Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bats, Bees, and Mid-Summer Stuff


Monday, July 15, 2013

Get the Blues for Health

 It is now the Blueberry Harvest season in much of the northern areas of the USA and Canada. It's no secret that blueberries are one of the top rated native foods for health and flavor. As a native American bush, the blueberry has quite a long history both in the kitchen and in the medicine cabinet.
They are hardy bushes and can be used attractively as a hedge row in the yard or as a garden border. Why not grow your own?
For some more information and details on the medicinal benefits and how to grow blueberries, Get the Blues.

Mid Summer Harvests

Borage is a beneficial herb to have in any vegetable garden. The dazzling star blue flowers are attractive to the eye and attract many pollinators. The bees enjoy the herb so much it is often call the bee plant. It is hardy, easy to grow, and readily self sows. More details and information on Borage, Get the Blues.

The first Garlic harvest also is ready for harvest in mid-summer, from late June to mid July. The twisting scapes on the hardneck varieties of garlic are flavor and healthy. For more on the scapes, First harvest.
Garlic is usually planted in the fall, usually during October here in Northwestern PA. Check with local growers to see what grows best in your neighborhood. Many roadside stands and farmers markets will be selling garlic bulbs soon. The largest of the cloves in the bulb can be planted for a future harvest in 2014. Gardeners should be aware that the supermarket garlic is generally a softneck garlic which does not produce a scape.





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The md-summer fish kill - the bad blues

Northwestern Pennsylvania had a lot of rain during June as well as some powerful storms, one in Union City and the other in Canadohta Lake. Thankfully, there were no injuries reported in either storm.
The fish in French Creek just below the spillway at the Union City, however, were not so lucky. The rising waters of French Creek trapped hundreds of fish in a hole about 200 feet downstream from the spillway.
When the water receded, the fish died.
The picture above was taken by Brandon Ploss Canadohta Lake who was fishing the spillway area the afternoon of June 17. It is unclear if there have been previous kills in the past and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), responsible for the dam, was unaware of the kill until contacted.
Jason Bowers, the newly appointed USACE manager of the Union City Dam, said he will look into the matter after being informed on July 13.
For some more information and details on the Union City Dam, Flood Control

Political Blues at mid-summer

Last week, food stamps were removed from the 2014 Farm Bill. Food Stamps help to provide nutrition and food to many of the poor, the elderly and the sick. The action is the result of several conservative members of the US House of Representatives.
Many of these same politicians work very hard for special interest groups who don't like paying taxes and have the money and the votes to fund rich American loopholes. Many of these same conservatives preach the Bible – well, the verses they can twist that benefit their agendas. Disgusting.
Please forward a copy of the New Testament Beatitudes to your favorite Representatives.

Good Blogs to Follow



Friday, July 5, 2013

A Grin and Bear It Growing Season

 Spring 2013 was wet and rather turbulent in NW Pennsylvania. The wildflowers, however, haven't seemed to mind the soupy conditions. With the summer solstice on June 21, weather conditions haven't changed much locally. It is like everyone is in a Grin and Bear It attitude.
However, for home vegetable gardeners and commercial farms, the wet weather has created some setbacks. Some corn was not able to be planted because of the wet conditions and some farmers did switch to soy beans and other crops. In some cases, the corn fields were washed away. Very few corn fields were even knee high by the Fourth of July.
Hay, another important crop, has been growing nicely, however, it has been a chore to try and get it off the fields.
Grin and Bear IT time.
Some strawberry fields were simply just lost due to the cool, wet weather.
At home, gardeners without raised beds, are literally sinking up to their knees in mud. There is a developing problem locally with black leaf spot blight in many regions because of the wet conditions. Mulch, such as cedar or grass clippings from lawn mowing helps to control this blight, but be sure to destroy any blighted leaves. There are also copper based sprays which can be used. These sprays need to be re-applied every time it rains.
There is one bright spot in the home garden: Scaps

Like clockwork, the last week of June or so, the scapes begin to develop on the flower stock of fall planted hardneck garlic. By the end of July or thereabouts, the underground garlic bulbs will be ready to harvest.
Scapes are very tasty and are a powerhouse for health.
The odd and twisting scapes are a sign that the underground bulb is nearing maturity. Grow your own and learn more about the benefits of scaps,click Eat Healthy.


It is no secret that the honeybees, both domesticated and feral colonies, are having a tough go lately. There are mites, a mysterious disease dubbed CCD and pesticide sprays.
Nor is it any secret that the bees are essential to agriculture. Scientists claim the bees are responsible that nearly one third of the food we consume.
The bees are also essential for wildlife. The insects help to pollinated many wild nuts, wild apples and other fruits used as food by native wildlife.
Earlier this spring, at least in the NW PA regions, there was a growing concern about the lack of honeybee swarms. A swarm is a natural division of a honey bee hive. Kirk Johnson, the president of the Northwestern BeeKeepers Association was worried and concerned around Memorial Day.
However, the bees started swarming, according to Johnson, and by July 4 he had answered the normal amount of swarm calls and captured his normal amount of swarming bees.
But the recent heavy rains, according to Johnson, have washed much of the pollen and nectar needed by the bees out of many flowers.
Here's a few steps that can be taken to help these important insects, HoneyBees.

Borage is a good herb to help the bees and the vegetable/flower garden:

Get in on the buzz about borage in more detail, Good Herb.


Another valuable herb, Boneset will soon start to bloom. Once used widely before aspirin were available, it is generally used as a medicinal herb. As always, before using a home remedy, check the facts and a medical professional.The herb works wonders for me. For more information, Boneset.

Additional links to what is happening in NW PA:

 Fish Cribs

Bats in Trouble

Well, it's raining again here, Grin and Bear It,  but the water lilies seem to enjoy it.