On Gardening (May 2, 2009 DIL)

by Catherine Haug

The May 2, 2009 issue of “Lawn & Garden,” a special section of the Saturday Daily Interlake, featured several gardening articles.  What follows are the highlights I gleaned from them.

Local gardening mentor:  Bill Clanton

Bill and his wife Susan operate Country Fresh Farm near Kalispell, where they raise fruits and vegetables to sell at Farmer’s Markets.  But Bill also shares his knowledge with gardeners of all ages, by giving seminars in the fall, and by employing and mentoring grade-school kids as they work in his garden during the summer. (1)

His operation “produces $25,000 in annual revenue.  Even a small garden can produce several hundred dollars worth of produce with minimal cost.” (2)

Bill’s tips

He offered a big tip for keeping deer and undesirable insects out of your garden:  a pepper spray you make at home from Habanera peppers.  One bite by a deer is all that’s needed to keep the entire herd from your plants.  Adding onion and garlic to the pepper mix will keep insects away.  Refer to “Bill Clanton: In the Garden” for more information on:

  • Pepper sprays for deer and insects;
  • Soil pH;
  • Other Soil Amendments;
  • Planting by ground temperature;
  • Watering; and
  • Weeds.

‘Lil Sprouts Kids’ Club at Swan River Gardens

“Swan River Gardens in Bigfork offers classes your youths ages 5 through 12.  These classes cover everything from building a bird house to … learning how seeds become plants. Classes are $5 each, to cover the cost of materials.  Space is limited, so classes are available on a first-come, first-served basis.  They are held on Saturdays through October.  Most classes last about 45 minutes.” (3)

Contact Swan River Gardens at 837-3375, or visit their website: www.swanrivergardens.com.

Home gardeners can help save the bees

This article from The Baltimore Sun, parallels several articles availablee on the ESP website (see below).  The loss of honeybees has been noticed not only by commercial beekeepers, but also by the backyard hobbyist.  Still, there are things you can do to help them, and native mason and bumblebees at the same time.  Dr. Jeff Pettis, research leader at the USDA’s research service bee lab in Beltsville, Md. suggests: (6) 

  • “Plant pollinator-friendly native plants and consider planting lots of a few species so bees expend less energy for a big reward.
  • Don’t use pesticides.  Even “organic” pesticides can kill bees and other pollinators [this include the natural pesticides listed on Natural Pest Control].
  • Don’t mulch every inch of your garden.  Leave some dirt exposed for the ground bees (like bumblebees), and for the mud that the Blue Orchard Mason bees need to pack their breeding tubes.
  • Don’t be too much of a garden neatnik.  Bees nest in old plant material, such as dead stalks or dead trees.
  • Purchase nest kits, which are collections of tubes that Mason bees use for laying eggs [or bee hotels/motels/condos].  Position these homes in a sheltered, sunny spot, facing east (or south).  Make sure they are safe from birds, mice or rats, which will eat the larvae.”(6)

For information about preserving the habitat of pollinators, visit the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign at www.nappc.org/.

See also other ESP articles on bees:


Natural pest control

Today’s savvy gardeners are looking for less toxic ways to control pests in the garden, lawn, and landscaping. Not only are chemical pesticides toxic to humans and pets, but also to our water sources and environment.

But you have other options.  “There’s a rapidly growing list of natural remedies for the garden and landscape — a fix for everything from poor soil and weeds, to insects and disease. Environmentally friendly materials are being developed from seaweed, soap, sand, gravel, garlic, corn, castor beans, canola oil, marigolds, trees, fish, eggs, expanded slate, landscape waste and other substances.”(5)

See Natural Pest Control for more.

Source Articles (from DIL, May 2 , 2009 issue):

  1. “Avid Kalispell gardener shares expertise,” by Lynnette Hintze, features an interview with master gardener Bill Clanton;
  2. “Peppers will take care of deer, insects:”  tips from Bill Clanton;
  3. Classes cater to kids who want to learn gardening” (at Swan River Gardens);
  4. “Floating row cover can protect plants against insects and frost,” from the Washington Post;
  5. “Giving pests a gentle push out of the family garden,” by Joel M. Lerner, special to Washington Post; and
  6. “Home gardeners can help save the bees, by Susan Reimer of The Baltimore Sun.

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