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Updated: Mar 5

If you missed our class on raising Mason bees, you might be wondering what the big deal is. Aren't they just like any other bee? Aren't they a pest? Well, what if we told you these little bees are small but mighty, and hold a lot more potential, and less of a threat than you think. The cycle is beginning now, so get your garden ready for these friendly pollinators to hatch!

You may have heard about the phenomenon of honey bee loss, so you know it is quite detrimental to our planet. These pollinators have become absolutely essential to the balance of the ecosystem, but honey bees aren't even native to our area, they're European! Mason bees are our Western native pollinator, and they come with a long list of benefits. At Garden Spot Nursery, we provide free information about Mason bees for our customers, and 10% of sales on Mason bee products will go toward Common Threads, a Bellingham, WA based non-profit that promotes a seed-to-table approach to food production, nutrition and environmental stewards.


Why Raise Mason Bees


Right off the bat, Mason bees are objectively the best pollinator there is. They will effectively pollinate 1,600 flowers per day while a honeybee will only pollinate about 30. They are considered "non-stingers" since they are so focused on food and egg production, they won't bother you. In the unlikely event of being stung, they are nonlethal to those who may be highly allergic to most bee stings. Mason bees are easy to care for, since they nest in pre-made holes and naturally hibernate during the winter. That's right, no hive. These are solitary bees, so each female will focus solely on her offspring, and you won't have to worry about swarms. Housing materials are affordable and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, plus you won't need any protective gear since they are nonthreatening! Once winter rolls around, it will take you a maximum of 30 minutes to bring your bees inside to protect them during hibernation. A cinch! They really are a no brainer if you want to raise pollinators in the Northwest.


What You Will Need

Before you begin raising your bees, you will need to think about where they will live. Mason bees' houses should keep them dry, and you will want to be able to open it to harvest the cocoons. The deeper the hole, the more female eggs produced, so about 6 inches will be acceptable. We recommend one of two methods: a cardboard straw system with a white paper straw inside, or wooden segmented blocks, available at Garden Spot Nursery. There other options including bamboo tubes or drilled holes in a single block of wood, but these do not allow for cleaning or inspection, which can leave your bees susceptible to mites and other pests, so we advise you to try our methods. Both were developed by Bellingham native Brian Griffin, and are supported by Knox Cellars Mason Bees in Bremerton, WA.


Preparing Your Garden



Mason bees will prefer a variety of flowers and plants, so be sure not to limit your garden to one or two. Also, avoid using harsh chemicals on your lawn and garden, as they can be harmful to the bees. Provide your bees with a mud puddle near their house, and mist it daily to maintain proper moisture. Set up your bees' house off the ground, away from rodents and other pests, and face it east so that the morning sun will warm and wake your bees. Keep away from birdhouses, if you have any.


What Happens Next


When temperatures reach 50-55 degrees, the few male bees will emerge from their cocoons first, followed shortly by the females. After a brief mating period, the female takes the lead and begins cross-pollinating your flowers and fruits. She will use the mud puddle you provided to build up a support wall in her first nesting chamber, then begin packing nectar and pollen against it to lay her first egg. Female eggs will be laid deeper in the hole, protected from pests and predators by the less crucial male eggs. Once the chamber is full, she will close it off with more mud and start again. All the while, she will fly about your garden, pollinating your plants in the process. Mason bees will typically stay within 100 yards of their nest, which is why they are so reliable easy to keep track of.


Your Responsibility


Watch the houses as your bees repopulate, making sure you have enough nesting areas for each new egg. By mid-April, all of your bees should be hatched, and routinely flying around your garden. They will be easy to spot as they are all black. At this time you can open up your segmented blocks or remove the paper liners to be sure that all bees have hatched. By mid-July, your adult female bees have done their job and will retire. The eggs begin spinning their cocoon to hibernate so they will be ready for you next Spring! At this time, you should bring them inside a garage or shed to additionally protect them. Check on them once or twice throughout the fall and winter, just to be sure you will have a good group for next year, and that they haven't been affected by mites or fungi.



