Let It Bee….

Did you know honey bees are not native to North America?  I had no idea!    I first learned of this in a book by Lisa Mason Ziegler, “Vegetables Love Flowers.  Great read! I highly recommend it if you love to garden.

Lisa does a great job educating us about companion planting, what the beneficials are in the garden (even spiders and snakes….oh my), succession planting and the photography in her book is just beautiful. She even has an on line book discussion.  Loved it!

There are apparently 4000 different types of native bees to North America, and they are in danger too – it seem the honey bees get all the press.  We need bees to pollinate our fruits and vegetables.  Believe it or not, native bees can be better pollinators than honey bees. I am in no way dissing honey bees – I love their local honey!!!!

Honey bees came to North American from Europe with the colonists and have been managed as an agricultural resource ever since.  When a farmer needs bees, honey bees are the easiest to bring in and go away when finished.

Honey bees cannot pollinate tomato plants – wow – who knew!!  The humble bumble bee can! Some plants have their pollen on the outside (like a lilly’s anther, you can see the pollen).  The tomato plant’s pollen is inside the flower – the bumble gets in there and shakes the pollen out!

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I’m an avid podcast listener, are you?  One of my favorite podcasts is “Living Homegrown” by Theresa Loe.  I recently listened to podcast # 141 (www.livinghomegrown.com/141 ) where Theresa interviews Lisa Mason Ziegler and podcast # 147 (www.livinghomegrown.com/147 ) where author Paige Embry is interviewed by Theresa regarding our native bees.

Both podcasts are full of educational facts about our native bee problems.  Paige Embry has written “Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them”. This book looks fabulous and is on my Amazon wish list!

Please know that I, in no way, make any $ off of any of the books or podcasts I recommend.  I find the books and podcasts highly interesting, and want to pass on what I have learned to you.  If we work together, we can all make the world a better place! Yes?

If you would like to receive more info about our farm, what I’m learning (you’re never too old to learn, right???), tutorials, etc., please hit the yes, please button on our contact page.  For subscribing, you will receive my little recipe “TASTY” pdf of Family Tree Farm’s Favorite Summertime Recipes

Happy Summer!

Karen Doyle

 

 

Wabi-Sabi

Have you heard about Wabi-Sabi?  What is it you ask?  A new dance move, or is it a song?  Nope, Wabi-Sabi is an ancient Japanese practice that appreciates imperfections in life and the ability to age gracefully.  I am fully on board with this – how about you?

So, how does Wabi-Sabi relate to gardening?  As per “Garden Media Group”, Wabi-Sabi gardens imitate nature in a way that allows you to relax and appreciate their humble and imperfect forms – yes, even the weeds.  I am so into this!  I’m not sure about the weeds, but then again, I use Goldenrod and Queen Ann’s Lace in my flower bouquets.

Then there are dandelions!  I have a recipe for dandelion wine that my dear Uncle John passed on to me years ago.  I’m gonna have to dig that out!

As a flower farmer, I am always experimenting with new flowers.  I plant a lot by seed.  Check out my lovely stand of pigweed I grew last year!

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My only guess is, I thinned out the real flower and left the weeds.  They grew so nicely in a row!  The hubs kept telling me it was a weed.  I, of course, didn’t believe him – BAHHAAAA!  I’m sure it will happen again, but this time I will embrace the practice of Wabi-Sabi!  Maybe I can use the weeds in bouquets!

I love to pick flowers.   Many times, the flowers that I pick are not always perfect.  I love them anyhow.  I will pick them and use them even if they do lean a little this way or a little that way.  I love using the center disk of a flower in an arrangement after all the petals fall off.  There is something in their imperfection that I love and is unique.

 

 

I have watched others while they are cutting flowers and they do the same.  Just because the flower is a little wonky, doesn’t mean it won’t fit in.  That imperfect flower always fills a spot where something is missing.  Wabi-Sabi was meant for me, how about you??

I love this quote:

Imperfect Gardening

“The garden is a natural place to embrace Wabi-Sabi – the art of imperfect beauty, and practice the delicate balance between nature and nurture.”

