Heirloom tomatoes were the cornerstone of the group’s very first plant sale. Since then, NCMGVA has increased the number of heirloom choices and added a few of their favorite hybrid varieties. The tomato and pepper plants are started from seed and grown by volunteers specifically for the sale.
Though hundreds of the plants will be at the sale, they tend to sell out quickly and gardeners are advised to go early for the best selection. The sale begins at 8 a.m. at the Spooner Ag Research Station on Hwy 70 east of Spooner and runs until the plants are sold out.
The proceeds go toward supporting the Teaching and Display Garden that is open to the public on Orchard Lane, just east of the Ag Research Station; for garden-related grants; for promoting horticulture outreach and education in Sawyer, Washburn, and Burnett counties; and other horticultural projects.
“According to Kevin Schoessow, Area UW-Extension Agriculture Development Educator and advisor to NCMGVA, Master Gardener volunteers come together from many backgrounds.” They find common ground in their appreciation for growing plants, whether edible or ornamental. They are trained volunteers who assist the University of Wisconsin-Extension staff by helping people in the community better understand horticulture and the environment, and they donate thousands of hours’ worth of their time each year toward that end.
Additions to the Pollinator Six Pack ~ Continue to Feed the Bees ~
Why Have a Pollinator Garden?
Butterflies, bees and other insects are attracted to flowers in search of nectar. They brush up against the anthers of a flower, get pollen grains on their body and carry the pollen from flower to flower. A Pollinator Garden is a garden predominately with flowers that provide nectar or pollen for a range of pollinating insects. A pollinator garden can be any size. You might only have a balcony or a small yard, but you can still plant a pollinator friendly flowers there.
Ox Eye Sunflower and Purple Coneflower will be new additions to our Pollinator Six Pack.
Annual Plant Sale sponsored by North Country Master Gardener Volunteers, Saturday, May 18, 8:00 -11:00am (or until plants last) at the Station Building, 1035 E. Maple Street (Hwy 70). For sale: Heirloom Tomatoes, Peppers, Natives, Herbs, and Cannas
Carla TePaske ~ NCMGV
by: Katie Childs, UW-Extension Master Gardener Volunteer
The sap is running and the bees are buzzing...A big cheer for Spring as many of us have suffered from snow and cold fatigue. However, I have some good news to share about the beehives on Golden Pond. Let me bring you up to speed with a bit of a review…
Last November I ‘blogged’ about “Project Honey,” an experimental operation whereby in May, a beekeeper installed a couple of hives near my Gardens on Golden Pond. The colonies not only survived, but thrived near an oasis of perennial beds, along with vegetable and fruit gardens, in an extreme woodsy environment. Over Labor Day, it was
time to harvest the honey from the hives; the process taking several hours, resulted in an abundance of liquid gold!
With the temperature dipping in the fall, the hives were prepped for winter readiness. Along with a honey reserve and protein packs to supplement their winter nourishment, each hive was bound securely with an insulated Mylar type wrap, foam insulation and duct tape. With the temperature falling to beyond minus 30 degrees at times, this
method proved to be sufficient to help maintain the hive temperature during the exceedingly harsh winter months.
Along with the outer protection, the bees had to do their part as well.
Let me explain - the worker bees form a “cluster” surrounding the queen to keep her warm and safe. With thousands of bees shivering and vibrating their wing muscles they can maintain the cluster temperature as follows: the optimal core temp in winter time is 95 degrees; 81 degrees is the average observed in the inside, while 48 degrees is the average temperature for a cluster exterior shell. Who knew, in the winter the workers insulate - in the summer they are a cooling agent.
While the calendar says its spring, our garden scapes and woods may be still covered with snow. However, with the melting well underway, we will soon be checking for daffodils, crocus and tulips popping up. On March 22 the temperature rose to 50 degrees and much to my surprise, I heard a buzzing in a very sunny protected spot a short
distance from the hives. I soon had a confirmation that a honey bee was out and about. On the 23rd - again a warm and calm day - dozens of ‘scout’ bees were seeking pollen and nectar, albeit a bit early. Had they been successful, they would return to the hive and ‘dance’ on the honeycomb. The beekeeper came by to examine the hives and I am happy to report he was pleased at the colonies survival rate and overall hive condition. We are optimistically looking forward to another season of ‘cohabiting’ with honey bees at Gardens on Golden Pond!
HONEY BEE FUN FACTS
FEED THE BEES PLEASE!
Photo Credit: Carla TePaske
California is experiencing a fabulous Spring! California received rain, wonderful rain to make everything grow.
With that the painted ladies enjoyed a fantastic early season.
Do you remember Wisconsin's Autumn of 2017? We also had painted ladies visit our gardens as they took a break during the migration.
Continue to read on about the current butterfly news happening in California and some Wisconsin butterfly history.
Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexican border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, is the reason for the unusually large swarms. The rain caused plants to thrive, giving the painted lady caterpillars plenty of food to fuel their transformation, said Arthur M. Shapiro, a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.
Source ~ The New York Times ~ click here to read more
An unusually wet winter in Southern California has given way to a super bloom of wildflowers and an explosion of Painted Lady butterflies.
The black and orange insects usually keep a low profile as they make their annual migration from the deserts of western Mexico to their breeding grounds in the Pacific Northwest. But this year, they're hard to miss. Scientists say that extra plant growth has allowed their population to boom into the millions.
Source ~ WBUR ~ Click here to read more
September of 2017 Wisconsin was blessed with a similar event. Our mild spring weather allowed for an early northward migration. In 2017 Painted Ladies were spotted in Iowa as early as March 10th, which is earlier than normal. With such an early arrival, the butterflies were able to have two generations instead of just one.
