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Garden Gleanings- Observations and hand pollinating

Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008, at 1:10 PM

Whew, the sun is not wasting any time in warming things up today. I went for my noon 'walk-about" and stared "glistening" quickly. We down sweat around here, just glisten profusely.

The pesky aphids are still annoying my tomatoes. I recently read where you can make a repellent for aphids using tomato leaves. Guess the aphids did not read it.

The lady bugs are just not keeping up. When I see a plant with a few LB's on them I don't spray my pepper/soap/oil spray as much, but come on ladies. Hustle hustle.

I am also catching a few baby caterpillars so the close up inspection has some other benefits.

No honey bees out and around. I am having to hand pollinate the zukes to get full fruit. For those who don't know about the "birds and the bees" , I will explain. For those who might be offended, look away.

Basically, we have to get the male pollen over to the female. They are easy to identify. The female flower has a baby fruit behind the flower and the male doesn't. Could it be any simpler?

Now, get a cotton swab or an artists brush. (don't use a good one, or at least ask before you grab an artist's tool)

Dab the male flower in the center to get the yellow pollen on your brush/swab then dab the center of the female flower. You can usually get enough pollen to pollinate three female flowers, but use your own judgment.

OK, now everyone can look again. I have a strip of wild flowers along the complete length of each veggie garden and have plenty of butterflies, so that helps some, but the bees really are the workhorse of the pollinating industry and they are not here. I would pay more and included benefits if they would just come to work.

I planted some flowers directly into the veggie garden and added more over the last few days. I expected more ladybugs and will try to attract more beneficials with different flowers. Here's hoping.

Now that it appears to be staying warm, I mulched all the gardens this past week. The straw I used in the past seemed to burn away within weeks, so I am using wood chips this time. I have a good supply from the trees downed lately by weather.

They use a little nitrogen from the very top of the soil as they decay, but I do not expect it to bother the veggies. If I see any deficiencies, I will use some blood meal or fish emulsion to give a direct boost. Actually, I will do that anyway.

The watercress has started to set seed pods. They can make neat additions to salads but from the soup we made yesterday, the plants have started getting too tough for that use. Maybe some watercress tea? Should be nutritious.

Anyone care to share how there garden is doing?

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

There were lots of honeybees around our house a month or so ago when the holly bushes had those tiny little white flowers.

-- Posted by bettyhbrown on Thu, May 29, 2008, at 2:55 PM

Could you put a sign in your yard Betty and point them to BB. Over the past year we have occasionally had some visitors but I don't know where they came from.

Our honey bee tree seemed to be alive again last year, but it is quiet now. I don't know if they moved or were decimated by the trachea mite.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, May 29, 2008, at 4:24 PM

I need some pollinators, too! I haven't been manually pollinating in hopes of mother nature kicking in.

My squash plants are HUGE and producing tons of squash (that are not yet ready to harvest).

My peppers and tomatoes are flowering constantly, but no produce yet. Should I manually pollinate them?

I have a lot of Marigolds planted around in the garden, but they have not flowered yet. It should be about time for them to show their pretty selves as they are growing fine.

I still have not had anything nibbling at the leaves, stems, or squash. Every once in a while, I'll find a small hole in the middle of a leaf, but it is not continuous enough for me to take action. *knocking on wood*

I have noticed something green that layers itself on the top of the soil in the garden. Mold? Mildew? Moss? Not sure, but it is dark green in color.

-- Posted by Mary on Thu, May 29, 2008, at 10:56 PM

It sounds as if your soil is staying wet or is shaded. Break the soil up a bit to keep it from caking over and see if it dries out. No standing water?

Too much shade would affect your fruiting as well. Do they get at least 6 hours of sunlight?

If the squash fruit are healthy and growing larger each day, you should be OK. If they are staying small and start to turn yellow at the ends, try pollinating.

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, May 30, 2008, at 9:02 AM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.