27 July 2007

Garden Update, Pollinators, Hoola Hoop Tricks, and A Possible Use for Old Corn Water

This time of year harkens back to the two-a-day regiment of high school football practice. I hated the first session, not because I had to get up early, but because of the dew dampened grass. No worse way to start the day than to lay down in wet grass for 20 minutes of stretching. To this day I hate to go out in the garden in the morning, I wait till midday or after dinner.

Yesterday I spent some time supporting the Mortage Lifters, mine are about four feet right now, dad once grew one 18 feet tall (no foolin'). This year I can not get over how well the Amish Paste Tomatoes are doing, they are crazy. The row of potatoes are doing well too, as is the celery. Here are some pictures (again blogger wont lemme flip the pictures, bother):Here is a picture of #1's and #2's flower garden
This is also a great year for blackberries, we spent a good half hour filling up a gallon and a half bucket of 'em. This is a good time to talk about the differences between southern and northern gardening. In the south you can plant earlier but you have all kinds of bugs. In the north you plant later but no bugs (five years of planting potatoes and no bugs). In the south if you went to pick blackberries you have to watch out for snakes. In the north snakes are around but rarely, if ever, seen. After five years of living here I've only encountered one snake.You've probably by now read or heard something about the collapsing honey bee population. In the west the circumstances of a declining honey bee population are severe, primarily due to the dependence of almond tree pollination. Here in the northeast folk aren't too worried. Why? The region has an abundance of native pollinators. Perhaps the best pollinator for crops and flowers is the bumble bee. I read recently how beneficial they are for tomatoes. They pollinate primarily by the vibration when they buzz from bloom to bloom, whereas honeybees pollinate by collecting pollen on their two hind legs. The other day while digging in the big dirt pile behind the parsonage I noticed a bumble bee or two, a closer look revealed a nest. You can't see 'em but trust me this cave looking hole is an active bumble bee nest.For #2's birthday the wife thought it would be fun to but hoola hoops and play some hoola hoop games.A couple of days after the party we went outside after dinner and performed hoola hoop tricks. We twisted at the waist, we twisted on our neck and arms, I even did the one foot kick, hop and twist. The wife had so much fun she suggested that we form a family act and perform at the next outdoor concert at the church.

Finally, by late July and August yellow jackets have established thriving populations. I have left one nest in front of our house continue for sometime. I wanted to see how the nest developed. But I've had enough of them getting after me when I mow, so I disposed of them. But I fretted over how to do it. I didnt want to use a chemical spray (that would kill the flowers beneath the nest). I tried a vinegar spray, but they can fly quicker than I can squirt. I tried smoking them with my honeybee smoker, but this got them really ticked off. Bees like to have a constant environment with little as possible disturbance from the elements, I could manipulate their surroundings but that was too much work.

A solution: my neighbor proposed hot water. Last night we had our first corn of the year. As I cleaned up the kitchen I looked at this large stockpot of corn infused water and the light bulb went off. I brought it up to a boil and dumped on the nest, instant disposal. This was a relatively small nest, so it did the trick. I wouldn't advise doing this if you have a large in-ground nest.

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