Gardeners of AW, unite

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SWest

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Yellow Jackets are interesting wasps. There are two basic types (gatherers and guards). The guards will sting (stingers don't come out - so they keep stabbing) and bite. The bites are arguably more painful than the jabs.

I had a queen at our old house nest in a large container on the back patio. All spring and summer the gatherers glided in and out, around the dogs, not taking any notice of us. This queen was some generations along in a line that lived on the property for many years. They knew me and the gatherers frequently came to say "Hey" in front of me each morning as they left for their chores.

On occasion a gatherer would get stuck to one of the Shih Tzu's fuzzy noses, or inside Sr. Esteban's shirt and they can sting defensively. If you aren't actually on the nest, there won't be any more trouble.

One day in later summer/early fall I tried to gently pull a plant from the pot. Guardians galore all over my sweatshirt! From that day on they were on High Alert when I was near. Not the dogs, just me. Even in the dark of midnight. I had to ultimately cover the pot with a trashcan lid to smother the colony.

In winter I uncovered the pot and pulled up the soil. Well, what was left of the soil! The colony had hollowed out most of the dirt to replace with their nest, leaving the sparest few inches of dirt on top.

Fun and interesting species. But once the guards get the smell of you, the fun's over. :greenie
 
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We have German wasps, which are an introduced invasive species, and which serve no useful purpose, and which are unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst. None of which are exactly accolades. But they also attack, kill, and rob out beehives, which IMO puts them about twelve evil levels below Beelzebub.

I see them, I kill them.
 

Brigid Barry

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We have German wasps, which are an introduced invasive species, and which serve no useful purpose, and which are unpleasant at best and dangerous at worst. None of which are exactly accolades. But they also attack, kill, and rob out beehives, which IMO puts them about twelve evil levels below Beelzebub.

I see them, I kill them.
That is a whole different ballgame and I 100% agree.

When will people stop introducing species? It NEVER works out.
 

Helix

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That is a whole different ballgame and I 100% agree.

When will people stop introducing species? It NEVER works out.

But honeybees and bumblebees are introduced species in New Zealand and in Australia. (Bumblebees were introduced into Tasmania from New Zealand.)
 
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Chris P

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My understanding is that "yellowjacket" is a group that includes bald faced wasps and the yellow monsters of nightmares.
Sort of. The term "yellowjacket" has little scientific meaning, except that most members are in the Vespidae family, which contains about 5000 species. The most common members are in the Vespa, Vespula, and Polistes genera.

As much as I hate the Vesupla vulgaris ones that make enjoying anything sugary outdoors in late summer, and that one time stung my back through my shirt while i was driving, the Polistes carolina red wasps we had in Mississippi were 5 times as aggressive and more painful.
 
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SWest

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That is a whole different ballgame and I 100% agree.

When will people stop introducing species? It NEVER works out.
Most of the problem is inadvertent introductions...animals that ride along with produce, luggage, or other moved bric-a-brac.

But honeybees and bumblebees are introduced species in New Zealand and in Australia. (Bumblebees were introduced into Tasmania from New Zealand.)
Honey bees were brought to the U.S. in 1622 (so, not the U.S. at all...). They are the most popular commercial pollinator, but not the most effective one compared to native solitary bees (which have defensive barbs and venom, but are slow to sting).

But, honey. :greenie
 

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I've learned to live with social insects but I draw the line at them setting up shop in the house, (for which they are way too keen. We've had about every social insect taking residence in out walls; wasps, bees, hornets, ants. It can stop, as far as I'm concerned.)

But I'm checking every hornet that passes by to see if it has the proper colouring like the European hornet. Invasive Asian hornets are gaining a foothold and everybody is on high alert to thwart them. Luckily they haven't reached our area but sometimes I fear it's just a matter of time.

Harvested some stray native plants from the garden for relocating to an old production forest that's being rewilded. I think after some twenty years of the family slowly working on diversifying the patch of forest, we have reached a point where the forest's own regenerative processes have begun. We are starting to see oak and chestnut saplings we didn't plant, which is a first. And two plants that I thought were beech, turned out to be frangula, which is a native shrub and I have been pushing for years for us to plant it. Last autumn I finally got my wish, only to find the forest is starting to produce them on its own!
 