We hope you find raising Mason bees a fun new hobby, and great way to pollinate your garden while sustaining the environment by lightening the burden on the honey bee. We can't wait to hear about your experience with raising Mason bees, and are always available to answer any questions you may have! Garden Spot Nursery works with Knox Cellars Mason Bees to bring the joy of beekeeping to you, so check out the available resources on their website, www.knoxcellarsmasonbees.com, as well!


Updated: Mar 3

There are a lot of draws to filling your house with living things. For one thing, they clarify the air in your home, making for healthier, happier lungs. Houseplants can aid with stress and help you sleep. They can help fight illnesses and promote general wellbeing. The list goes on and on. But whether you are looking for one of these incredible benefits, or just looking for some new decor in your home, we're here to help you navigate the confusing world of houseplants with ease. We'll be focusing on a few types of houseplants today, but the options are limitless! As always, the genial staff at Garden Spot Nursery is available to answer any and all of your questions.


The first thing you should consider when you decide to bring house plants into your home is selection. You will need to choose which plants you want based on your lifestyle and how capable you are of keeping up with them. If you work a lot, travel a lot, or otherwise don't spend much time at home, you don't have to sacrifice the joy of houseplants. There are plenty of plants that require little upkeep once settled into their new environment. Your home should be a welcoming retreat each time you return, no matter how long you've been away. If you are home often, and taking up houseplants as a hobby, there are plenty that will require more of your attention. There are even ways you can influence your plants to create a certain aesthetic! Think about how involved you want to be in your plants' lives, so you can choose the ones that will work for you.


If you find yourself forgetting to water your plants, consider succulents! There are hundreds of varieties including a wide range of shapes and colors. Succulents make great indoor plants as they require little moisture, and prefer to dry out between waterings. These babies carry their own supply of water, you just have to replenish it. Think of it like recharging your phone battery. One of our favorite succulents is Aloe Vera, which can be harvested for its numerous medicinal properties. Echeveria is another great succulent with a broad color spectrum, and it can be propagated into many more plants! These succulent "babies" make great party favors!


If you want to go with succulents, focus on drainage. The worst thing you can do for them is allow standing water. Make sure to find a pot with a drainage hole and a saucer to collect the excess. Adding pea gravel to the bottom of the pot can also help keep the soil dry. Check the moisture of the soil by sticking your finger in to the knuckle. If it's dry, give it a drink! Simple!

If succulents aren't your vibe, you might be looking for something with more foliage, perhaps even a flower or two. We have plenty of these in stock at Garden Spot Nursery! A classic and favorite is the peace lily, with its broad leaves and gorgeous white flowers. For a bit more intrigue, consider calathea or dieffenbachia. Both of these feature large, patterned leaves which can thrive in a variety of environments.


For these broadleaf houseplants, keep the soil moist. They will take a bit more monitoring than succulents, as they don't like to dry out completely. Low light is tolerable, but try to find a place in your home that your plants can enjoy some sunlight during the day. Again, don't forget about drainage! Even though these require more moisture, you'll want to be careful of standing water.


If the thought of re-shaping your houseplants fascinates you, check out sansevieria. You may have heard of the popular "snake plant," but did you know that this funky plant has cousins? There are many shapes including some with wider stems, softer stems, even cylindrical stems! In fact, the cylindrical stems are one of the most adaptable varieties. Sansevieria cylindrica is often braided, but there are many other shapes you could form your into! All you really need is

a few twist ties, and you're on your way to a beautiful, intriguing display. Another plant this works great with is guiana chestnut, also known as a money tree.

No matter which houseplants you choose, you're sure to find the benefits to be extensive. The idea of keeping something alive can be daunting, but don't get discouraged and remember that we are here to help! We're sure you'll find yourself more attached to your new friends than you expected, maybe you'll even give them a name.


Updated: Mar 3

Strolling through the Garden Spot this week, you may come across a bin that looks a little strange...


