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Celebrate National Pollinator Week


A bee loads up with pollen on a sunflower. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)
Give the bees, butterflies and other garden helpers a treat

It's National Pollinator Week, today through Sunday. No cake needed: We can't think of a better way to celebrate than with a new plant or two to help out these hard-working garden pals.

Right now the bees in my garden are loving the
African blue basil plant , which is not a good culinary basil but more than makes up for that by bringing pollinators to the vegetable garden. (Note: The flowers are sterile so you have to buy it as a transplant.)

Earlier this spring, one of our posts suggested many plants to grow to entice pollinators. If you missed that, check it out here .

Here's what the Pollinator Partnership has to say about why pollinators are so important to our lives:

"Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce."

Around the area, Amador Flower Farm & Nursery is celebrating Pollinator Week by offering sales on all pollinator plants. They also are hosting a children's coloring contest that lasts all week, and on Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23, the nursery invites families to bring their kids dressed as pollinators. (Got any baby bees in your family?) Ten customers will win bags equipped to get their own pollinator gardens started.

And on Sunday, visitors can see bees up close in Uncle Jer's Traveling Bee Show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on Pollinator Week activities, see their Facebook page .

Amador Flower Farm & Nursery is at 22001 Shenandoah School Road, Plymouth. For directions, go to amadorflowerfarm.com

And if you want to read more on pollinators, check out pollinator.org .

-- Kathy Morrison

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Garden Checklist for week of July 7

Take care of garden chores early in the morning, concentrating on watering. We’re still in survival mode until this heat wave breaks.

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to conserve moisture.

* Prevent sunburn; provide temporary shade for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, squash and other crops with “sensitive” skin.

* Hold off on feeding plants until temperatures cool back down to “normal” range. That means daytime highs in the low to mid 90s.

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week. Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more.

* Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Some weeds thrive in hot weather. Whack them before they go to seed.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Harvest tomatoes, squash, peppers and eggplant. Prompt picking will help keep plants producing.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* One good thing about hot days: Most lawns stop growing when temperatures top 95 degrees. Keep mower blades set on high.

* Once the weather cools down a little, it’s not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* After the heat wave, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers. Make sure the seeds stay hydrated.

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