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Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

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  • Sarah Fremont




A few months ago, our neighbor was over for tea and cookies. “I was approved to host honey bees on my property, and my payment will be free honey,” she said. “I can’t wait!” As lovers of honey ourselves, we were quite intrigued, so we asked her how she got approved. She explained, “I applied for a very unique beekeeping program, located in our town, that looks for suitable land to place their hives that will provide forage for their bees. In exchange, they give you a share of the honey.” We currently have a vegetable garden and a wildflower garden, and we knew that both gardens would benefit from an increase in pollinating residents. She gave me the contact information, and later that day I sent an inquiry to the beekeeper:


Hello Mr. Beekeeper,

We would love to be considered for a hive to be placed on our property.

We have two large gardens . . . a large vegetable garden and a large wildflower garden. In addition, our entire property is native grass and wildflowers.

We also would love the educational aspect of learning more about bees.

Thank you!


The Beekeeper replied:

All we ask is that our members use organic practices, zero pesticides, and as much planting for pollinators as possible!

Sincerely,

The Beekeeper


Since we are completely organic gardeners, and do not use pesticides, we were approved as a host site for the honey bees and they arrived in April! The beekeepers primary interest is in their own bee’s welfare, but their secondary interest is in educating us on how to become beekeepers ourselves, in hopes that we will eventually want to manage our own hives. For now, we will be keen observers and learn from them as they manage the hives.



Honey bees are not native to the United States. The introduction of the honey bee began with European colonization of the Americas in the 17th century. There are about 4,000 native bee species in North America, including about 50 different bumblebee species. Native bees and honey bees are both critical in our agricultural world for transferring pollen and seeds from one flower to another, and fertilizing the plant so it can grow and produce food. Even if you do not have the opportunity to host a honey bee hive on your property, there are still things you can do to create a welcoming environment for the native bees in your own neck of the woods:







-Plant native flowers. And aim to provide blooms over several seasons. Bees also like nectar from flowering trees.


-Provide a water source. Bees need to drink water as they forage and pollinate.


-Keep your yard pesticide free. Pesticides are harmful to bees and keep them from pollinating your flowers. We have found many organic treatments to help manage garden problems.


-Make a bug hotel to create a safe living space for solitary bees. With the exception of honey bees, most bees live alone. Our neighbor simply drills various sized holes into a piece of wood to provide a home for the bees.


Be kind to the bees, and happy hosting!





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  • Sarah Fremont


We were living in New York City in a studio apartment and I was hankering to get my hands in a bit of soil after moving from Minnesota where we had a large yard and garden. “Let’s go buy some potted herbs at the farmer’s market,” I said to my husband. At this point we had little money to buy much extra of anything, so he was hesitant. “But think of all the money we will save from growing our own herbs!” He obliged, and we took the subway downtown to the outdoor market and purchased three small potted herbs—rosemary, thyme, and peppermint. After bringing the pots home, I placed the herbs in the window sill during the winter, and set them out on the stoop in the spring through fall. And voila, I was gardening in New York City.


Herbs are one of the easiest ways to get into gardening, and fresh herbs added to your home cooked meals are a delight! Herb plants are available online year round or often found at local nurseries, so winter is an excellent time to begin when you are craving a bit of gardening and indoor greenery. Buy the herbs as small plants, not as seeds, so you can pot them up right away.


There are five herbs that are known to do best in pots and will make it through your indoor winter garden:



Oregano

  • Flavor: earthy and minty.

  • When to water: when soil feels dry to the touch.

  • How to harvest: make sure that the plant is at least four inches in height. Pinch the top part along with the first set of leaves and just above the leaf node.

Chives

  • Flavor: mild garlic and onion.

  • When to water: always keep the soil slightly moist.

  • How to harvest: when the plant grows above six inches, snip the top using sharp scissors. Make sure to leave at least two inches of the plant intact from the bottom.

