Midsummer Gardening Checklist

It's not to late to save your garden or to even start a new one! Follow along with our midsummer to-do list to help pick things up again while encouraging growth and improving fall yields.

Pull Bolted or Spent Plants & Keep Planting!
This one is a hard one for me to do. Maybe that half dead bed of peas will pull a Lazarus and spring back to life pushing out a few more harvests! Not gonna happen, pull and compost the dead plants (if you suspect the plants are diseased avoid composting) add a little good soil and plant something else in the ground.
Those bolted radishes are taking up valuable garden bed real-estate! Remember to rotate crops and plant something different. We particularly like planting more carrots as they won't mind the cooler temperatures later this fall. Included in our late summer plantings are bush beans, they are quick to grow and won't take over your garden if you have limited space. Zone 4 gardeners will also be able to squeeze in a planting of lettuce, spinach, radishes and even beets.

Harvest Garlic + Replace with Dutch Clover
Your soil's nutrients took a beating growing that beautiful garlic, now is the time to plant some dreamy dutch clover. Dutch clover will amend the soil and attract the honey bees who your squash and brussels sprouts desperately need right now. Yeah yeah yeah, dutch clover spreads, but what have you done for a honey bee lately while they've been slaving away feeding our entire planet?

Celery Maintenance
Every year we try and grow something new, this year we are taking a stab at celery. If you planted in early summer chances are your stalks will need an elastic hair binder around each plant to encourage taller stalks. Also build up the soil around the base of the plant with mulch and compost and don't forget to water! These guys are always thirsty, and if you live in a world where you think the rain is enough for your garden, think again! 

Pumpkins + Squash Friends
Monitor for Squash Vine Borer.  Apply Mulch and fertilizer. If trying to grow great big pumpkins consider gently removing all but your largest healthiest baby fruit at this stage so your plant can send all its nutrients and good juju to that particular pumpkin. 

Watermelon & Melon Maintenance
Place cardboard and/or straw between the soil and fruit to prevent rotting. 

Plant a Pollinator Garden Bed
Many garden centers are purging plants and flowers at a discounted price. Fill your garden with many pollinator friendly varieties now to get those female squash flowers pollinated and fruiting. Checkout our pollinator friendly flower guide for more information on what to plant.

Fertilize + Prune (repeat) 
Remove old withered and yellow leaves throughout the garden on plants that are still producing. You can try and keep your herbs going by deadheading but for the freshest flavor we prefer starting over and sowing new seeds every few weeks, Cilantro is a good example of an herb you must keep replanting after it insists on flowering. Apply a compost tea or drench plants in a organic liquid fertilizer, we love TwoMikes every few weeks. 

Garden Planning: Edible Flowers

 Illustration by  Ashley Barlow.

Illustration by Ashley Barlow.

Edible flowers, oh how you make our hearts sing!!

This year, we've decided to turn our attention to flowers that are not only beautiful but edible and pollinator friendly.

So while you're busy finalizing and tweaking your garden designs, consider adding some of these delicious flora friends into your garden, container or corner of the world.

Here's the round up of our picks for 2015:

  1. Pansy -  full sun, lots of water, good in containers or boarders. Recipe, Pansy Flower Cookies
  2. Dandelion - full/partial sun, probably already grows like weed in your yard. Recipe Dandelion Jelly
  3. Carnation - full sun, well drained soil. Recipe Grilled Peach & Carnation Salad
  4. Chrysanthemum - full early sun, well drained soil, fall bloomer. Recipe Roast Chicken Noodle Chrysanthemum Soup
  5. Violet -  sun with light shade, well drained soil, don't over water. Recipe Old Fashion Sweet Violet Syrup
  6. Lavender - full sun, dry well drained soil, smells amazing. Recipe Lavender Honey
  7. Chamomile - sun with light shade, well drained soil, can spread, good for container. Recipe Chamomile Tea
  8. Nasturtium - full sun, easy to grow, good for containers, boarders & kids. Recipe Nasturtium Stuffed Flowers
  9. Rose - full sun, loamy soil, many varieties, needs pruning. Recipe Rose Petal Sorbet
  10. Allium - full sun, well drained soil, deer resistant, bulb. Recipe Allium Blossom Vinegar
  11. Borage - a personal favorite, full sun to partial shade, long bloom. Recipe Candied Borage Blossoms
  12. Lilac - full sun, any soil type, shurb, hardy, low maintenance. Recipe Lilac Scones With Rhubarb Curd

Growing Solutions: Pollinator Gardens

 Use the hashtag #feedmorebees to have your favorite pollinator friendly plants added to our guide!

