Category Archives: Soil

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

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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

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Saint Patrick’s Day, Or Maybe Not

Print PDFOf Lilac Leaves And Planting Peas When I was a young gardener, I recall being told that the proper time to plant peas was on Saint Patrick’s Day. It stuck in my mind because I learned this bit of … Continue reading

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Restoring Habitat For Birds, Bees, and Butterflies

So are we, and so are a host of small creatures that lived in those woods. Birds and bats, raccoons and foxes, insects and snakes, slugs and salamanders, all displaced if not killed outright. The good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of space to house many of these beings. The bad news is that they need a bit of the wild, and any touch of wild is in danger these days. When I work with homeowners, I often hear that they want to welcome birds and nurture bees, yet the first thing they want to get rid of is the messy tangle of blackberries and salal, huckleberries and wild roses that so often edge the property. Even when I point out that such tangles are home and buffet for the very creatures they want to welcome, it’s clear that many folks can’t live with that lack of controlled appearance. Leaving some wild can be a hard sell, since our ideas about tidiness can be deeply rooted. Thus, it’s hugely important to equally deeply consider why we may think that the appearance of control is more important than a healthy, intact habitat environment. Continue reading

Posted in Annual Color, Early Crops, Easy Care Perennials, Garden Prep, Gardening With Children, Health & Wellbeing, Planting & Transplanting, Pollinators, Soil, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment