, safely add a two to three inch layer of compost or mushroom soil to the soil beneath the tree. Then select small plants, so it is not necessary to dig deep holes. That way you will disturb the tree roots as little as possible. Keep the garden well watered, and the next year add three more inches of soil amendment.

There are some plants that are better at accepting dry shade than others.

However, for your garden to really thrive, you will always have to water and fertilize it more regularly than you would most other gardens. Not only does your tree drink up the lion’s share of the water, it also gobbles up the nutrients. I like to use a natural fertilizer because, although it’s true that plants can’t tell the difference between natural or chemical, the natural fertilizer actually builds your soil where the chemical does not.

An excellent idea for caring for a shade garden is to rake the leaves off of it and shred them in the fall, then put them back on the garden. Leaves falling onto your garden in the fall can become wet and matted and actually smother your smaller plants. But if you rake them out of the garden using a flexible rake (I use a small hand-held rake called a “Yard Butler”), then shred them (this can be done with a lawn mower with a bagger), you can apply them safely back onto the garden area like mulch. This practice will feed your plants, protect them from heaving, and help retain soil moisture.

If leaves fall onto your lawn, it is not necessary to rake them. Run over them with your non-bagging mulching mower and let the shredded leaves scatter over the grass. Do this regularly as the leaves fall, and you can digest up to 18 inches of leaves with no raking. Your lawn will remain healthy and thankful for the extra nutrients that the leaves provide.

Looking for a suggestion for a good looking plant combination for your shade garden? One of my favorite shade plants is Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ . This year it was chosen 2012 perennial plant of the year. It is a large leafed perennial resembling a hosta, but it has silvery leaves with dark veins. Pair it Heuchera (Coral Bells) ‘Silver Scrolls’ which has a silver leaf with red veining, and deep red highlights. I love the ‘Silver Scrolls’, and it is less expensive because it is an older cultivar.

For a garden with a green and gold theme, try combining Hosta ‘Sum and Substance’ with Variegated Solomon’s Seal along with the Heuchera ‘Georgia Peach’ for a deep red accent.

Ground covers also work well in your shade garden. Creeping Jenny (Lysemachia nummularia, ‘aurea’) is a bright yellow ground cover that stays close to the ground. It can really brighten up the shade or the sun garden. Another wonderful bright yellow ground cover for the shade is Vinca Minor ‘Illumination’. It has bright yellow leaves which are edged in green. I love Spotted Dead Nettle as a ground cover in the shade. It has a variegated leaf with a pink or white flower in May. Keep in mind that anything called a “ground cover” gets its name because it spreads and multiplies. They all need to be restricted at some point.

Here is a list of additional plants that will tolerate dry shade. Lenten Rose, Lily of the Valley, Columbine, False Lamium ‘Herman’s Pride’, Liriope, Pulmonaria (Lungwort), Bergenia (try ‘Lunar Glow’), some Hostas

(Sum and Substance is the best I have found so far), Epimedium, and

Nandina Domestica. For vines try: Climbing Hydranges, and Golden hops.

This list would not be complete without including bulbs. Bulbs need sun to bloom, but when planted beneath deciduous trees, they bloom early before the trees leaf out in the spring so they do get their sun. Once the bulb completes its photosynthesis process after blooming, it actually prefers dry soil all summer.

My final suggestion for dry shade gardening is the use of pots. A couple beautiful pots placed among the ground cover in the shady area makes a very lovely picture. Two advantages are that you just have to water the pots, not the whole garden as often, and you can enjoy plants in the pots that won’t tolerate the dry shade. Begonias, Caladiums, and Coleous are all good choices for the shade in pots. Going back to the idea of the Brunnera and Heuchera, I would add a bright blue glazed pot containing the red flowers of Dragon Wing Begonia mixed with Licorice plant (Helichysum). Take a trip to your favorite greenhouse, and they will point out some excellent shade flower suggestions.

