Like the millions of Americans and people worldwide, I am staying at home. Luckily, I am able to work from home.
I won’t write about the pandemic or all that is going on surrounding this crisis in our nation, rather I’d like to give those at home some environmentally friendly and perhaps “fun” projects or ideas for this spring. After all, we can all use some positive ideas in or around our own house, apartment or living space.
Whether you live alone or in a big family, you can hopefully find the items and time to make your space a bit greener, and the world will be better for it.
Solitary bee hotel
It’s not news that our pollinators are in peril. That includes the solitary bees. They are different from what many are familiar with — the honeybee. Honeybees nest in hives. Solitary bees are just that — solitary; they live alone and don’t make honey.
What you might not know is that 90% of bees don’t actually live in hives — but they’re important pollinators nonetheless. And by the way, solitary bees are much less likely to sting than honeybees because they aren’t defending a hive.
A large proportion of these bees love solitary nesting sites like hollow stems or holes in wood, which means bee hotels provide the perfect habitat for them.
Call them bee hotels, nests or houses, either way — if you build them, they will come. It’s a great way to attract pollinators to your flower bed or garden. And it’s fun and easy to make one.
If you have a drill and some wood, you can make a bee hotel. It can be simple or elaborate. All you need is a wooden box, open on one side, with a sloping roof to deflect rain.
Fill it with blocks of wood or small logs into which you have drilled small holes. A variety of solitary bees will use these tunnels as nest sites. The box should be a minimum of 20 cm. (8 in.) deep and needs an overhang at the top to keep rain off. Put it on a sunny fence or wall.
The drilled holes should be clean (no splinters) and not go all the way through the wood block. You can also fill it with bundles of dried stems of various herbaceous garden plants, especially raspberries, brambles, teasels and elder will be occupied by other species. These should be placed in an upright position in your bee house.
Many species of bees nest in dead stems and will not use drilled holes; any type of tube would work, so long as it stays dry.
Solitary bees lay their eggs in small holes. You can tell bees are using your hotel when they make a mud “door” to cover the entrance hole. This means a female bee has laid an egg inside. After the bee hatches, it will eat a supply of pollen until it is ready to break through the mud and fly away.
Ladybugs and wasps may also check out a room in your bee hotel. But that’s a good thing.
Don’t forget that “housekeeping” needs to follow up the next year and replace the bedding.
So have fun creating your bee hotel and helping the pollinators shelter in place.
If you have always wanted to start a garden, now may be the perfect time, especially if you’d like to try container gardening. For those that don’t want to devote a lot of time or simply don’t have the land or room or just want to start small, this could be perfect for you.
Before you begin, check the location where you are going to set your container and plant — it is recommended that most vegetables get at least six hours of sunlight a day. Besides that, watering and proper soil/fertilizer is a key component.
Some of the easiest vegetables to grow in containers include the nightshades like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant and as well as fast-growing crops like peas and lettuce. Without the threat of weather or having to worry about any critters, you could get great results.
For those with kids at home, you can take it one step further and have each member of the family pick out their own container (even decorate it) and decide what vegetable they want to plant.
Then, they will be involved in taking care of the plants. Everything tastes better and looks better — and you feel better — when its homegrown.
‘Toadally’ cool idea. I believe in balance — in life and in nature. And we need our amphibian friends all the more, so why not help out the toads and frogs?
It’s pretty simple to do. To attract them to your garden, avoid using chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
Toads like dark, shady hideouts, so make a small cave using stones or clay flowerpots as housing. Turn the pot upside down and prop it up with rocks leaving enough room for the frog or toad to slip inside. Place it in a quiet spot in the garden or flower bed that gets plenty of shade.
Not only do they eat slugs, mosquitoes and beetles — which is valuable pest control — but I also happen to love the sounds of the variety of frogs. From the peepers, tree frogs to the drumming and chirping of green and bull frogs. I truly enjoy the sounds of all them.
I have “pet” toads in the summer that I watch. I hope others will delight in the toad abode idea and make a simple space to accommodate our pest-eating friends. Kermit the Frog would be thrilled!
On the bright side
Yes, we are all going through some very trying and difficult times. However, we need to look for the silver lining.
Look at how blessed we are and what good things can come of our time at home. Look at what resources you have, and hopefully you can make one simple change to go greener, do something environmentally friendly and better for yourself and the planet.
April celebrates Earth Day and Arbor Day as well. Stay safe and healthy and enjoy your home.
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