Easiest Way to Harvest Milkweed Seeds

You have to be living in a hole if you have not heard of the concern for the decline in Monarch populations across the United States. Much of the loss is thought to be destruction of habitat and of the native milkweed species that provide food for the Monarch larvae. In response, many organizations have started propagating milkweed and in some cases are giving away free milkweed seeds. However, if you are lucky enough to stumble upon a patch of milkweed close to where you live, you may want to collect some of the seeds yourself.

For all the hype of milkweed being a weed, in the case of Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), it sure does not Continue reading “Easiest Way to Harvest Milkweed Seeds”

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Native Pollinators Pushed Out By Honey Bees

The urban beekeeping fad is still going strong in the United States with city and rural folks jumping in on this exciting agricultural hobby. For some it’s the lure of fresh honey; pure in form with no water added. For others it is part of the larger gardening craze called pollinator gardens. And I suspect for most people, it’s a little of both.

On the commercial side, honey bee pollination is critical to the agriculture system that has emerged here in the United States. Crops such as blueberries and cherries, are 90-percent dependent on honey bees and almond growers rely entirely on the honey bee for pollinating their trees. It is estimated that more than a million colonies are needed each year in California just to pollinate the state’s almond crop. Some argue that if it weren’t for the introduction of the honey bee, we would not be the agricultural powerhouse we are.

But this success story is not without a down side. Continue reading “Native Pollinators Pushed Out By Honey Bees”

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Crab Spider Ambushes Bumblebee

I was walking along the edge of the rye field when I notice a bumblebee on a mustard flower. However the more I stared at it the more I noticed something was wrong. The bumblebee was not facing in the correct direction, namely such that it could gather nectar. And what’s more, it wasn’t moving. Then I notice a slight orange strip which begged closer inspection.

What I realized as I got closer was the bumblebee was not there by choice. It was in the jaws of a Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia). Crab spiders are Continue reading “Crab Spider Ambushes Bumblebee”

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Seared Albacore Tuna with Garlic Olive Zoodles

I wanted a light and healthy dish for a weekend dinner and I was not going to have a lot of prep time.  So I turned to one of the quickest proteins to cook, Oregon albacore tuna and paired it with zoodles (zucchini noodles) I made with a spiralizer. Start to finish this recipe took less than 30 minutes.

Ingredients

TUNA
2 five ounce Oregon albacore tuna steaks
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Season albacore tuna steaks with cayenne pepper on both sides and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Places seasoned tuna in skillet and cook to desired doneness – 1 1/2 minutes per side for rare. Continue reading “Seared Albacore Tuna with Garlic Olive Zoodles”

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Phacelia tanacetifolia: An Extraordinary Insectary Plant

Phacelia tanacetifolia or Lacy Fiddleneck is my favorite insectary plant; attracting honey bees, native bumblebees, solitary bees, parasitic wasps, syrphid flies, and many other beneficial insects. It provides both quality pollen and copious amounts of nectar to these insects and in return you get the benefit of increased pollination and pest management. Because Phacelia is quick growing and supports flowers that last a long time, it is a great insectary plant.

Insectary plants are grown with the express purpose of providing increased pollen and nectar resources required by the natural enemies of harmful garden pests. Providing these resources builds up the population of these beneficial insects in your garden. And in addition to attracting predatory insects, insectary plants also draw in friendly insects that Continue reading “Phacelia tanacetifolia: An Extraordinary Insectary Plant”

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