Mint

  • Flavor: cool, sweet, and a little spicy.

  • When to water: always keep the soil moist.

  • How to harvest: pick leaves as you need them.

Rosemary

  • Flavor: piney, woodsy, and slightly bitter.

  • When to water: thoroughly water, but let the top two inches of soil dry out between watering.

  • How to harvest: cut off a bit of the stem above the woody part, leaving at least two-thirds of the plant.

Thyme

  • Flavor: earthy, sweet, minty.

  • When to water: lightly water when the soil feels dry.

  • How to harvest: cut a few inches off a stem, pick the leaves you want to use, and leave at least five inches of the plant intact from the bottom.


A few additional tips when growing your own potted herb garden:


  1. Use good soil when potting the herbs. The best option is to find a local nursery with excellent organic potting soil. Many of the boxed soils that can be purchased at chain stores do not drain well and often develop fungus.

  2. Plant your herbs in breathable pots. I like using terra cotta pots with drainage holes and saucers. They are very affordable and the plant is able to breathe versus a plastic pot that would trap moisture. Also, choose a pot that is a bit larger than the plant. As it grows larger, you can always repot into a larger pot.

  3. Herbs like the sun. In the winter, place the pot on a sunny, southern facing window sill. When the threat of frost is over, place the pot outside in the sun.



A potted herb garden is a lovely way to dip your toes into gardening, delight in fresh grown aromas and flavors, and bring greenery to your windows during the bleak months of winter.


Happy gardening!


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  • Sarah Fremont

March winds and April showers

can blow your plants away.

So start your seeds inside the house

and plant outside in May.

Hollie Hobbie





When we first started gardening, we were so excited to start from scratch with seeds grown indoors. Growing plants from seeds allow you to start gardening earlier in the season, and buying a packet of seeds is much cheaper than the cost of plants. We went to our local gardening store and purchased a wide variety of seed packets, brought them home, and began the process of starting our seeds. We planted them in suitable seed starter soil, watered them, and provided adequate sunlight. After a bit, the seeds formed little seedlings that peeked through the soil. It was all very rewarding. Once the seeds had outgrown their indoor homes, we were ready to transplant them outdoors. This is where we, as newbies, had a sad awakening. Although our seedlings were ready to be transplanted, the garden was not ready for the seedlings. It was not the appropriate planting time for the specific vegetables we had chosen. Fortunately, we were able to transplant the seedlings to larger indoor pots and enjoy the fruits of our labor indoors.


Now that we know to choose seeds that will form seedlings at the right time to be planted, we have enjoyed the process of starting seeds in eggshells. Eggshells have been a fun choice because they are easy to obtain, you can place the shell and seedling directly into the soil, and the eggshell provides a great source of calcium and other minerals for the plant.


If you’d like to try this at home, here are the steps to follow:


  1. Choose your seeds. Look at the packets’ indoor starting time to help you choose the best seeds. Herbs and flowers are easy, great choices.

  2. Save your cracked eggshells. Choose shells that are mostly intact, rinse them well, and line an empty carton with the shells.

  3. Using a spoon, carefully add pre-moistened seed soil to the eggshells. Seed soil is a lighter soil that allows the root system to grow freely through the plant, creating a strong and healthy plant.

  4. Add the seeds to the soil and slightly push down, just until the seeds are fully covered. We add two to three seeds per shell for optimum success rates and keep the strongest looking seedling.

  5. Gently mist the soil with a spray bottle of water
. Continue to keep the soil moist while the leaves are developing.

  6. Place the carton in a sunny windowsill and watch the seeds sprout.

  7. When your seedlings develop leaves, you can transplant them into a larger pot or directly in your garden. Before you transplant, gently crush the shell and remove a few shards around the bottom.

We’ve used this method for our outdoor garden, and also for starting flower seeds for our indoor house pots. It is such a rewarding feeling to know you were involved in the entire growth process from start to finish.


Happy planting!



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