No Water Gardening

In the event that you are a man who might want your property to look pleasant with least cultivating exertion, this article is for you.

How might you want to have a garden that you never need to stress over watering, even on the most sizzling days of summer? It’s exceptionally conceivable, you know. There are plants that survive unaided in Death Valley, CA. You simply need to know which plants to pick. We are somewhat more fortunate here in South Central, PA, where we normally get an extensively more noteworthy measure of rain than in many parts of the nation, so our rundown of plants that will survive and prosper without extra water is any longer than Death Valley’s!

Cultivating with dry season tolerant plants, in garden dialect, is called xeriscaping. This term basically alludes to cultivating in approaches to incredibly decrease or kill watering.

Two other master gardeners and I have some trial gardens at the Ag Center in Gettysburg where we can experiment with plants which we never water. In addition, I have helped care for some public gardens at Lake Meade for quite a few years which never have received any supplemental watering. Each of these gardens is located in full sun, so the plants I will be recommending are for a sunny location.

Plants in the Master Gardeners’ trial beds at the Extension Office come back every year
and never receive any supplemental water.

Before I begin listing plants that will perform well with no supplemental watering, let me mention a few things that will increase your chances of having a successful garden. First, adding organic material such as compost, manure, or shredded leaves to your soil is very important. It will improve the tilth of your soil, making the nutrients more usable to your plants. It will also greatly improve drainage. Second, keeping two or three inches of mulch around your plants will help retain moisture in the soil and slow down evaporation. Third, keeping your garden free of weeds will eliminate unnecessary competition for the available water and also keep your garden looking its best. Lastly, many plants need time to establish themselves before they can attain their true drought resistance. All plants need to be thoroughly watered at planting time, and it’s a good idea to water them a few more times if the weather is especially dry until they have a chance to develop their root systems.

Some plants, however, seem downright amazing. Last spring, I dug up some Shasta Daisies ?Becky? from my own yard and took two clumps to one of the public gardens that I tend. I took along a gallon jug filled with water, dug two small holes, planted the clumps, and then divided the gallon of water between them. I never took them any more water, ever, and they bloomed all summer right into late fall. This year their clumps are bigger and better and blooming beautifully. Unfortunately, not having to water does not mean your garden will be maintenance free. However, it does mean that you get to garden on your own time and not on demand from Mother Nature. It also means you can go away on a week’s or month’s vacation and still come back to a flourishing garden even during the harshest conditions of summer.

My list of drought-tolerant plants includes many native plants. Natives are always good choices because they not only have adapted themselves to grow well in our climate, but they do the best job of providing nectar for pollinators and habitat for our local wildlife. However, my list is not restricted to natives. Many imported plants have value in our gardens as long as they do not become invasive and crowd out native habitats. These are plants that I have found will survive and flourish well here in our area with no supplemental watering. It is in no way meant to be a complete listing. It is simply meant to supply some suggestions for getting you started toward a more environmentally- friendly garden.

The list includes Reed Grass, ‘Karl Forester’, Pennisetum (Fountain Grass), Perovskia (Russian Sage), Echinacea (Purple Coneflower), Eupatorium (Joe-Pye weed), any of the Sedums, Sempervivum (Hens and Chicks), and Stachys Byzantina (Lamb’s Ears). Other drought-tolerant perennials include Penstemon (Beard’s Tongue), Aghastache (Hyssop), Amsonia, Asclepius Tuberosa (Butterfly Weed), Aster, Coreopsis (Tickseed), Gaura, Siberian Iris, Lychnis Coronaria (Rose Campion), Monarda (Bee Balm), Scabiosa (Pincushion flower), Day Lilies, Knock-out Roses, Lavender, and Shasta Daisies ‘Becky’. Avoid Miscanthus sinensis grasses, as they tend to be invasive.

