I have never been a very good gardener, never had a green thumb. My vegetable gardens are always a hit and a miss because of fighting weeds and what nots, the what nots being pesty bugs that do my plants in. I don't like to toss insecticides on my plants.
I've been pretty busy these past couple days with tilling and running the disc with the tractor on a large section of my property so I can plant Milkweed seeds. I found two Swam Milkweed plants growing on my property. Yo would think that in 45 acres, I would find more but two is all I found. I gathered pods from them and my beekeeping friends came through and gave me some of their pods so now I have my work cut out for me. I think soon, it will be good to go ahead and plant them. I tried the cold stratification last year and put some seeds in the frig but they never came up so I thought about how Milkweed pods open up in the fall and are carried off by the wind to spread their own way. Good enough for them, good enough for me.
I think you are going to have a very interesting swarm season. Your mixture sure sounds like it will draw the scouts in without hesitation. Must give a full report on out swarm trap outcomes.
yes, I hear you with the weeds etc. I don't use chemicals either and the bloody grass will outgrow most things in vigour. It has sent me crazy and is continually frustrating. Now I grow shrubs and trees in pots until a couple of foot tall so has sufficient vigour and height to survive rabbits and out compete grass. I put dwarf trees in orchard, stupid me, dwarf rootstocks have greatly reduced vigour, and do not do well against the all enthusiastic grass, whose fibrous roots will intercept all organic matter and nutrient. So what to do??? I have planted comphrey, the permaculture wonder plant, when it is in it's growth phase will shade out plants and is working well. It is late spring here and it has just started flowering. Then I grow nasturtium in a small pot, scalp an area of grass with the lawn mower, or fork it up, and without disturbing roots plant nasturtium with a small amount of fert to kick start it. I have thrown good desirable weedy plants around- here that's coriander, who will always self seed, sweet alyssum (annual Lobelia maritima
)- also hard to keep down, and forget me nots (Myosotis alpestris
). My new favourite allium is elephant garlic, not to eat but to leave in the ground and multiply for the big sugar filled multiple flower heads that the bees love. I've inoculated clover (Australian soils do not naturally have rhizobium species to facilitate nitrogen fixation, must inoculate) On the closer to house, more frequently seen and managed sites, I fork up grass and every season fork away encroaching grass and expand the area of mulch, planting immediately, inc nitrogen fixers. Crimson clover is my favourite ornamental garden, warm season, self seeding nitrogen fixer. Anything in the brassica family- wild turnip weed, forage turnips, canola, rocket etc has high protein pollen. so that's my start of self maintaining flowering plants. Species almost as weedy as grass, but easier to control if you should wish, and that self seeds. I'm getting mobile chicken house in there this summer also. When I put the chickens through in their mobile pens, I'll successively run them through to exhaust plants metabolic energy, fork weeds out quickly, then mulch, let weed seeds germinate, chicken again, then plant green manure crop- vetch is nice and dense and can grow fava / broad beans annual rye or wheat with it ( supplement chickens), and buckwheat and a legume in warm months. Undersow, chop n drop, cycle through. that's the plan....I'll keep you updated. Basically I keep some small areas under tight control, and the rest I only whipper snip, mow to reduce fuel load ( fires) and control is light and sketchy at best. As trees and bushes grow they will create more fungally dominated soil and shade and slowly grass will lose it's advantage ( grass likes microbially dominant soil and lots of light). If you have locally flowering 'weed' or wildflower species they're probably your best bet. You are in winter now, your milkweed must be cold stratifying now?
with veg I plant lots of flowers around them to attract 'good insects' and it seems to work. Tall plants like tomatoes and beans I love to interplant with cosmos, short plants I use annuals crimson clover, alyssum, coriander (spring & autumn) & savoury. I made a veg bed out of concrete cinder blocks and the thyme, alyssum & armeria planted in the holes looks resplendent in full bloom, which it currently is. One year I put nasturtium under tomatoes and of course it went rampant, shading growth to 4 foot but the tomatoes, to my surprise, did not seem to mind at all and put a great amount of fruit anyway. Quantity-wise, you don't need much flowers to attract good predatory insects. In my experience, give or take, about 1/20 of veg growing space can be occupied by a flowering beneficial insect attractant plant. Do a search for plants that attract hoverflies is a good start for species choice. I don't mind dedicating some veg bed space because it serves my bees as well. They love their mass planted thyme and allium flowers
Good soil is also important- for pest prevention- people who load soil up with ridiculous amounts of fertilizer are not only instrumental in compromising river & water health but fill the plants leaves with nitrogen that the plant can't turn into protein, and all that useless nitrogen in leaves is like a calling card to insects. So take care of trace minerals and organic matter first, then
add your NPK- in conservative moderation. Organic matter will beget soil biology who will cycle Nitrogen and hold in upper soil levels for longer, where the plant needs it- a little N goes a long way. All our nitrogen here for veg is from composts, chook poo, nitrogen fixing plants, or pee. Yep, we don't pee to flush that much. While N is a plant nutrient needed in larger quantities ( one of the big 3, NPK), I supplement no N except for the above and I grow about 40- 60% of fresh produce that we eat (variety of plant types) quite successfully.
i have attracted no swarms.. 😪 neither have mine swarmed. I'm almost finished my new hive and they will go into that soon, will see how much room they have, haven't opened up this spring yet. We are still get cold snaps down to freezing.. it's technically summer next month. Bees certainly look productive and happy. Another wet year with no flowering eucalyptus.. everyone at bee club is feeding theirs sugar syrup but I want my bees to adapt to local conditions. (Was same last year and they didn't starve over winter then). I have just planted some *****, another eucalyptus, grevillea and more ceonothus. For their token bee garden nutrition. Coming up for planting soon are winter flowering mahonias, one more leatherwood- delicious honey (Eucriphia lucida
), Rhaphsiolepsis, Escallonias, osmanthus, and some more asters. With hollyhocks and dahlias etc. Spoilt bees. Good luck, I look forward to hearing how your milkweeds germinate and grow in the spring time.