My gardening friends began posting about all their blueberry harvests, so I decided to take Sassy over to Almost Eden for some bushes. That was extra fun. First of all, we had to wait a little, so I got to browse all the plants he had out for sale while Sassy explored the former dairy farm, now a large grassy field garnished with nursery equipment and displays.
Soon the owner came out and his little son ventured out of the house with his mother. Sassy was an instant hit with the boy, so much that he was distraught when Sassy went off to explore for a minute. They played the whole time I got tutored in blueberry production.
I learned blueberries were not as fussy as people imagine. They like soil more acidic, but the owner purposely did not do much beyond the initial planting - which include soil amendments aiming at more acid (rather than base) in the soil.
Blueberries like plenty of sun and mulch. They produce better when more than one variety is grown, like elderberries.
Roses in the Drenching Rain
We had three days of rain:
- Tuesday was all the rain we needed.
- Wednesday added another five inches of rain.
- Thursday was another day of rain - perhaps another two inches.
Some might imagine that roses loved this rain. But no, it was far too much rain, too little sunshine. I hacked the KnockOut roses in half, knowing they would rebound. Most people saw all their blooms knocked off because they were spent, plus broken canes from the winds.
A bank of KnockOut roses with petals removed is a sorry sight indeed, and I saw plenty of that.
My hybrid teas looked bedraggled too. They had broken canes and blooms pushed beyond the attractive stage. I did a lot of pruning when the sun came out on Friday. I brought in vase of only six roses.
I bought a little more bargain seed and a yellow cone flower. I have no fondness for that flower, except for beneficial insects liking it.
More on Beneficial Insects
I started reading Attracting Beneficial Insects from the last page forward. I acquired this habit when I decided the back of Time magazine had a lot of easily overlooked articles. That was long ago, and I would not accept a free subscription today.
The book emphasized how important it is to have relatively undisturbed areas, which the author calls Beetle Banks. Many beetles, like fireflies, are beneficial, and they like areas just like my wild garden. Some beetles go out and search for prey all the time, and that prey includes slugs, so I was motivated to learn more.
Sunflowers are instantly good when growing, long before they flower, because they draw insects with EFN - extra flower nectar - very early after germination. We think of nectar being the the product of flowering, yes? But many flowers produce extra sweet outlets to draw insects to them for pollination.
I have to wonder - who figured this out, God or the flowers?
That is one reason why sunflowers are a necessary foundation for helping beneficial insects do their work.
A second part is the value of undisturbed sunflower stalks and roots. In New Ulm I always left the stalks up for perches for the birds during winter. My mother objected at first, but she saw the birds use the stalks rising up through the snow.
There is value in letting the roots rot back into the soil, for compost alone, but also for sheltering the beetles. Beneficial insects overwinter in leaves left on the ground. Raking, hauling, or burning them is counter-productive. Butterfly eggs are in leaf litter too.
Often wild bees use straw-like plant remains for their nests. Garden trash is good for the garden. Pulling up the weeds and finished crops or rototilling them into the soil will undo the value of those remains during the winter - especially during that time.
Here are the top ten beneficial insects.
You do not need to be an etymologist. I certainly am not. But the saying is true - "Build a Creation garden and they will come.".