Archive | May 2012

Bumblebees

This is the time of year when caution should be taken before smelling that aromatic flower lest your nose finds a bee in it.  I’ve been so pleased to see many bees in our area this spring.  Our zucchini in particular suffered from the late arrival of bees for the last couple of summers.

Here are few interesting facts about bumblebees:                                                               

  • They have specialized “baskets” on their back legs for carrying pollen.
  • Their buzzing sound comes from the vibration of their wing muscles and not from their wings brushing against one another.
  • Some plants, like red clover, rely almost exclusively on bumblebees for pollination.

And finally, I learned this painful fact when I was about 4 years old and running around barefooted and in shorts near a small chicken house:

  • Bumblebees nest under old boards, underground mouse nests/burrows, trash heaps, or brush piles.

They are certainly a fascinating and important garden helper.

                                           

Planting Sweet Potatoes

I planted some sweet potato plants yesterday that I had ordered from Shumway’s.  I’m a newbie at planting sweet potatoes.  I tried last year, but the rabbits or groundhogs mowed them down before they had much of a chance to grow…hence the newly fortified fence around the garden.

Planting sweet potatoes is much different than planting ordinary potatoes.  They come as plants rather than seeds or sets.  The plants look a bit rugged, and the leaves can be smelly and slimy.  Just hold your nose as you plant them.

    • Make a ridge about 8-12 inches high.  The height gives the potato room to grow.
    • Make a pilot hole in the ridge with a stick or peg.
    • Insert the plant root into the hole.
    • Pour some water in the plant hole and firm up the soil around the plant.
    • Place plants 10-18 inches apart.
    • If you’re planting more than one row or ridge, keep them about 3 feet apart. These plants will spread.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed and the garden gate shut in hopes that the sweet potatoes will be a success this year.