Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mason Bee "Condo", Pallet Decking and Other Happenings

As you may recall, back in February I received a mason bee block and waited expectantly for the bees to emerge.  Well they emerged and reused the empty cells in the bee block to lay new eggs, but I decided that the few bees that the bee block can produce aren't enough, so I spent some time working out a plan to produce more bees.  Today I put that plan into action, buying a pine 4" x 4" x 8' and cutting it into pieces that fit neatly into the triangular space above the door to my Tuff Shed, a total of five so far.  I developed a grid on my computer to space out where to drill holes into the blocks, then printed it out.  I used a tack hammer and a small nail to make pilot holes to mark each location where I needed to drill.  I taped a "stop guide" on the drill bit so I wouldn't drill more than 3" deep, so as not to drill all the way through the block.  A few hours later, I had the bee blocks drilled and hung to form a "Mason Bee Condo" that by my estimate can accomodate just over 1800 bees.  It may take a few years before every cell is occupied, but when that time comes, there's still room to add more "units" to the condo, with maximum occupancy estimated at nearly 5000 bees, enough to pollinate the entire neighborhood.

Mason bee condo waiting for occupants.

In my last post, I noted that I'd gotten a load of pallets and would be using them as decking in the back yard and for paths between the raised beds; yesterday I placed one of the pallets down next to the one done in April.  Since there weren't enough cross members to be able to walk on it without falling through, let alone place any plants on them, the pallet required modification.  I got a supply of additional boards at the same time as the pallets, so I just needed to screw them down and trim them to the right length.

The new pallet has boards that are more tightly spaced and easier to place plants on.

The Aunt Ruby's German Green and Roma tomatoes have set fruit, three more glads have bloomed, as has the Climbing Pink Peace rose and the sunflower seeds are almost ready to harvest.

Aunt Ruby's German Green


Gladiolus 'Superstar'

Gladiolus 'My Love'

Gladilous 'Flowersong'

Climbing Pink Peace; note where the leaf cutter bees have been active.

Sunflower seeds almost ready to be harvested.

Last year I planted some ginger that I bought at a local oriental market and one piece grew, but recently it died, so I bought some more and there are three shoots coming up, so hopefully this year I'll get some healthy plants for my efforts.

Ginger shoots.

Lastly, this year I've been proactively spraying the grapes with Bt to hopefully stave off an onslaught of grapeleaf skeletonizer moths, and while it hasn't completely rid the vines of the caterpillars, they have been much fewer that years past and any that do show up die within a day or two of being sprayed with more Bt.

These died soon after being sprayed with BT.

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