What Are Nurse Logs?
by Gene E. Bush

Being a gardener in shade, I have long been fascinated by logs. I have admired them in nature since childhood. There is something about the sight of one that draws me to it for a closer look; wanting to know about its past life as well as investigate how it keeps on giving even as it takes on a new life. However, it has been only in the last 5 years or so that I have begun to bring “nurse logs” into my garden.   >> read article
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It’s All the Buzz: Basic Beekeeping
Ever considered keeping bees in your garden?
by Charlotte Ekker Wiggins

Spurred by worldwide honeybee declines, more gardeners are learning how to keep honeybees. Overuse of pesticides, diseases and disappearing habitat have all contributed to honeybees’ record losses since 2006, when historically-stable U.S. honeybee populations first plummeted.   >> read article
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Avoiding Bad Neighbors
Keep these plants away from each other
by Diane Beyer

Everyone has had an experience with a bad neighbor. There are various reasons for considering a neighbor “bad,” but most of them have an element of “chemistry” in them somewhere. Some people just don’t get along. It’s no different in the plant world. Since plants are restricted in place and not able to move away from bad or undesirable neighbors, they must employ other methods. Plant communities use chemistry to repel or subdue those that may pose a threat to a thriving population.   >> read article
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Fruit Tree Friends
by Alan Branhagen

Companion planting is the idea that certain plants attract beneficial insects and fix soil nutrients in the edible garden. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world out there; it’s a bug-eat-bug world that forms the food chain that feeds us.

Fresh fruit picked off your own trees is a hot horticultural pursuit these days. Homeowners envision delectable apples, pears, peaches, plums and cherries dripping from their trees. Well, truth be told, there’s a lot of work that goes into those beautiful fruits. Bumps and blemishes from an army of fruit tree pests are the reality of the orchardist.   >> read article
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Wasps: Garden Friends or Foes?
by Blake Layton

When most people think of wasps, they think of paper wasps, and they probably think of them only as pests because of unpleasant past encounters with these stinging insects. However, the world of wasps is much larger and more complex than this! Our gardens abound with hundreds of species of wasps that vary greatly in size and life habits. Most of the wasps in our gardens are tiny, parasitic species that do not sting people and go largely unnoticed. These are definitely friends because they help control pest insects. There is also a group of wasps known as sawflies whose larvae look like caterpillars and feed on plants. These are usually foes because they damage landscape plants. Two other groups of wasps are the social wasps, such as paper wasps, and the solitary wasps, such as mud daubers and cicada killers. Wasps in both these groups are capable of stinging, and they definitely qualify as foes when they do so, but paper wasps also have a beneficial side.   >> read article
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Creating a Bee-Friendly Herbal Oasis
by Brenda Lynn

An herb garden is an oasis of scents, textures, and flavors that add just the right zing to summer meals. But we aren’t the only ones who enjoy a burst of flavor on a hot summer day. Honeybees and other pollinators are drawn to the delicious nectar found in flowering herbs.   >> read article
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Inviting Predators
by Kristi Cook

I don’t know about where you live, but in my neck of the woods fall brings swarms of Asian lady bugs, clinging desperately to my home, vehicles, trees, kids, and even pets. They creep their way into my windows, nestle deep inside every nook and cranny, and crawl in my hair when my path crosses theirs. And while this is, at times, a bit of a nuisance, I remind myself that these little guys are simply trying to find a safe winter hideout until they can venture out again to devour any aphids brave enough to attack my garden. However, ladybugs aren’t the only pest-fighting soldiers out there. Lacewings, hover flies, and parasitic wasps are just a few of the predatory insects worth enticing to your garden.   >> read article
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Companion Plantings in the Kitchen Garden
by Carol Chernega

Gardeners consider a wide variety of factors when designing a landscape. We consider flower color, bloom time, plant height, and plants we just couldn’t resist when we visited the nursery. Over the years, we’ve also observed that certain plants do well under particular conditions. Some like shade, others sun. Most evergreens like acidic soil, whereas most vegetables and flowers like a neutral soil pH. So, we tend to group plants according to the conditions they like.

But we can also group plants in a different way. We can group them according to those that help each other in one way or another. This is called companion planting, and it can make your garden not only beautiful but also healthier.   >> read article
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