Friday, December 27, 2013


So, okay, I got a little behind in my posting, but I don’t want to neglect the last couple of "Down in the Dirt with Diana" radio shows on KMUZ 88.5 FM. So here is the information on these shows, and links to the podcasts, then I can get to more current posts.    

About the Nov. 26, 2013 show:  

To hear this show, click this podcast link: 

This episode of ‘Down in the Dirt with Diana’, broadcast on 11/26/2013, was so much fun. My first guest was Carol Horning, ‘the Bug Lady’, from the Marion County, Oregon, Master Gardener program, talking about raising Orchard Mason Bees. These little black bees are one of our native species and very hard working pollinators for about 6 weeks in early spring, just when most of the fruit trees are blooming. And they are industrious, buzzing so fast from flower to flower that one bee can do the work of 100 honeybees! Because they carry loads of pollen on special hairs on their abdomen, instead of in packets on their legs as honeybees do, they are 95% effective at pollinating the flowers they visit, as opposed to the honeybees at 5% effectiveness. They are also speedy, visiting twice as many flowers in a day than honeybees do.   

Mason Bee

image courtesy of wikimedia 

They are solitary bees, setting up their home alone and laying their eggs in any convenient tube-like hollow about 6” deep and about 5/16” wide. They are easy going, cute little critters, and do not sting, so they are easy and fun to raise and to keep around. There are easy ways to make appropriate nesting tubes to keep them where you want them. Carol talks about their life cycle, their needs, and how to make nesting tubes for them. If you are in the Salem area, you can see how the mason bee houses are constructed at the Marion County Master Gardener demonstration garden at 3180 Center Street NE, in Salem.

One way to make a Mason Bee Box 

For more information on Mason Bees and what you need in order to raise them, try one of these sites, or search out more on Google.   

My second guest on this show was Sally Herman. Sally is an extraordinary Salem gardener, both in the organic vegetable line, and in ornamental gardening. She is an extremely knowledgeable plantswoman, a collector of unusual plants, and so not much is in ordinary in her garden. The topic of our discussion this day was her long curved double sided perennial/shrub border. She is of the garden philosophy that it is best to leave the plants to die back naturally, letting the leaves and seed heads lie, mulch it all, but wait until spring to do the major cleanup. By this time most of the leaves and stems, etc., will have decomposed to become a healthy soil addition and to help feed the plants for next year. I like her thinking. She does cut back the seed heads of some particularly problematic reseeders like Ligularia, but, for the most part, she just deals with reseeding when it comes. And because she has a fairly dense covering of plants, most of the perennial and weed seeds never have a chance to germinate. There is always something in bloom in her garden. The day that I was visiting, there were Camellias, Daphnes, and some beautiful bright yellow Mahonias in flower. As of this writing, we have just come out of an extended deep freeze. Before this freeze occurred, I would have said that Witch Hazel  (Hamamelis), Garrya (Silk tassel), Edgeworthia (a Daphne relative) and Wintersweet (Chimonanthes praecox) would be in bloom soon. Now I'm not so sure. It will be interesting to see what buds have been damaged beyond repair. For sure, the Edgeworthia and Winterweet buds are frozen, based on previous experience.

Hamamelis (Witch Hazel) flowers  


Click here to hear the podcast of this episode :  

Our first guest on this episode was Beth Myers–Shenai, Waste Management Coordinator for Marion County in Oregon, and a compost specialist. She gave us some great information on what compost is and how to use it. We will be talking about compost frequently on this blog and on the radio show.  
Compost pile in the snow - 85 degrees inside the pile, 25 degrees air temp. 

Our second guest was Ellen Egan, the owner of Egan Gardens, who told us all about Poinsettias. Listen in and learn!  


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