Native Pollinators

It has been figured that one of each three or four bites of sustenance that we eat and refreshments we drink is subject to fertilization by creatures. That incorporates products, for example, most vegetables, vegetables, natural products, nuts, berries, herbs and flavors, oils, seeds and grains.

That is the reason we as a whole should be frightened by the abatement in local pollinators. Human exercises are the main motivation for this decay, particularly natural surroundings misfortune and pesticides.

Fertilization is a piece of life that has developed over ages to profit both blooming plants and pollinators. At the point when pollinators visit blossoms, dust rubs or drops onto their bodies. The dust then is exchanged to another blossom or an alternate some portion of a similar bloom. This procedure is a fundamental stage in the life cycle of every single blossoming plant and is important to begin seed and organic product generation in blooms.

Some plants rely on wind to transfer pollen, but 90% of all plant species need the help of animals. There are more than 200,000 species of animals around the world that act as pollinators. A small number of these are vertebrates, such as birds, bats and small mammals. The vast majority of them are invertebrates, including bees, beetles, butterflies, moths and flies.

Native pollinators have not gotten much attention recently, but we need to become more aware of their value, and create habits to attract them to our yards. Native pollinators are adapted to local climate conditions and soils and thus require less maintenance.

In the United States, honeybees and thousands of species of native bees are responsible for pollinating crops. The great majority of native bees are solitary nesting bees. Bees visit flowers to get pollen and/or nectar, which they use to feed themselves and their offspring. Solitary bees nest in a variety of places including dead trees, dirt mounds and termite holes.

Bumblebees are the exception as they live in social colonies. They need a bigger space for nesting, which can be above ground, in hollow trees or walls, or below ground in an abandoned rodent hole. So don’t be too quick to make your yard neat and tidy, destroying potential homes for native bees.

Many of you have heard of Colony Collapse Disorder, the condition that was found in the early spring of 2007. Thousands of honeybee hives that seemed healthy in 2006 were found empty or full of dead bees after the winter. This is a problem, mostly for commercial bee-keepers who truck their thousands of hives from Texas to New Mexico, Nevada, California, Oregon and Idaho following successive crops that need the help of bees for pollination. Colony Collapse Disorder is still not fully understood, but some theories include bee exhaustion from the stress of traveling far distances and poor diet from gathering pollen and nectar from only one plant crop at a time, rather than getting nutrients from a wide variety of plants every day.

Honeybees have long gotten most of the credit for pollinating in your vegetable garden, but native bees have always been important for pollinating tomatoes, eggplant, melons, zucchini, winter squash, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Honeybees are not native to the United States, arriving in the 1600’s with English and Dutch settlers, and later with Spanish priests in Mexico and the Southwest. Farmers love honeybees because they live in hives which are easily portable, and contain thousands of eager workers. Native bees are the under-appreciated local talent.

There are various ways to attract native pollinators wherever you live:

Offer a flower buffet. Planting a variety of flower types and colors attracts and supports the biggest variety of native pollinators. Include native wildflowers. Go to a local garden center where many flowers are in bloom. Buy the plants that have the most bees on them.
Concentrate on perennials. Many annuals are hybrids, bred for show, not for nectar and pollen.
Plan a continuous, three-season bloom. Different bees have different life cycles and need food at different times of the year.
Plant large clumps of each flower type. One here and one there does not attract bees well.
Add water if you don’t have a natural source in your yard. A bird bath or drip irrigation hose provides clean water for bees.
Leave bare ground. Most native bees live alone in the ground and need to dig their own nest tunnel. Plastic weed barriers and heavy mulch are habitat destroyers for them.

Bees and Other Pollinators

Honey bees are the new ‘enormous point’ in the planting scene. What might we manage without them? What might we eat? How might we get nectar? Nursery workers, ranchers, orchardists, and researchers are all doing their best to answer these inquiries, and furthermore to help the honey bee populace survive and flourish. We live on a planet pollinated essentially by honey bees. Honey bees fertilize the greater part of our most loved blooms and 33% of the plants we eat.

