Like eating? Plant more flowers to attract bees

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Well, you know it’s that time of year, when just a small, black hole in a blanket makes you think tick. I shake garlic powder on the dogs’ food to help them repel critters. I also give them the drops, like Advantax. I have to check myself every time I come in from working on the farm.
And once you find one, you’ve got the heebie jeebies when anything touches your skin, like say, a thread. I know they must serve some purpose in our ecosystem, but I’m killing every one of those little parasites. Can you tell that I don’t care for ticks.
They can be really life threatening for dogs in the summer. Any dogs who goes outside should be checked for ticks and treated immediately. Tweezers work, then drop them into a jar with oil and screw the lid on. Hide it with the tweezers, and pull them both out when you need to.
I finally managed to get some planting done. Gawd, it felt so good. Found a petrified frog in my cucumber bed. That was interesting.  Also found a boat load of worms. My raised beds do not have much clay in them. They’re filled with a good bit of composted horse manure and Anderson County top soil, aka clay. So, they drain well and are very productive.
I have a new slogan for you to remember. It’s “Like to eat? Plant flowers.” Spread it around. There are several environmental activities, both natural and manmade, decimating our bee population. Folks, if we don’t have enough bees, we won’t eat. It’s that important. Besides, it’ll make the place look pretty.
If you just want it done in one, then find some perennials like asters, roses, sage, bee balm, salvia, coreopsis, echinacea, Sweet Williams and Mountain Blue Buttons (a perennial bachelor’s button). Some of our wildflowers, such as dandelions, goldenrod, yarrow, clover and purple vetch, also well feed the bees. Bees love them and they come back every year, just like the bees.
Flowers can act as a type of insect pesticide in your garden and it won’t kill the bees. Plant them as a border around the garden area. Marigolds are an annual, but they are the easiest for me, I just save the seed heads, year after year, and sprinkle them around the beds’ perimeters.
Annuals have to be planted every summer, but it sure does brighten the yard. My bee keeping friends Celesta and Suzanne plant flowers just for their bees. There is an amazing color difference in honey and when you buy local, you really notice it. The lightness and darkness is all dependent on what the bees ate.
Annuals that will brighten and frighten include marigolds, zinnias, dahlias and bee sage, but any flowering plant will help. Pick some out and put them in the ground. You want bees. You need bees. We all do.
Those of you who know me, know that I like to find cool ways to save money and lighten the load on our environment. Well, here’s a tip that will save you loads. Instead of using dryer sheets or fabric softener, use aluminum foil. Pull out a 12-inch piece of aluminum foil and crumple it to the size of a golf ball. Make three. Toss them in the dryer with your clothes and they’ll be soft and static free.
I’ve been using what I call my magic balls for three weeks now and I love them. The magic part is twofold.  They can disappear in your clothes and just as quickly reappear and roll all across the kitchen. When they’re as smooth as a ping-pong ball, either toss or re-crumple. Give it a try. Now, get out there, between the rains, and get something planted. Make your view of the world as colorful as you can get. No reason why your yard shouldn’t reflect your personality. Happy growing.

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News, and she can be reached via e-mail at paysteen@shelbybb.net.