426. Bluebird Gardens | CHARLOTTE EKKER WIGGINS | Missouri

Tuesday • March 15, 2022

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Here from Missouri is an amazing beekeeper, gardener, and author, CHARLOTTE EKKER WIGGINS!

Bee Club Basics- How to Start a Bee Club

Bee Club Basics: How to Start a Bee Club

A Beekeeper's Diary- Self Guide to Keeping Bees

A Beekeeper’s Diary: Self Guide to Keeping Bees

Has lots of checklists to help you get started.

Master Beekeeper class is using her next book Bees Need Flowers, Planting for Pollinators coming out soon.

Tips include:

  • reading a lot. 
  • Join a bee club because it’s like learning a new language.
  • Beekeeping is very local
  • Need to know bee biology to work with bees not tell them what to do
  • Spend a year learning about beekeeping by taking 1 or more classes, reading, meeting other beekeepers.

Bees are colony based, not self centered like humans. Bees sometimes leave because they don’t want to spread disease to the hive.

Jackie asks what if you can’t find a club? 

Thanks to the pandemic lots of clubs are meeting on Zoom like Bees Beyond Borders in Florida have guest speakers from leading bee experts in the country.

What works and what doesn’t in a garden

The critical part of providing bees is your SOIL HAS TO BE HEALTHY!

Need to keep soil healthy which will keep plants healthy and then bees will be healthy and food we eat will be healthy.

One out of every 3 bites of food we eat is from bee pollination.

  • Composting is the easiest thing to do.
  • Mulch with compost.
  • Lots of bird houses for natural pest control

I’m the same way. There’s so many garden chores I don’t want to do but compost is so easy! I don’t understand people who say it’s too hard, messy or complicated.

Charlotte adds we need to move away from perfection. In the old days, magazines used to really focus on green lawns. Common sense says it’s expensive to put in, you need to put in high expensive fertilizers, the minute it grows you cut it down and it doesn’t really add anything to the environment.

A bug bite on a rose leaf is exciting it means there’s a relationship between ladybugs and praying mantis etc who are eating the pests in the garden because they need food so a whole in a leaf is important for the rose to grow.

What grew well? 

Catnip

What’s something new or different your excited to try?

Some Baker Creek Co Seeds.https://www.rareseeds.com/

Some flowers and peppers that were ordered.

I like the tried and true. 

Do you save your own seeds?

I just tried spaghetti squash and loved it so I saved those. I also do companion planting. I plant onions around my roses to deter bugs and if I need an onion. I mix my vegetables and flowers, I don’t have them in rows, I plant them in with my flowers because I can move them around each year so they’re not planted in the same soil and using up all the nutrients and the pollinators are attracted by the flowers. 

How about something that didn’t go the way you thought is was going to?

My least favorite thing is to dig holes, I didn’t get as much mulch as I would have liked in some new flower beds, and I planted some zinnias in a bed that wasn’t quite ready for planting. They didn’t do as well as they should have. 

Getting to the Root of Things

What’s your favorite activity in the garden?

Play with my bees.

How do you play with your bees?

Follow them and observe where they’re going. Are they on fruit trees or flowers? Are the mason bees out of their houses? Things I do to keep the veroa mites low. Want to monitor and keep hives small. 

What’s big and small?

A nucleus hive is about 5-8000 bees.

A full colony is 60-80,000 bees.

Pollen for the queen and nectar is flight fuel. Mutual relationship between bees and flowers. If you have good forage through growing season April through October. 2,000,000 flowers to make a pound of honey. 

Best advice?

Soil section of the master gardener classes. I will take a soil class anytime I can get one. So many little entities living in soil at different temperatures. More in a tablespoon of earth than we have people living on the planet. IT’s just fascinating. Most important thing gardeners need to learn. 

Have you read For the Love of Soil by Nicole Masters? Listen to my interview with Nicole here on the GREEN Organic Garden Podcast

It’s awesome great audiobook as well as read. 

 Tool?

A pickaxe. I garden on a limestone hillside to cut the clay and hard soil then I have to amend that with mulch and compost and leaves.

Favorite recipe?

I have a website called a teaspoon.com. I made roasted cabbage steaks.

Cabbage Rosettes | an Organic Gardener Podcast Recipe from Mike’s Green Garden

Charlotte’s main website Bluebird Gardens

Charlottes recipe blog A Teaspoon

Gardening Charlotte blog

Home Sweet Bees blog

I enjoy writing if you can’t tell.

How about a favorite internet resource?

University extension websites. Extension offices are designed to offer information to the public. 

How about a book to recommend?

Any soil book. The Dirt on Soil

The Ultimate Guide to Soil- The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home

The Ultimate Guide to Soil: The Real Dirt on Cultivating Crops, Compost, and a Healthier Home by Anna Hess

The Hidden Life of Trees- What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World

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https://www.missoulacompost.com/

Full show notes coming soon!

True Leaf Market is wanting to sponsor the GREEN Organic Garden Podcast and is giving a discount code for listeners to get 15% off cover crop seeds: GOG15.

  • These codes all have the following characteristics:
  • 15% off cover crop products. i.e. orders for other items besides our cover crops won’t receive a discount.
  • Expires end of December • 2022
  • Limit one use per customer.
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