Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Late Season Veggies

The gardening season is almost over and all that remains to be done is harvesting, a bit of weeding, and putting the garden to rest, right?

Not so fast!

Most of the same vegetables that you planted in the spring are also happy in the cool autumn weather. So go over your list for your March and April plantings and most of them that mature with out a lot of fussiness will be good for planting mid August.

Here is a quick list:

Swiss chard
Mustard greens

Have fun with your fall garden!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Saving Bees with a Bee Feeding Guild

A honeybee on an ornamental crabapple.

When the subject of bees comes up with my friends many of them are worried. Often they talk about becoming beekeepers as a way to help. While I try not to discourage beekeeping in general, in these cases I encourage them to think of other ways to help the bees first. I always recommend that they cut back on or quit using pesticides, ask them to read books about bees and beekeeping, and I ask them to grow more plants for bees.

While any plant with a flower is an improvement, not all of them are great for helping the bees. This is a list I put together to provide lots of bee food on a quarter acre lot. I focused very heavily on late summer blooms because that is when the bees in my area struggle the most to find food. I highlighted those plants, so if you are limited on space you can focus on those first.

This is only one set of plants I could have used, so feel free to study and come up with your own bee guild (community) that meets the needs of where you live. And remember to plant in groups so that clusters of the same plants are at lease three feet across. The bees will find them easier that way.

Oh, this plan leaves enough space for a veggie garden and some grass. The clover is on the list to make the grass more bee friendly!

Enjoy yourselves, manana!

Common Name Scientific Name Start of flowering  End of flowering Width
Bigtooth Maple Acer gandidentatum April May  25'
Peach Prunus persica April April 18'
Apple Malus domestica April May 25'
Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia May June 30'
Linden 'Green Spire' Tilia cordata June July 30'
Shubs and Perennials
Fragrant Sumac 'Lowgrow' Rhus aromatica April May 6'
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale April May 6"
Blackberry Rubus spp. May June As pruned
Chives Allium schoenoprasum May June 10"
Woodland Sage Salvia nemorosa May July 18"
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia June July 3'
Red-Flowering Thyme Thymus praecox June July Creeping
Catmint Nepeta x faassenii June August 18"
Melissa, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis June August 18"
Fireweed Epilobium angustifolium June September 3'
Oregano Origanum vulgare June September 2'
Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea June September 2'
Milkweed Asclepias spp.  July August 2.5'
Peppermint Mentha piperita July August 3'
Russian Sage Perovskia atriplicifolia July September 4'
Bluebeard Caryopteris x clandonensis July September 4'
Blanket Flower Gaillardia aristata June October 10"
Anise hyssop Agstache foeniculum July October 3'
Garlic chives Allium tuberosa September September 12"
Stonecrop Sedum spectabile September September 12"
Aster Aster spp. September October 2'
Goldenrod Solidago spp. September October 4'
Lawn Addition
Dutch White Clover Trifolium repens May August Creeping

Friday, April 4, 2014

April Classes and Events 2014

Hall's Hardy almond in Highland, Utah 2013.

Mills Park Clean Up
April 12 at Mills Park (by Taco Bell on Second West) in Provo
10:00am, all day long!

  • Help Provo City residents take care of a forgotten historic site.
  • Learn about local history from neighbors.

Fruit Tree Care Workshop
April 19 at Pioneer Book in Provo
3:00 to 6:00
$15 early $20 at the door.

  • Organic pest control.
  • Keys to quality fruit.
  • Basic pruning and thinning.

Eco Garden Fundamentals (Permaculture Fundamentals)
April 24 at Pioneer Book in Provo
3:00 to 6:00

  • Learn what it takes to care for the environment and people.
  • Start your brain working in different ways.
  • Learn to look at your yard as an integral part of your life and health. 

For more information and to register email Alex Grover at:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

If you really want to help honey bees...

I have been seeing bees for over a month now. They have been gathering pollen from the early blooming trees: maple, elm, poplar, and willow. Pollen provides protein for growing bee larva, but does not provide energy for flying bees. Early in the season, that still comes from the sugar stored as honey.

