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Your USDA Hardiness Zone

Featured Articles!

What Are Nurse Logs?

Being a gardener in shade, I have long been fascinated by logs. I have admired them in nature since childhood. There is something about the sight of one that draws me to it for a closer look; wanting to know about its past life as well as investigate how it keeps on giving even as it takes on a new life. However, it has been only in the last 5 years or so that I have begun to bring “nurse logs” into my garden.

>> read “What Are Nurse Logs?”       #Beneficials   #Environment   #Shade
It’s All the Buzz: Basic Beekeeping
Ever considered keeping bees in your garden?

Spurred by worldwide honeybee declines, more gardeners are learning how to keep honeybees. Overuse of pesticides, diseases and disappearing habitat have all contributed to honeybees’ record losses since 2006, when historically-stable U.S. honeybee populations first plummeted.

>> read “It’s All the Buzz: Basic Beekeeping”       #Beneficials   #How to   #Insects
Avoiding Bad Neighbors
Keep these plants away from each other

Everyone has had an experience with a bad neighbor. There are various reasons for considering a neighbor “bad,” but most of them have an element of “chemistry” in them somewhere. Some people just don’t get along. It’s no different in the plant world. Since plants are restricted in place and not able to move away from bad or undesirable neighbors, they must employ other methods. Plant communities use chemistry to repel or subdue those that may pose a threat to a thriving population.

>> read “Avoiding Bad Neighbors”       #Advice   #Beneficials   #Vegetables
Fruit Tree Friends

Companion planting is the idea that certain plants attract beneficial insects and fix soil nutrients in the edible garden. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world out there; it’s a bug-eat-bug world that forms the food chain that feeds us.

Fresh fruit picked off your own trees is a hot horticultural pursuit these days. Homeowners envision delectable apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherries dripping from their trees. Well, truth be told, there’s a lot of work that goes into those beautiful fruits. Bumps and blemishes from an army of fruit tree pests are the reality of the orchardist.

>> read “Fruit Tree Friends”       #Beneficials   #Fruit   #Trees
Wasps: Garden Friends or Foes?

When most people think of wasps, they think of paper wasps, and they probably think of them only as pests because of unpleasant past encounters with these stinging insects. However, the world of wasps is much larger and more complex than this! Our gardens abound with hundreds of species of wasps that vary greatly in size and life habits. Most of the wasps in our gardens are tiny, parasitic species that do not sting people and go largely unnoticed. These are definitely friends because they help control pest insects. There is also a group of wasps known as sawflies whose larvae look like caterpillars and feed on plants. These are usually foes because they damage landscape plants. Two other groups of wasps are the social wasps, such as paper wasps, and the solitary wasps, such as mud daubers and cicada killers. Wasps in both these groups are capable of stinging, and they definitely qualify as foes when they do so, but paper wasps also have a beneficial side.

>> read “Wasps: Garden Friends or Foes?”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Pests
Creating a Bee-Friendly Herbal Oasis

An herb garden is an oasis of scents, textures, and flavors that add just the right zing to summer meals. But we aren’t the only ones who enjoy a burst of flavor on a hot summer day. Honeybees and other pollinators are drawn to the delicious nectar found in flowering herbs.

>> read “Creating a Bee-Friendly Herbal Oasis”       #Beneficials   #Herbs   #Insects
Inviting Predators

I don’t know about where you live, but in my neck of the woods fall brings swarms of Asian lady bugs, clinging desperately to my home, vehicles, trees, kids, and even pets. They creep their way into my windows, nestle deep inside every nook and cranny, and crawl in my hair when my path crosses theirs. And while this is, at times, a bit of a nuisance, I remind myself that these little guys are simply trying to find a safe winter hideout until they can venture out again to devour any aphids brave enough to attack my garden. However, ladybugs aren’t the only pest-fighting soldiers out there. Lacewings, hover flies, and parasitic wasps are just a few of the predatory insects worth enticing to your garden.

>> read “Inviting Predators”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Pests
Natural Repellant

It’s summer, and that means war … on mosquitos! In 2014 Bill Gates called the mosquito “The Deadliest Animal in the World.” They carry a host of debilitating and often fatal diseases. Yes, we can douse ourselves with chemicals, light some incense, or plug in the bug zapper … but rumor has it that plants can also keep mosquitos at bay. The essential oils in some plants and flowers have been said to repel mosquitos, while you should not rely on plants alone to protect you from mosquito bites, you may want to include a few in your landscape or garden.

>> read “Natural Repellant”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Pests
Welcoming Butterflies

Whatever the size of your garden, you can add excitement and wonder by welcoming beautiful, delicate members of the Lepidoptera family to share your little plot of heaven on earth.

Despite their freewheeling, frivolous demeanor, butterflies follow a deliberate and complex regimen in their day-to-day doings. Their life-cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult (butterfly), each stage requiring specific food and environments ...

>> read “Welcoming Butterflies”       #Beneficials   #Insects
Surprising Pollinators

Helping pollinators is a hot gardening trend right now (dare we say there’s a “lot of buzz”?). Initiatives such as the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge are bringing attention to the need to create habitats for at-risk pollinators such as monarch butterflies and honeybees. But many other species – including some surprising ones like flies, moths, and hummingbirds – also act as pollinators, and also need our help.

>> read “Surprising Pollinators”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Unusual
The Trouble With Honey Bees

If you have paid attention to the news media over the past few years, you probably know honey bees are having problems. One of the most widely publicized is a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, or CCD. This problem, which causes entire colonies of bees to die suddenly and mysteriously, was first recognized in the U.S. in 2006. But CCD is just one of a series of new problems to affect U.S. honey bees over the last 30 years.

>> read “The Trouble With Honey Bees”       #Beneficials   #Disease   #Insects
In Defense of Spiders

Spiders are perhaps some of the most feared and misunderstood inhabitants of any garden. Quickly squashed into “bug juice” without a moment’s hesitation, these beneficials rarely find safe refuge in their garden homes. Yet, despite their fearsome reputations, wise gardeners learn to appreciate these hungry monsters as they go about their daily business patrolling for pests such as mosquitos, flies, aphids, and leafhoppers. Knowing how to live side by side in harmony is a simple matter of understanding what makes them tick – or twitch.

>> read “In Defense of Spiders”       #Beneficials   #Insects   #Wildlife