Honey bees :

I understand I am a plant specialist thus I hear a ton about the honey bee issue, however there may in any case be a few people out there who haven’t found out about Colony Collapse Disorder wrecking hives the world over. Some may at present consider a honey bee a creepy crawly to fear or to slaughter. Indeed, even one of our U.S. congresspersons (who might go anonymous) said that protection for bumble bees is a ‘pork extend’ and ought to be wiped out from the jolt bundle. Of the considerable number of things that may be considered “pork” we most likely need bumble bees more than whatever else. Bumble bees are the real pollinators of apples, pears, fruits, and plums. These trees were staples on the little homesteads that used to encompass our towns.

Things are quite different now-our landscape has been broken up into developments with nary a tree-at least not one that bees are attracted to. The orchards are certainly still here, but bigger. Today honeybees are rented and their hives are transported by trucks to the fruit and vegetables as they are needed. Maybe this is part of the problem. Who doesn’t get stressed on the interstate, traveling along in rush hour or very hot or cold conditions!

To answer the question of what would we eat if honey bees disappeared, the only items left to us would be grains and cereal. Corn and cereal grains are pollinated by wind. That is why the corn seed package will say to plant your corn in a block, not a single long row. You can identify a corn ear that has been incompletely pollinated because the kernels are uneven in size or the kernels only go halfway up the ear. Wheat, oats, and barley all have the seed heads at the tops of the stems-the breeze blows and the plants get pollinated. Concerning honey, we wouldn’t have any without bees-only honey bees make honey, a product that doesn’t spoil (it has been found in the pyramids in Egypt). This is certainly a simplification-in the hive the bees seal the honey compartments; in the grocery store the jar is sealed. But once the jar is opened the honey may turn sugary, but not spoiled.

Another Social Bee :

Honey bees are social-they have a hive, a queen, workers and drones-all with specific tasks. Bumblebees are also social and live in a group. With our landscaped lawns and non-native shrubs as landscaping, they may find it difficult to find shelter or food. Bumblebees will live in old mouse nests or rodent burrows, deserted bird nests, cushioned clumps of moss and simple holes in the ground. Be sure to leave some bare patches of earth available to bees and other ground-dwelling insects.

Bumblebees are important pollinators of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, melons, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, and many other crops. They are the only known pollinators of potatoes worldwide. They are also the exclusive pollinator of several rare and imperiled wildflowers, including native monkshoods and lady’s tresses orchids. Without these essential insects, farm productivity would plummet and some wildflowers would become extinct. In short, bumblebees and other bees are essential for our own well being and the survival of a good deal of the world’s biodiversity. Another little-known fact is that bumblebees will pollinate the tomato plants that are grown in greenhouses; they work side by side with the human workers, without stinging.

Solitary Bees :

There are many other native American bees. For the most part these are solitary bees, meaning they do not congregate in a hive or have a queen or make honey. They lay their eggs in a hollow flower stem, or a hole made in a tree by a bird or insect, or they may live in the soil. They can make use of the many bee boxes that are now available to the general public to promote bee habitation. These solitary bees do pollinate native plants. Don’t jump to the conclusion when you see a bee on a flower that it is a honey bee. Mason bees, carpenter bees and orchard bees are all examples of solitary bees.The natural habitats of bumblebees and other native bees, which were pollinating North America long before the colonists arrived with their European honeybees, continue to be carved up, destroyed, or degraded. However, we all can help improve the lot of natives by planting the flowers they love, whether we garden on an acre or in a window box. One small bumblebee garden may not seem like much, but as these patches of backyard habitat multiply across the community and the country, they can play a vital role in feeding and protecting threatened pollinators.

Other Pollinators :

There are many other pollinators-birds, bats, insects, flies, moths and small animals such as mice. If your yard has desirable plants, the pollinators will show up and we will be richer for them.