Dig a little deeper... these bins are full of something much more interesting than sawdust. Buried within you will find our selection of bare root crops. Currently in stock are Seascape and Shuksan Strawberries, Crimson Cherry Rhubarb, and Jersey Supreme Asparagus. Bare root refers to plants which have gone dormant for the winter, and have been dug up and cleaned for easy transportation and transplanting. Not every plant can be preserved in this way, but those that can make for a great way to break up your gardening "to do list." This time of year is prime for planting these funny-looking plant starters, but don't delay! When it comes to planting bare root, time is of the essence, and the window of opportunity is closing in on us.


At Garden Spot Nursery, we aim to provide support to our customers in any way possible. Stick with us and we'll get you through bare root season with ease so you can harvest a beautiful and bountiful yield this summer.






Why Plant Bare Root?


Starting from bare root not only allows you to get a jump start on your summer crops, it can also save you a good chunk of change. Bare roots can come anywhere from 20 to 50 percent less expensive than traditional container plants since they cut the costs of soil and containers. This means you can grow more for less, a perk we love to bring to you whenever we can!

These roots weigh virtually nothing, making them incredibly simple to transport. This makes bare root planting a great option for our customers who have trouble with heavy lifting, those of us who want to get the kids involved in the garden, or anyone just looking for an easy transplant process.



Lastly, bare root plants tend to be much more resilient to "transplant shock," as they are dormant until they settle into their new soil. This means less worry, less work, and more reward when your plants start to sprout.



When to Start Your Bare Roots


NOW! It's already starting to warm up here in Bellingham, so you'll want to get these in the ground while they still have time to settle in before growing season. Typical planting season for bare roots is from January to April, but we find the sooner, the better.


Planting now means that your crops will stay well hydrated since soil retains moisture in the winter. You shouldn't need to water them, as they will need time to acclimate and "wake up" from their dormant stage. This happens naturally with the soil during this time. If anything, be sure that your soil is draining properly, to avoid drowning your roots before they even see the sun.



How to Grow from Bare Root


Picking the Right Roots

When picking out your roots, look for plump, healthy-looking tributaries. A good example has many successful offshoots of the main root system. This may be difficult to identify if you are new to bare roots, which is why our staff is always available to help you decide. Overall, avoid any roots that are dried and brittle, or alternatively, slimy and moldy. Don't write off an entire root system if it has some damage, however. These blemishes can be pruned to help with growth.

How to Store Bare Roots

Try to start preparing your roots within 24 hours of bringing them home. We store ours in sawdust to keep them cool and moist while you shop. If you aren't able to prepare them immediately, try to replicate this by moving them to a cool location and surround them with sawdust, soil or mulch to retain moisture until you are ready to plant. Don't let them get saturated, maintain the moisture that your dormant roots bring.


Preparing Your Roots for the Ground

Trim any damaged or unhealthy roots to unveil healthy tips. This could be anything shriveled, broken or blackened. You may also find it beneficial to trim a small amount off of each tip to assist with moisture absorption.

Now, it's time to rehydrate. Soak your roots in water for several hours, being cautious not to over soak. For example, soak them overnight and plant in the morning, or drop them in a bucket when you leave for work, then spend the afternoon getting them in the ground.


Planting Your Roots

You will want to start by digging a hole that is generously wide, but not much deeper than your roots are long. Help them grow their roots outward, expect gravity to handle the rest. Use a loamy soil or compost to fill your hole. As you surround the roots, break up some of the natural soil and mix it in with your additive. Mulch will aid with water retention, but don't crowd the stem.


Maintenance

Keep your soil moist, not soggy. During these rainy months, drainage is key. As the sun starts to come out, you may need to water here and there. That's it! The low maintenance of bare root planting makes up much of its appeal. You should start to see foliage by late May or early June, depending on the plant. As always, our knowledgeable staff should be able to help identify when each crop will grow.


If you are new to bare root planting, we hope you found this helpful. Stop by the shop to share your experiences with bare roots and look out for more content like this on our website, and Facebook page.

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Bellingham, WA 98225

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Phone: 360-676-5480

Toll-Free: 877-676-0886

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