Some of the early bulbs give a little nectar and I am sure the bees manage to find a bit here and there in the wild. The most important time for nectar is when the dandelions start blooming. Dandelions are rich in pollen, but they are also rich in early nectar. This early nectar helps honey bees fuel long flights while searching for later nectar flows, as well as fuel the growth of spring bee populations.

Dandelions are also markers for when the fruit trees and other early bloomers start producing. But you should never forget that dandelions are a major source of bee energy all by themselves.

If you care about bees, stop killing dandelions!

Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 Dormant Oil Spraying

It is too late to spray this apple.

The apricots are now blooming, so it is too late to do a dormant spray on them. But you can still treat your apples, peaches and nectarines, and pears.

If you had problems with any of these pests last year you can use organic dormant oil on them right now:

  • Aphids
  • Blister mites
  • Brown mites
  • Peach twig borer
  • Pear psylla
  • San Jose scale
Check the oil before you buy it to make sure it is listed as organic. Then mix 5 tablespoons of oil per 1 gallon water and shake it well. Oil is not a "poison," so you need to spray the tree heavily enough that the oil can plug up the breathing holes on the pests. This happens when the entire tree is dripping after being sprayed.

Temperatures should be between 50 and 70 degrees when you spray, and should not go below freezing in the 24 hours after spraying.

Start spraying right now, but you need to stop as soon as your:
  • Apples have buds that are half green.
  • Pears have a cluster of smaller buds bursting through the main bud.
  • Peaches and nectarines show pink through the bud.
Dormant spraying does not help with codling moths or greater peach tree borer.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

March Classes from USG

March class schedule:
Seed Swap
1 Saturday 3-6pm
  • Come share your seeds and meet other gardeners from Utah County!

Eco-garden Fundamentals (Permaculture Fundamentals)
8 Saturday 3-6pm
  • Learn how to think nature friendly in the garden.

Cool Weather Planting
15 Saturday 3-6pm
$20 at the door, Early registration only $15
  • Hands on gardening for March planting, including lists of what to plant and when to plant it.

Fruit Tree Care
Rescheduled for April
  • Pest control, thinning, and other tips for good fruit on your trees.

Building the Plant Community (Plant Guilds)
29 Saturday 3-6 pm
$20 at the door, Early registration only $15
  • How to blend plants in the same beds so they help each other and make your life better.

For more information contact Alex Grover at:

All events happening at Pioneer Book in downtown Provo.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Talking about pruning and trees with Brian Brinkerhoff

My talk on pruning and trees with Brian Brinkerhoff of Western Life Radio at the 24:30 mark.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sustainable Gardening Presentation at Utah Valley Earth Forum

Alex Grover, of Utah Sustainable Gardening, will lead the discussion on how we can reduce pollution, improve our nutrition and have "the best looking yard on the block" with earth-friendly, sustainable gardening (permaculture). Alex earned a BS in Urban Horticulture from BYU. Refreshments provided. See our Green Events Calendar at http://uvef.us/ for more details.

Wednesday, January 15th, Provo Library, Room 201, 7 PM.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Pruning Safety

Self inflicted damage from fruit tree pruning
in 2012.
Most of the pruning saws now sold are the Japanese or "razor" style. These cut quick and easy and save a lot of time and effort when pruning. Unfortunately they cut human flesh even more easily. Here are some safety tips for pruning with a saw around the home.

  1. Wear gloves. Some pros choose not to wear them when climbing because they need a reliable grip, but a home owner isn't going to climb that aggressively.
  2. Always be aware of what your saw is cutting into and anything else that is near its edge. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is easy to lose track of it when you get moving.
  3. Be more careful when you wear gloves. Gloves can save cut down on damage if you slip, but a sharp saw will still go through gloves and sloppy pruning will increase the damage.
  4. Make sure you have good footing. Whether you are on the ground, on a ladder, or on a branch, if you slip you are in danger of a nasty cut.
Be safe and remember that pruning can be good for your tree and fun, but only if you are not hurt in the process.