Bees, Your Friend Or Foe?

Many individuals, including a few plant specialists, tend to consider honey bees the foe. Without a doubt honey bees will sting, and a few people are spooky unfavorably susceptible. In any case, did you realize that if not for honey bees, the majority of the sustenance that we appreciate and depend on, would not exist anymore.

Fertilization, as you may know, is the way toward moving dust that permits the plant to deliver a prolific seed. A few plants are self-pollinated or pollinated by twist, yet by far most of our most loved sustenance plants should be pollinated by honey bees keeping in mind the end goal to blossom and deliver their item. What an overall fiasco it would bring about in the event that we lost every one of our honey bees. In all actuality the honey bee populace around the globe is relentlessly declining.

Beginning in 2006, a mysterious disease called Colony Collapse Syndrome started killing off our honey bees. Whole hives were wiped out in one season. Continuing research for the cause of the disease is still inconclusive, but unsurprisingly seems to be pointing to an accumulation of chemicals, toxins, and viruses so abundant in our environment today. Loss of the honey bees is causing a terrible strain on our local orchard men who rely heavily on them to pollinate their fruit trees.

You may be surprised to know that the familiar and valuable honey bee is not a native bee. We actually have several thousand native bee species in the United States who are not as dramatically affected by the Colony Collapse Syndrome, probably because they are solitary bees as opposed to hive dwellers. With the dramatic decline of the honey bees, their role in the pollination process becomes ever more important.

As gardeners and homeowners we have an obligation to protect and provide for these native bees as much as possible. Small gardens can make a difference!

If you are a backyard gardener like myself, you have probably always thought of your garden as your private little haven that doesn’t make any difference to anyone else. Wrong! You are needed to be part of an important effort to save our pollinators!

Our pollinators are declining because their habitats are disappearing. Each time a housing development or superstore is built, huge areas of habitat are wiped out. What once was home to thousands of living creatures is paved over for a parking lot, and in the housing developments the new homeowners come along and plant big expanses of lawn and exotic plants from other continents which are of no use to our native bees and wildlife. To make matters worse, a large number of these introduced non-native plants have escaped cultivation becoming invasive and crowding out the native plants in our wild areas including state parks and forests thus eliminating even more habitat area. Finally, many of those homeowners use pesticides indiscriminately, killing off the bees that are so vital to us.

What can we do? Make your garden inviting to the bees by planting a variety of flowers for each season so that they can enjoy a continuous supply of nectar from spring through fall. Learn more about native plants, and try to include as many as possible in your landscape. Remember to include native shrubs and trees which not only support the wildlife, but require a good bit less work on your part.

Stop using so many pesticides on your lawn and garden! If you feel you absolutely must use a chemical of some sort, first be sure you have correctly identified the problem. Contact the master gardeners at the Penn State Extension office for help with this. Next select the least toxic substance to accomplish your purpose, and third, use it before dawn or after sunset when the bees are not active.

There are certain precautions you should take when working alongside bees. Always use unscented toiletries, and never wear perfume. Do not wear brightly colored or flowered clothing, and always move slowly and quietly when there are bees around. Swatting, running, and screaming will not produce the results you were hoping for!

Most bees nest in the ground or in hollowed out areas of trees and brush. If you are planning to clean up brush piles, cut wood, or dig out old shrubs, it is always better to do these jobs in colder weather when the bees are dormant or hibernating. My husband and I found out the hard way that if you plan to stand on a ladder and remove your house shutters for painting, it is better to do it in the very early spring before the wasps have built their nests behind them! Disturbing a wasp nest is bad. Doing it while stuck up high on a ladder is much worse!! So use common sense and take precautions, but please invite the bees into your garden.

Now, when you sit quietly in your garden and listen to the drone of bees working, or hear the loud buzzing of a big bumble bee nearby, be proud. Feel good about the fact that you are doing your part.