Friday, April 05, 2013

Plant Flowers for the Bees

Sometimes I feel like if you looked up the word "Duh" in the dictionary you'd find my picture there.

In my defense - sort of - I wasn't really taught much about gardening and nature and such as I was growing up. I wasn't especially interested in learning, either, though.

My parents were born back in the latter 1940's, when life wasn't as convenient as running to your choice of the four or five local chain grocery stores a mile up the road to grab a bag of potatoes for dinner or an apple for a snack. They grew up same as their parents grew up, raising their own food and living off the land.

By the time I came along in the 1960's, that had changed.
My parents lived in a subdivision behind a shopping center that housed 2 chain grocery stores, a drugstore, and Variety (department) stores, among others. Across the street from that were Fast Food restaurants and Full Service gas stations.
Along with packaged foods and drink, it was just much more convenient and easy for Mom, who worked a full-time job, to grab stuff for dinner at the grocery store or take us to the Burger Chef.

I remember - fondly - as a little kid spending Summers on my great-grandparents farm up in the north Georgia mountains. Life up there was very different from The City, many people still didn't even have indoor plumbing, much less a grocery store down the block. Other than a few things like tea, sugar, cocoa, etc., they pretty much grew and raised everything they ate.

Like I said, I was a little kid at that point - 5, 6, 7 years old. I had learned to gather eggs, milk a cow, slop the hogs, feed the fish, hoe weeds, dig potatoes, pick strawberries and cherries. I knew where beef and pork and fried chicken came from. I watched milk straining, butter churning, honey harvesting, canning and preserving.

But where I spent a few weeks a Summer doing it, my Dad grew up living that way everyday, and he didn't want that for us. He wanted us to live in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood, with indoor bathrooms and central heat (central air still wasn't common even here in the South back then) and every convenience and ease of life. And he succeeded at that.

As the old people died off, so did the "old ways". My grandparents raised a garden up until my Grandpa passed away when I was around 11 years old and then Grannie, who also worked a full-time job, couldn't manage, or didn't want to, a garden and all the home-canning/preserving anymore. Grocery stores and (tin) canned foods were just too convenient.

Later on - probably, oh, sometime in his late 30's or early 40's - Daddy seemed to miss or wanted to return to his earlier life, or recapture "the old ways/days".  He bought 8 acres in the "country" and plowed up two large areas for gardens, built a barn and got some dogs, chickens, goats, rabbits and even a pony at one point.

Problem was, me and my sister were "City" girls. We maybe enjoyed the animals, to a point, but we weren't raised as farm workers, and wouldn't have anything to do with cleaning up after them or working out in the hot, humid heat in a garden. Just wasn't happening.
Eventually he gave up and moved us back to a nice house in a neighborhood.

Fast forward a few more years, me and my sister married and moved out, Mom and Dad bought a couple acres and Dad raised a small vegetable garden for him and Mom to enjoy some fresh veggies during the season.
I guess I just never really thought about it, but up until then I don't think I was even aware that you could plant a garden smaller than an acre, and not have to raise enough vegetables to be able to can and preserve for the Winter.

It didn't matter, though, because as far as I was concerned, there was no point in me even trying to make a garden of any size. I had attempted a few times over the years to have some houseplants but I never was able to keep them alive, so I knew in my heart I'd never be able to grow a garden.

Fast forward some more years and my Grannie - Dad's Mom, in north Georgia - passed away and after my Dad retired, him and Mom moved up there, where he decided to try Fruit Farming. He planted a few varieties of apple trees, pear trees, peach, plum, cherry, and apricot trees, blueberry bushes, raspberries, and grapes and muscadines.
Like everything he touches it seems, his Orchard did very well. 

Well, that kinda ticked me off...or, well, challenged me maybe. It was one thing that I couldn't raise flowers and plants like my Mom and her Mom, because I felt I was more like my Dad's daughter, in which case, I thought I should be able to grow stuff, too.

Some time after that, I started with a few vegetable plants (didn't have time to plant fruit trees and wait however many years it would take them to produce even though I like fruit much better than veggies for eating) just to see if I could keep them alive, if not actually get any yield.
I actually did manage to grow some actual, real food.
After that, J got more interested in gardening, too.

We've managed to actually grow some corn and tomatoes and a few other things here and there, but even so, our knowledge of gardening is not much more than being able to sprout a seed, and keeping the plant watered.

Case in point, when we moved to this house around 13-14 years ago, I had J take out a lot of flowering plants and bushes and stuff that was growing willy-nilly around the yard.  I attempted to get rid of several scraggly rose bushes growing in the front yard, but they keep growing back on their own. I finally gave up fighting with them.
But all I wanted was a nice, neat, clear yard with green...grass. We don't actually have grass, but more like a cover of clover and/or some sort of other weed(s). Whatever, it's green (mostly) and that's all I cared for.

After we started vegetable gardening a few years ago, and then I started the coupon/deal shopping, I ended up with a lot of packs of seeds. Mostly vegetables and some fruits like pumpkin, cantaloupe and watermelon, but also some herbs and flowers that I had no interest in.
I don't cook with herbs, and I actually said, "It's a waste to plant flowers because they don't grow food."

I think I also thought Bees' only purpose was making Honey.
Eventually I read about Pollination, and that we want to attract Bees to our gardens to Pollinate the plants.

Sadly, it still didn't occur to me, that flowers also attract Bees.  And flowers generally bloom a lot earlier than my garden plants.  I've had daffodils/jonquils and one of the rose bushes I couldn't kill already blooming.

If I had a yard full of flowers and/or flowering plants, I could have Bees in here, working on the Pollinating thing some time before the garden is ready for them. They'll already be here when the garden is ready for them.

Fugh. How could I have not known that? Thinking back, I remember being taught about it in school, but I didn't care about it enough to remember it. I didn't know how it applied to my life, when we could just go to the store and buy what we wanted to eat.

No comments:

Post a Comment