For us Wisconsinites, the abundance of butterflies would not be visible to us, because they typically migrate at an elevation several thousand feet in the air to take advantage of favorable wind currents. Using the wind they can travel up to 100 miles a day, and reach speeds of nearly 30 miles per hour. September of 2017, Wisconsin had strong southern weather flow that brought the Painted Ladies down. It is not efficient for a tiny butterfly to try and fly against the wind, so they took a break and were busy refueling on Autumn flowers such as goldenrod, asters, zinnia and sunflowers. It truly was a magical September for Wisconsin and I am sure that is how California folks are feeling this Spring!
Carla TePaske, NCMGV
Above photo credit: Sue Reinardy
Spring is on the way! Many of us are already starting to plan our garden projects for the 2019 season. Once again the North Country Master Gardeners will be having a plant sale. The sale will be offering many new items. We will have two new pollinators to add to your pollinator garden. New varieties of tomatoes, peppers and a herb six pack!
North Country Master Gardener Volunteers Annual Plant Sale, Saturday, May 18, 8:00 to 11:00 (or until plants last) at the Station Building, 1035 E Maple Street (Hwy 70), Spooner. Offerings include: Heirloom Tomatoes, Peppers, Natives, Herbs, and Cannas
Additions to the Pollinator Six Pack ~ Continue to Feed the Bees ~ the Ox Eye Sunflower and Purple Coneflower will be new additions to our Pollinator Six Pack.
Ox Eye Sunflower
Produces huge quantities of brilliant yellow - orange flowers from June to September. Very easy to grow. Seeds are great for the birds. Grows 2 - 5' tall. Self - sows, does not spread by rhizomes. Hardy to zone 4.
One of the best for attracting butterflies and birds, this showy and easy to grow cone flower adds a flashy touch to the late - summer garden. Grows 3 - 4' tall. Perennial ~ Hardy to zone 4.
Above photo credit: Katie Childs
Carla TePaske, North Country MGV
The worker bees have a tiring and dangerous job laboring from sunrise to sunset with a lifespan of about six weeks. Based on their productivity, periodically additional components called ‘supers’ were added to the hives to ensure their high rise had adequate frames for construction of combs and honey yield. Each super holds ten frames where the bees create mass hexagonal prismatic wax cells to store their honey.
Labor Day weekend the beekeeper was as busy as the bees! As the photos indicate, it was time to harvest the excess honey. The process was as follows: first, the frames were removed; followed by scraping the honeycombs; third, the extraction process took place through centrifugal force in a barrel and the finale -the jars were filled with liquid gold!
Since the harvest, the bees have continued to produce more honey, which is their food source, for the winter months ahead. In October, the bees began receiving an additional sugar syrup supplement along with protein patties. Also, with a hard freeze and bitter cold fast approaching, the hives got a very techie “spaceship” look. They have been cloaked in an aluminum flexiwrap -similar to what is used in outer space - that is ¼” thick and has a R-6 value. Also a vapor board has been placed on the top of each hive along with a one inch styrofoam section on the bottom to ward off drafts. Along with all the protective layers, the thousands of bees in each hive must do their part as well. The “heater bees verses the housekeeping bees” maintain the warmth in the hives by shivering or vibrating their flight muscles, raising their body temperature thus elevating the surrounding air by several degrees. Note, it has been a common practice for some apiarists to transport their bees in the hives to warmer climates over winter, to continue pollination of other crops such as the California almond groves.
It is a fact, nature is not an exact science. However, optimism remains for the honeybees who buzzed around the Gardens on Golden Pond to be the official greeters next Spring in search of tulips and daffodils!
For more information, please refer to wihoney.org; abfnet.org (American Bee Federation) and pollinator.org. Also plan a visit to the new Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska next year. It is the first building in a planned “farm to table” campus where the buzz is all about the bees!
“The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.”
2018 Upper Midwest Regional Master Gardener State Conference note highlights from Donna Amidon, MGV
Session: Pollinator Friendly Gardening. Rhonda Fleming Hayes (Author of Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening for Bees, Butterflies and other Pollinators, writer for Star Tribune, Northern Gardener magazine and other publications).
There is a growing body of evidence that supports mixing native and non-native plants in designed landscapes benefits pollinators. Bees do like non-native plants in addition to natives but some cultivars may have less pollen or other changes that are less desirable to pollinators. Bees love flowers with multiple florets for foraging and then they do not have to fly around so much to collect pollen and nectar. Herb gardens can be attractive to pollinators if you let some go to flowering stage. Other beneficial insects also love the flowers.
*Keep “flower buffet” open throughout the whole season for pollinators with a continuous succession of flowering plants.
* There are almost 500 documented species of native bees in Wisconsin.
* Bees are rarely aggressive but yellowjackets and wasps can be aggressive.
* Honey bees are highly social in their hives but native bees tend to be solitary and mostly nest in the ground or cavities in trees or logs.
* Tree pollination: most Midwestern trees are wind pollinated such as elm, oak, ash, birch, maple, and shrubs such as hazelnuts. Some trees and shrubs that have showy flowers in spring can attract pollinators, including red maple, black cherry, American basswood, service berry, dogwood, chokecherry, wild plum, pussy willow, and sumac.
* Suggestions for attracting more pollinators are: leave some bare soil for ground nesting bees in the garden; rather than using wood mulch consider leaving the leaf litter on the ground in fall and consider it “mulch” throughout the year (some bees can nest in the leaf debris); do not cut back stems on all plants in the fall , leaving them up for bees to nest in over the winter and then cut back later in the spring to about 12-15 inches high; have some old logs on the ground in or near the garden for nesting .
Contact information for Heather Holm:
Website is PollinatorsNativePlants.com
New book out: An Identification and Native Plant Foraging Guide
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