Tag Archives: pumpkins

34:06.07

Thirty-four minutes and 6.07 seconds.  That is how long I waited in line for one dozen cider doughnuts at Russell Orchards yesterday.  And…I’d do it again.  My only regret is that some people in line around me had empty wine glasses because they were smart enough to partake in wine tasting prior to getting in line.  Me, not so much.

After an afternoon hockey game at Pingree we drove through Essex and into Ipswich to spend some time at Russell Orchards….which thousands of friends.

The boys tolerated the annual sit near the pumpkin photo before we headed into the bar to check out the line.  They immediately deemed it too long for them to stand in, but promised to not get the largest pumpkins on the farm if I held a place in line for them. Deal.

The boys picked out their pumpkins, found their favorite honey sticks, and did some drive-bys to check on my progress (or, most likely, to check on how much longer they had to wait for a warm cider doughnut).

Super warm doughnuts in hand, the boys tolerated the annual Russell Orchards Ford Truck photo and then we all meandered down to the pond and barns to see the animals.  We checked on the little pigs…and the giant one.  We looked at the goats, ducks, chickens, bunny, and one rat.  Finn picked up an apple that was already on the ground in front of a donkey and offered it to him….without shoving a finger up its nose.  I should explain that Finn had a thing for shoving his finger up the nostril of many a farm animal when he was younger.  We read the sign that said, “Please do not feed the donkeys” and did not do it again.

The boys tolerated the annual sit on the tractor photo and we were off.

Forced Family Fall Farm Fun. Check.  I was happy that their hockey schedules cooperated this weekend so we could get our farm fun on.

 

 

Top Ten Tips for Attracting and Supporting Native Bees

Bees, butterflies, and songbirds bring a garden to life, with their grace in movement and ephemeral beauty.   Bee and Monarch Butterfly ©Kim Smith 2012Many of the plants that are the most highly attractive to butterflies are also the most appealing to bees, too!

Bees are also a “keystone organism,” which means they are critical to maintaining the sustainability and productivity of many types of ecosystems. Without bees, most flowering plants would become extinct, and fruit and seed eating birds and mammals (such as ourselves) would have a much less healthy and varied diet.

Native bees come in an array of beautiful colors, size, and shapes. Some are as small as one eighth of an inch and others as large as one inch. They may wear striped suits of orange, red, yellow, or white, or shimmer in coats of metallic iridescene. Their names often reflect the way in which they build their nests, for example, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, mason bees, plasterer bees, digger bees, and wool carder bees.

Approximately 4,000 species of native bees have been identified north of Mexico. They are extremely efficient pollinators of tomatoes, apples, berries, pumpkins, watermelons, and many other crops.

Native Bee Pollinating Apricot Tree ©Kim Smith 2009Native Carpenter Bee and Apricot Tree

Listed below are what I have found to be the most successful tips for supporting and attracting native bees to your garden.

1). Choose plants native to North America. Over millennia, native bees have adapted to native plants. If planting a non-native plant, do not plant invasive aliens, only well-behaved ornamentals.

2). Choose non-chemical solutions to insect problems, in other words, do not use herbicides or pesticides.

3).  Choose plants that have a variety of different flowers shapes to attract a variety of bees, both long-tongued and short-tongued bees.

4). Avoid “fancy” plants, the hybrids that have been deveolped with multiple double frilly layers. This only confuses bees when they are looking for nectar and gathering pollen.

5). Provide a succession of nectar-rich and pollen bearing blooms throughout the growing season. Select plants that flower during the earliest spring, during the summer months, and until the first hard frost.

6.) Plant a clover lawn, or throw some clover seed onto your existing grass lawn to create a mixed effect.

7.) Bee Friendly–bees only sting when provoked. When encountering an angry bee, stay calm and walk away slowly.

8.) Plant lots of blue, purple, and yellow flowers, a bees favorite colors.

9). Provide a source of pesticide-free water and mud in your bee paradise.

The first nine tips are for any garden, large or small. The last is for people with larger land areas.

10).  Establish hedgerows, or clumps of native woody shrubs and trees, and wildflower fields. Contact the USDA NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Services) for available funding opportunities.

Tomorrow I’ll post our top ten native plants for attracting and supporting native bees.

Cornus alternifolia ©Kim Smith 2009One of the most elegant of all native trees is the not-widely planted Cornus alternifolia, or Pagoda Dogwood. Where ever I plant this tree of uncommon grace and beauty it becomes a magnet for all manner of bees and butterflies.

Halloween Creeps in By The Sea

A little early recon to check out the spooky, creepy, scary haunts awaiting the Tricksters and Treaters! Looks like a night of fright…

Pick Your Own Apples at Russell’s Orchard

It’s that time of year. Joey in 2008: “Have you picked apples this year?” If you haven’t now is the time. Russell’s Orchard in Essex (Follow signs for Crane’s Beach) has trees loaded with crispy tasty apples that just taste ten times better than apples that have been sitting around in a grocery store. You think Gaia are flavorful? Taste one right off the tree.

If you have small children who need to pick their own pumpkin, take a hayride out to the fields, eat cider donuts fresh out of the machine, or pet a bunny you need to go next weekend to Russell’s Orchard. Click here for how Pick your Own. Hayrides are thrown in free on the weekends.

Find them on Facebook.

If you are an old curmudgeon who thinks a hayride is just for kids think again. The tractor drivers are comedians.

I take this guy’s photo and as he pulls even with me, “Hope my face didn’t break your camera!”

Go early on the weekend as this is very popular although Russell’s is set up to handle a crowd. Plenty of parking and plenty of stuff to do. I didn’t even make it to the winery. This time. Meanwhile I have homemade apple crisp with vanilla ice cream on the menu this week. 298 days until the Blackburn Challenge. Plenty of time to fit into the kayak.

Open 9-5 every day. You miss out on the hayride if you go during the week.