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We've got tomatoes! :) :) They are the sweet cherry kind, and they are really good this year.

We also got a little bit of rhubarb which I used in a strawberry compote for shortcakes. I used homemade mint extract syrup in the whipped cream.

And we've had our second batch of pesto, which was delish.

The zucchinis are blossoming, the corn is finishing, the bolted spinach and radishes are ready to come out (seeds), and oh yeah we're also getting carrots.

Not too many wasps here, but the bees are nice.
 

mrsmig

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Our local parking lot pop-up garden center is closing down for the season and having a big sale, so I picked up some flowering plants yesterday: coreopsis, zinnia, portulaca and a red variety of salvia. The zinnia will probably go into the vegetable garden, I'm going to try the coreopsis in the cherry tree garden since it's supposed to be deer-resistant (we'll see about that), the salvia will move into the perennial garden to replace some cardinal flowers that refused to come back this year, and I'll probably pot the portulaca and put them on the deck.

The garlic is a few days away from harvest. We had a huge downpour day before yesterday, and I'm waiting for things to dry out before I start digging them up. I'm interested to see how the in-ground bulbs did in comparison to the container-grown plants. Once they're harvested, I'll shift around some of my grow-bag tomatoes, potatoes and peppers so I'll have some room to maneuver, lay down more mulch, and plant one more bag of sweet potato slips.

The pole beans I planted last week have popped up. They look particularly exuberant.
 

Brigid Barry

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I have two tomato plants to add to my vegetable volunteers growing in my flower garden. We have three more spaghetti squash volunteers in the compost pile so we're just letting them grow. We also have a random potato growing in the front yard that no one can figure out how it got there, so we put a tomato cage over it so it doesn't get smushed accidentally.

I'm trying to let the chickens out every few days to take care of the bugs - it's easier on weekends when I know I'll be home.

Once upon a time, my yard was probably lovely with wonderful landscaping. The most recent find are some tea roses and some very fragrant pink peonies. My asiatic and daylilies are going to be blooming soon.

My poor pear tree has some pears on it, but it's also covered in black spots all over the leaves and the fruit. 😞 I need to find a class on fruit trees or something.

The wild raspberries (which might be blackberries) are doing incredibly well, and the wild blueberries are ripening. Hopefully we get some strawberries - those are both in the garden and going so wild in the garden that we need to build a strawberry bed. The radishes and carrots are struggling, but the tomatoes, peppers, beans, and potatoes are doing great.

The husband has been playing with his chainsaw to take some trees down but it's slow going. It's a big yard and it's overwhelming trying to clean it up while trying to preserve some of the nature. We have more birds this year than I've ever seen. My phoebe is back on her nest for a second clutch of eggs, the chickadees moved out and the tree swallows moved in, and we have house wrens nesting in several places. Along with the butterflies it's pretty darned cool.

ETA: should have new chicks on Thursday. 🤞
 

mrsmig

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Pulled up one of the garlic plants last week as a test. It was just one big clove, so too soon.

Pulled up another one yesterday, and it looked like there might be cloves happening under the skin. But maybe still too soon. Or maybe there was a soil nutrient deficiency. Or maybe they didn't get watered the way they wanted. Who knows?

The lower two pairs of leaves had died back, and most conventional wisdom says they're ready when that happens. Maybe mine are just shy. Never mind, they still smelled wonderfully garlicky, and will cook just fine regardless, after they've cured. (Although one YouTube video I watched says those big single cloves make good seed garlic, too.)

Think I'll wait another week before I pull another.
 

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I'm itching to pull garlic as well.

Nothing to report here. We have a castor bean volunteering and the scientist in my head wants to do something wicked with it. I'll probably pull it, though.
 

Chris P

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My garlic was pretty well died down by the end of May, so I pulled it up then and dried it down. The largest bulbs were no larger than a ping-pong ball, with great flavor but tiny cloves. Next time around I'll need to pay more attention to the soil. I think I'm trying to grow them in too heavy clay of a soil, and need to work in about twice as much compost and garden soil as I did last year.

The raspberry I thought was dead came up from the roots! I doubt I'll get any fruits on it this year, but at least it made it.
 