     Ilana Goldowitz Jimenez, PhD.

Do you want to be part of Family Tree Farm’s community?  Click HERE to receive the latest farm updates, recipes, tips, tutorials and more delivered right to your in-box one to two times a month.  This month I’ve created  “TASTY” Farm Fresh Summer Recipes.

It’s Hard To Work The Plan….

My beloved Father-In-Law, Dick Doyle, once told me, “it’s fun to plan the work, but hard to work the plan”. I keep thinking about his words as I’m on my hands and knees this spring planting, planting, planting.  Why did I buy so many plants – YIKES, how many seeds do I have to plant?

Are any of you in the same boat?  This spring has been so unpredictable – one weekend I was wearing my winter coat with three layers under it while watching my granddaughter play lacrosse, the next week I was planting in 80+ degree weather.

The seed catalogs started rolling in just after Christmas.  My spring job here on the farm is to plan and plant our PYO Flower Garden.  I had so much fun picking out all the wonderful flowers I want to plant.  Someone, please make me STOP buying seeds!  Well, no one did. The hubs did roll his eyes at me as soon as the seed packets started arriving in the mail,  but it was too late!!

Don’t get me wrong – I love spring.  I love to plant something and watch it grow, but OH my aching back.   Ah, yes, it’s a labor of love.  I can’t wait to see all the flowers blooming and have folks taking a time out just for themselves, enjoying the garden and cutting beautiful blooms to take home.

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I’m sure many of you will be asking yourselves the same question over the next couple weeks – why did I buy so many plants?  How many zucchini do we really need?  Just remember:

It’s fun to plan the work, but hard to work the plan.

Can you dig it?  Bahhhaaa!

Every year, I get a lot of questions about how we constructed our vertical pallet flower fence at our roadside stand.  It’s so simple – maybe you have an area around your home for something like this.  I made a short video on how we did it…

 

Don’t forget to plant some flowers in your vegetable garden this year.  The flowers will attract beneficial insects and make your garden chores happier!  Check out my list of 5 Easy Annual Cut Flowers HERE.

See you soon!

Karen

 

 

Flower Power

We’re all itchin’ to get outside after this very long winter and spring!  Here on the farm we are planting Christmas trees and getting the gardens ready for veggies and flowers.  Have you started to think about what veggies you want to plant in your garden?  I know you have! 😉 Along with your favorite plants, why not add some flowers?

My grandmother’s garden always had marigolds in it.  I realize now that she planted them as a natural way of deterring aphids, bean beetles, squash bugs, etc. !  There are varieties of marigolds that are 8″-9″; however, there are some varieties that grow 40″!

Think about it: while you are harvesting your tomatoes you could be tip toeing through the tulips too.  Well, maybe not tulips, but how about some annual flowers that you can cut and bring into your home or give away to friends and relatives or someone you know who could use a little lift in their day.

There is no denying it.  The power of flowers is contagious!!

Here are a few reasons why planting flowers in your veggie garden is so very worthwhile:

  • Most annual flowers are EASY to grow right along with your vegetables.
  • The flowers will attract beneficial insects to your garden which will help with the pollination of your veggies! Yes, most insects are good!  Snakes too! YIKES!
  • Gosh, having flowers in your garden could make the hard work of gardening fun!
  • When you harvest your veggies (should be twice a week), harvest your flowers too! Keep them, or make someone’s day!

The key to a great garden is to pick, and pick often.  The annual that you plant will produce for one season.  It’s whole mission in life is to produce a seed.  If you keep picking, you are kind of tricking it into producing more and more!  If you are a seed saver, collect the seeds from the flowers that you plant at the end of the season.

We start a ton of our flowers and vegetables by seed each year along with plants.  When the plants are at the end of their useful life, you will have another crop of veggies or flowers coming along.  Succession planting is key to a long and healthy garden.

If you are interested in my Top 5 List of EASY Annual Flowers to plant in your garden, please click HERE.