Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Buzz about Pollinators

You may think pollinators are just bees when in fact pollinators are butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, birds, bats, small mammals and lastly but most important are bees. 

Why are bees so important, particularly honey bees?

  • Honey bees are responsible for 1.2 to 5.4 billion dollars in agriculture productivity in the US according to Pollinator Partnership.
  • A honey bee worker can produce up to 1/12 a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.
  • The Queen honey bee lays up to 1,500 eggs per day or up to 1 million in her lifetime which is 3-4 years.
  • A worker bee who collects pollen may only live three weeks because they visit 50-100 flowers in one trip or up to 2,000 flowers in a day.  During drought years when plants are struggling and may not produce as many flowers, bees have less of a resource to sustain them.
                  Picture by Brian Talamantes,CSU Weed & Agronomy Agent

According to Pollinator Partnership about 75 to 95% of plants need help with pollination, the following are items recommended by the Xerces Society and Pollinator Partnership for the role you play in helping pollinators:

  1. Create natural habitat areas by agricultural farms, urban agriculture and community gardens all will increase their yield.
  2. Plant the right plants and create a diversity of bloom with some areas of habitat for native bees for nesting.  These include brush piles, old tree stumps and open sandy ground.
  3. Stop the use of both organic and non-organic insecticides because both can harm pollinators including removing noninvasive wildflowers.  This takes away the ESSENTIAL nectar and pollen for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. 
Visit the Xerces Society  and Pollinator Partnership for more information about pollinators. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Did you know fun horticulture facts?


Did you know that bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet? 
  •  47.6 inches in a 24 hour period.

Did you know the redwood or Sequoia sempervirens is the world's tallest-growing tree?
275 feet in height and 25 feet in width

Bristlecone Pine:

Did you know that bristlecone pine or Pinus aristata is the world's oldest-growing tree?
4,600 years old

Trees and carbon production:

Did you know that an acre of trees can absorb as much carbon as is produced by a car driven up to 8700 miles? 


Did you know that a mature birch tree can produce up to a million seeds in a year?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What about Astro Turf?

Weeds and debris including wood chips in the artificial turf.
During times of drought in the west, artificial turf seems like a good alternative.  It is a good replacement on sports fields, in areas difficult to grow grass and areas with high traffic.  However, there is still maintenance required with the artificial turf.  Having artificial turf reduces fertilizer usage, chemical inputs and mowing.  In a different way it is not any less maintenance then living turf.  Listed below are some of the things that you still need to do when maintaining the artificial Turf:

  • Leaf collection
  • Debris removed
  • Pet feces and urine deposits
  • Other wind-blown dirt

Photos by Linda Langelo
The picture above of the soccer field illustrates one of the uses of  artificial turf.  There are several others listed below:
Field Hockey
Military Marching Drills 
Marching Band
Physical Exercises
Physical Education Activities
The main things to do when you have an artificial turf field according to AstroTurf Products Manual is follow some of the simple rules:
  • Keep it clean.
  • Install a fence around the turf to control access (this field does have a fence-right side of picture).
  • Post signs prohibiting smoking or carrying food or drink onto the turf.
  • Provide trash and litter cans nearby.
  • Observe recommended load limits for static and rolling loads, especially when turf is wet.
  • Repair minor damage promptly before it becomes a larger problem
  • Follow all recommended maintenance and cleaning procedures.
There is a whole list of different equipment used on artificial turf such as sweepers and vacuums.  Then there is a list of chemicals to avoid such as Clorox and other highly acid cleaners.  And not to mention, ultraviolet rays breakdown the artificial turf.  Purchasing a cover extends the life of the turf and reduces the cleaning of the artificial turf.