Brigid Barry

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The raspberry I thought was dead came up from the roots! I doubt I'll get any fruits on it this year, but at least it made it.
Once upon a time I unleashed a herd of goats on a thick patch of raspberries. They were eaten down to the ground - canes and all - and they just came back even angrier than before. My dogwood shrubs both did this - died entirely and then came back from the root. I am not sure if my blueberry bushes will be so lucky, but we haven't ripped them up yet to give them a chance.
 
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Oh, gardening AW, I have a question I feel stupid asking, but hey.

Last year I got a set of reusable plant labels for my birthday. (Unlabelled plant is a theme, a running gag, and a long history at our house.) So I used them but now I have planted out what sprouted and removed what didn't and I wanted to re-use my labels.

... I can't get the ink off. I tried washing liquid, soaking in hot water, hard sponges, elbow grease, and eventually cleaning alcohol. The last one bleached the plastic a little.

Google has failed me, it just want to sell me more reusable garden labels.

What am I doing wrong? And alternatively, how do you re-use your labels?
 
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Brigid Barry

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Oh, gardening AW, I have a question I feel stupid asking, but hey.

Last year I got a set of reusable plant labels for my birthday. (Unlabelled plant is a theme, a running gag, and a long history at our house.) So I used them but now I have planted out what sprouted and removed what didn't and I wanted to re-use my labels.

... I can't get the ink off. I tried washing liquid, soaking in hot water, hard sponges, elbow grease, and eventually cleaning alcohol. The last one bleached the plastic a little.

Google has failed me, it just want to sell me more reusable garden labels.

What am I doing wrong? And alternatively, how do you re-use your labels?
What are these reusable garden labels and what did you write on them with? If they are a hard surface (dry erase board, etc) and it's permanent marker, color all over the ink with a dry erase marker and let it sit for a little while. The ink should wipe off with the dry erase marker.

One of the top 5 things I learned in the military that I still use...

There's also a product called Goo Gone (similar to WD40, which may do the same thing) that can be used to remove ink, but I am less certain about the circumstances.
 
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mrsmig

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If I'm feeling lazy, I just draw a line through last season's writing, then flip the label over and write on the reverse.

I've used WD-40 to clean mine, with varied results. You might find some solutions on this video: How to Remove Permanent Market from Plastic Plant Tags
 

SWest

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Since the ink has been with the plastic a long time, you need to let the tags soak in the cleaner.

WD-40 (a spray oil product), acetone (nail polish remover), rubbing alcohol, heavy-duty dish soap (there is a new alcohol-based spray-on dish soap in the U.S. made by Dawn that might work a treat).
 

Chris P

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I want bigger bulbs as well but I'm thinking wood ash might do it. We'll need to compare notes in a year. :)
I've been dumping my wood ash into the compost pile, but perhaps I should keep it separate and apply directly?
 
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Oh, good question.

My recollection from googling was to put a line of ash two inches down in the soil, where the roots would be. I thought I'd double check this fall when I plant the cloves.

The only other time I've used ash, years ago, is on the areas of the yard where we try to beat back the weeds. But that ended up sickening the other plants, the ones we were trying to help. So ash is a bit of mystery to me, but part of me thinks if it is a solution for small bulbs, then that'll be so cool!
 
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Oh, gardening AW, I have a question I feel stupid asking, but hey.

Last year I got a set of reusable plant labels for my birthday. (Unlabelled plant is a theme, a running gag, and a long history at our house.) So I used them but now I have planted out what sprouted and removed what didn't and I wanted to re-use my labels.

... I can't get the ink off. I tried washing liquid, soaking in hot water, hard sponges, elbow grease, and eventually cleaning alcohol. The last one bleached the plastic a little.

Google has failed me, it just want to sell me more reusable garden labels.

What am I doing wrong? And alternatively, how do you re-use your labels?
I'd try acetone (nail polish remover) but, honestly, we re-use our labels by re-using them for the same thing. If a label says cauliflower, I harvest the cauliflower, collect the label, put it into the 'save' box, and next year when I put out a cauliflower seedling I'll dig out the label and re-use it.

The other thing you may be able to do is slather a lot of the same ink as the original (same pen type) and then rub it clean before it dries. That works on white boards when you accidentally use a permanent Sharpie instead of a white board marker.