Use the hashtag #feedmorebees to have your favorite pollinator friendly plants added to our guide!

While local legislation and advocacy groups are leading the fight against fungicides and pesticides that cause massive honey bee die offs, your garden or homestead can also be apart of the solution in a big way. The fact is, while more people are turning to beekeeping as apart of the solution, the honeybee is running out of dependable sources of food. When nectar in the field becomes scarce, the worker bees drag the drones out of the hive and do not let them return, causing them to starve to death.

We can help. Plant any of the following flowers this year to feed more bees. These flowers are all suited for zones 1-5. If you are buying plants make sure they aren't just labeled pollinator friendly, but most importantly that they are sold at a 
neonicotinoids-free garden center. For more information on our world's disappearing honeybee, check out this TED talk by local hero to us Dr. Marla Spivak.

Don't be a jerk. 
Help save the honeyBees.
 #feedmorebees

Tennessee Purple Coneflower + Pincushion flower + Pincushion flower + Yarrow

Prickly Poppy + Rosemary + Thyme + Mint

Sweet alyssum + Sunflowers + Bee Balm (Lemon) + Crocus  

 

 

Thank you to our friends at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for the flower photos and for their commitment to providing rare non-GMO heirloom seeds. They make planting Pollinator Gardens easy by selling pollinator seed collections. Give 'em a look-see! 


 

Bee Anatomy

We've been watching busy bee's collecting pollen and nectar all summer long and wondered - how do they do this, what are those little yellow sacks on their legs and how does pollen turn into honey?

In order to find out, we gave ourselves a lesson on basic bee anatomy, here's what we learned!

Proboscis:

The honeybee uses this long hairy tongue to pull liquid nectar from plants and flowers. The worker bee's transfer of pollen enables many plants to reproduce.  

Honey Stomach:
Nectar is stored inside the "honey stomach" which is then brought back to the hive and deposited into the honeycomb. 

Wings:
Bees flit their wings to dry up the liquid nectar turning it into honey. 

Pollen Basket
The bee will diet on Pollen harvesting and transferring it on their hind legs.

Producer Story: The Beez Kneez

If you are anything like us, you’ve read or watched a panic-inducing documentary about the vanishing bee crisis our food system is currently facing. 

Honey bees pollinate plants that produce about a quarter of the worlds food including apples, almonds, watermelons and beans. Bee populations have been dying off at a rate that the U.S Government deems economically unsustainable, as high as 30%. 

Local heroes to us, The Beez Kneez, LLC, are one part of the solution.  We sat down with educator, beekeeper and bicyclist Erin Rupp to learn a little more about Beez Kneez and to find out just how these gorgeous honey bees can give our community a much needed dose of hope.

 

Read More

Cross Pollination

So now that we've got a handle on the basic anatomy of a bee, we wondered how the process of pollination actually occurs? Here's the technical definition:

  1. Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flowerby pollinating animals such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, animals, or by the wind.

  2. The transfer of pollen in and between flowers of the same species leads to fertilization, and successful seed and fruit production for plants.

  3. Pollination ensures that a plant will produce full-bodied fruit and a full set of viable seeds.

     

Speaking of pollination
Did you know that bumble bee's actually "bumble" inside of flowers to knock the pollen onto it's back?! Very effective and very cute.

And for extra credit...
When deciding what to plant, check out the bloom times listed and try to space out your blooms so the pollinators have continuous pollen all season long. Those lil buddies will thank you and so will we!

Here is a list of beneficial plants for Minnesota Bee's.