Saturday, April 25, 2015

Those dirty worms make the garden better

1. To start a worm farm, get a wooden container that has holes. Small holes can be drilled into the container, but not big enough for escapees. Plastic containers aren't a good choice because they keep the worm farm too wet. You also need a lid to keep the rain out.
2. Add bedding material like dead plants, leaves and/or newspaper clippings and some soil.
3. Add green material like household fruit and vegetable scraps and egg shells.
4. Just add worms. You can dig them up in your yard. (A great place to find worms is under dead wood in moist areas. Don't dig them up from the garden though, leave those there. If all else fails, you can buy them at various places. The best composting worms are Red Wigglers, according to several reports. I saw Gurney's is selling them in their garden catalog.
5. Periodically, add more bedding material and scraps.
This article tells all about worm composting: www.professorshouse.com/Your-Home/Gardening-Plants/General/Articles/What-Do-Worms-Eat/

Having worms in the garden has many benefits, such as aerating the soil to allow better water flow and breaking down organic matter. For composting outside the garden, the benefit of worms is in their excrement. But if you don't want to compost with worms, there's a Waterford man who has bagged worm waste for purchase at Walmart. His company is called Earthworm Castings Unlimited and the product is Earthworm Castings Soil Enricher.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Attracting butterflies and bees

I was reading about flower and plant selection for the yard. I don't usually spend much time on non food-producing plants, because it seems like a waste of money and time.
But with the Colony Collapse Disorder affecting bees,  it's a good idea to plant flowers that attract pollinators to improve the success of crops and increase the local bee and butterfly population.
Common flowers that are attractive to pollinators are poppy, lupine, viola, wallflower, black-eyed Susan, Butterfly flower, Calendula, Dahlia, Amaranth, Marigold, Salvia, Sunflower, Zinnia, Portulaca, Lavender, Foxglove, Cosmos, Coneflower and Echinacea.
Anybody who has run barefoot in a yard knows that clover attracts bees. It is a great ground cover plant too.
Garden plants that are highly attractive to bees and butterflies include parsley, cilantro, thyme, dill, basil, chives, peas, squash and pumpkin. So I will plant as much of these as I can. Here's a link about growing a pollinator garden reneesgarden.com/articles/pollinators-hgsa.pdf/

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Upcoming gardening activities

• Ugly garden sweater themed, Ladies Night Out event is 6-9 p.m. April 17 at Heavenly Scent Herb Farm, 13730 White Lake Road, Fenton, free event, 810-629-9208, www.heavenlyscentherbfarm.com.
• The Raising Rochester 3rd Annual Big Build is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. April 18 and noon-5 p.m. April 19 at the City of Rochester Hills Department of Public Services facility, 511 Auburn Road, Rochester. At the Big Build, they will build new raised beds and kits, email RaisingRochester@comcast.net.
• Invasive Plant Workdays is 2-4 p.m. April 19 and April 22, plus future dates through May at Seven Ponds Nature Center, 3854 Crawford Road, Dryden, 810-796-3200.
• Community Garden Sites are available for seniors, 50+ at the Troy Farm at Beach Road and South Blvd., in Troy. Plots measure approximately 20’ x 20’ and are limited to one per household. The ground is tilled and water is provided. The fee is $70, NR $80. Gardens are available for planting beginning May 1. Call the Troy Recreation Department at 248-524-3484. https://www.troymi.gov/PlayHere/Outdoor/Recreation

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Finding the right seed and planting time

There are many different types of seeds available. Not only are there different varieties of the same plant, there are different ways the seeds are produced. There are cultivar (cultivated variety which can be a hybrid or open-pollinated); genetically engineered; genetically modified; open-pollinated; hybrid; heirloom and of course organic. For more information on this, visit www.ezfromseed.org/.

Here's some of the top seed and nursery catalog companies:
www.gurneys.com seed and nursery
www.seedsavers.org nonprofit heirloom seeds
www.burpee.com since 1881 seed and nursery
www.jungseed.com since 1907

In Southeast Michigan, it is time, actually past time, to plant peas, potatoes, lettuce, onions, radishes and parsley, and of course the greens: spinach, Swiss chard, kale, etc... 
The plants aforementioned can actually be planted outside as soon as the ground is workable, usually in mid-March, this year it was late March.
Broccoli, cabbage, celery, kahlrabi, Brussels spouts and cauliflower plants can be planted outside at this time.
But it's best to wait until mid-May to plant beans and squash seeds outside.
Then, wait until late May to plant the eggplant, peppers and tomato plants. It seems if you put these plants outside while it's still cold, the plants will grow slowly until it warms up and be wimpy, defeating the early planting.