Category Archives: Garden Prep

Milkweed Magic

The warm season butterflies live for just a few weeks, long enough to lay more eggs. The spring cycle repeats twice more before the autumn-born fourth generation appear in September and October. These are the travelers, living for as much as 8 months and voyaging as far as Mexico. This still seems little short of magical to me. Years ago, my family spent summers on Cape Cod in an old artist’s studio. The windows were warping with age, and mine couldn’t quite shut, so a trumpet vine had wiggled its way into my bedroom. There was a chrysalis on one wandering arm and I was blessed and fascinated to watch a Monarch emerge in a matter of seconds from its little case. It flexed its wings, which expanded in the sunlight, then flew off through the open window, sparking a lifelong delight in the natural world. Continue reading

Posted in Easy Care Perennials, Garden Prep, Pollinators, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Winterizing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Pampering Your Tomatoes

Print PDFOffer Protection On Chilly Nights Nurseries are full of tempting tomato plants right now, including fabulous varieties that are all but irresistible. It’s wise to buy these beauties when you find them, as pickings can get thin as the … Continue reading

Posted in Garden Prep, Grafted Plants, Nutrition, Planting & Transplanting, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Tomatoes | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Friendly Fungi To The Rescue

Perhaps best known among gardeners as the leading source for kits for growing edible mushrooms, Fungi Perfecti is also the place to look for help for beleaguered bee colonies. Since 2014, Paul Stamets has been working with entomologist Dr. Steve Sheppard, head of the Washington State University APIS Molecular Systematics Laboratory, exploring ways in which specific fungi may prove beneficial for honey bees. So far, for example, they’ve found that worker bees resist viral diseases and live longer when fed extracts of certain polypore mushrooms, perhaps in part because such extracts provide B vitamins and a wider range of phytochemicals, micronutrients, and myconutrients than the simple sugar syrups bees are usually fed. Another research effort involves introducing a fungal insect pathogen (Metarhizium spp.) to hives infested with Varroa mites. Bees easily groom away the fungal parasites, which prey heavily on the Varroa mites. Check the website for ongoing information about this and other fascinating fungal projects. Continue reading

Posted in Garden Prep, Pollinators, Soil, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

More Manure, Less Ecological Destruction

In its natural environment, peat moss is highly acidic and nearly sterile, but by the time it is dried and baled, it can harbor spores of fungal diseases that has proven to be dangerous to handlers. Nursery workers are warned by law to wear double gloves and micron filtration masks when handling peat moss. The gardener is not told anything, yet those who handle peat moss regularly are at risk for fungal pneumonias and other illnesses. Worst of all in my mind, peat moss is not a renewable resource. Bogs are delicate, intricate environments that host a great and beautiful diversity of living fauna and flora. When bogs are destroyed by peat mining, companies are now forced to “restore” them, but to date, the artificial, “managed” bogs never achieve the biodiversity of the original habitat. Continue reading

Posted in composting, Garden Prep, Health & Wellbeing, Soil, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living | Tagged , , | Leave a comment