Archive for July, 2013

Making Native Bee Nesting Logs

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

Today I finally built some nesting logs for native bees.  I got inspired by the frequent postings of Gail Eichelberger about native plants and native polinators on her blog Clay and Limestone.  I then used some instructions from the Xerces Society (PDF), grabbed some old oak logs and got to work.  Most native bees build solitary nests.  Some nest in the ground and others nest in holes in wood or other cavities.

According to the Xerces Society, holes for wood nesting bees should be 3/32″ to 3/8″ wide and at 3-4″ deep for holes less than 1/4″ in diameter.  And they should be spaced about 3/4″ apart.  Since I had a 3/16″ drill bit on hand, that’s the size that I chose.

Oak logs ready to be drilled for bee habitat.

The logs before drilling. I peeled off some of the bark so that I could get the holes deeper into the wood. Note that beetles have already made some pathways.

Drilling holes in oak log to make nesting site for native bees

Holes are about 3/4″ apart and should be at least 3″ deep.

 

Oak log with multiple holes drilled in the top for native bee habitat.

The holes are drilled in the upper portion of the log. The lower portion will be buried to mimic a rotting tree trunk.

I dug three holes in my front yard garden near the pink skullcap.  Then I buried the lower portion of the logs deep enough that they would be stable, with the holes facing Southeast.  The holes are only in the upper portion of the logs.

Oak log drilled with holes for native bees placed upright in garden near pink skullcap, Scutellaria suffrutescens

Finished log placed upright by pink skullcap, Scutellaria suffrutescens.

I’ll find out over the coming months if any bees decide to take advantage of these logs.  As an added bonus, the logs add a decorative element to the garden.

 

Zesty Lime Grilled Zucchini

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Ortolana di Faenza and Raven Zucchini

Ortolana di Faenza and Raven Zucchini

This year we are growing two new (to us) varieties of zucchini compliments of Renee’s Garden. One is a dark green zucchini ‘Raven’ and the other is a pale green heirloom Italian zucchini ‘Ortolana di Faenza’.  Both are delicious in their own way and are extremely tasty when grilled.  Here’s a recipe we tried with great success:

Recipe

4 small zucchinis – about 6-7 inches long, sliced in half lengthwise

¼ cup shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

1 batch of Lime Zest Garlic Marinade – recipe below

Preheat grill on high.

Wash, trim and dry zucchini.  Slice smaller zucchini in half lengthwise.  If using larger zucchini slice lengthwise in 3 or 4 pieces or about 3/8” to 1/2” slabs.  Spread lightly with marinade and grill, turning frequently, about every 3-4 minutes.   Brush with more marinade as needed.  When close to done spread the Parmesan cheese on top of the zucchinis, close the grill and cook until the Parmesan melts and crusts.  Total cooking time will depend on how hot your grill is and the thickness of the zucchini.  This took us less than 20 minutes.

Zucchini on the Grill

Zucchini on the Grill

Lime Zest Garlic Marinade

1 tsp. minced garlic, 2-3 cloves

Zest from 1 lime, grated or finely minced

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

½ tsp. sugar

Juice of 1 lime

½ tsp. Dijon mustard

¼ cup organic olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Using a food processor combine the garlic, parsley, lime zest and sugar and process until mixture is smooth.  Add lime juice and mustard and process again.  Slowly add the olive oil, with motor running, and process until the oil is emulsified.  Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Zukes, Cukes, Kohlrabi and Veggie Burger

Zukes, Cukes, Kohlrabi and Veggie Burger

 

Common Weeds in Strawberries

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
Strawberry Beds

Strawberry Beds

The strawberry harvest is over for this year.  There are still a few small berries in the beds, but the days of having to go out morning and night to keep up, and being able to pick quarts at a time are finished.  This year’s harvest was good.  I’ve done a reasonable job this year of keeping the beds weeded, always a difficult task.  I took some pictures of the six weeds that showed up the most this spring.  Ranked relative to occurrence and obnoxiousness, they are:

Wood sorrel - Oxalis stricta

Wood sorrel – Oxalis stricta

Oxalis or wood sorrel – Oxalis stricta – is the worst offender.  Fortunately, it can be easily weeded before it gets too large.  When small, it  is very weak rooted and the plant lifts right out with little effort.  This is one of those “good weed/bad weed” plants, bad only because it is in the wrong place.  It’s completely edible, and a useful herb in the right situation, but in my garden it’s only a royal pain.

Quickweed - galinsoga

Quickweed – galinsoga

Next on the list of bad guys in the berries is quickweed or galinsoga – Galinsoga ciliata.  Again, it’s an edible weed, but I say no thanks to eating it.  If left uncontrolled it can ruin a garden in short order.  When young, it is very shallow rooted and easy to pull by hand.

Foxtail - Alopecurus

Foxtail – Alopecurus

Foxtail – Alopecurus – There are lots of grasses that fall under the name foxtail, and I have no idea which of the many species are in my beds.  The good thing about foxtail grasses are that they are easy to weed, the whole root usually lifts right out.

Black medic - Medicago lupulina

Black medic – Medicago lupulina

Black medic – Medicago lupulinaThis clover plant sets a deep tap root very quickly.  If it isn’t weeded when small, it is difficult to get the root out. 

Crabgrass - Digitaria

Crabgrass – Digitaria

Crabgrass – Digitaria- The other grass that shows up a lot is crabgrass.  Again there are  many species, and I’m not too interested in trying to figure out which ones are in the garden.  If let go very long they set roots too tough to remove by hand pulling, but my CobraHead can rip out even the largest of them.

Ground Ivy - Glechoma hederacea

Ground Ivy – Glechoma hederacea

Ground Ivy – Glechoma hederacea – locally, this is called creeping Charlie.  It makes up a good portion of my lawn, so it’s not all bad.  In the strawberries it is very difficult to weed.  It lays down additional root clusters along its stems as it snakes across the ground.  It’s close to impossible to get it all out if it gets a head start.

I’ll go back over my two new beds again soon to try to give them another good grooming.  And they’ll still need more weeding before winter sets in, otherwise production will suffer next year.  I’m not too worried about keeping ahead on the old bed, as I’ll be ripping that out totally next spring to start a new bed in my three bed strawberry rotation.