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Old Fashioned Pollination

Susan BerryOne of the concerns for today's farmers and gardeners is the decrease of beneficial insects and pollination for vegetable crops. Many farmers and even home-gardening enthusiasts have resorted to establishing their own honeybee hives to guarantee pollination of their gardens. This is a wonderful practice, but it can be costly and time consuming. For some small gardeners, the risk of loss and cost of establishing hives can outweigh the benefits.

As I pondered ways to increase pollination and attract more beneficial insects to my gardens, I asked myself, "Self, how did they do it in the old days?"

I received an answer and some ideas a few weeks later while conversing with a client of mine.

I work as a caregiver to the elderly. One of my clients is a lady that is a spry, 99 years young. She grew up on a farm here in NC. One day while sharing gardening stories, I mentioned the honeybee enthusiasts, and she looked at me rather strangely. When I asked her what she thought of that, she replied, "Well, why not just let Mother Nature bring in the bees?"

She then went on to tell me about her mother's wildflower patches. She said back in her day, neighbors and church folks would share different flowers from their gardens with one another. Exchanging clumps of flowering plants was commonplace. The local hardware stores also sold packets of wildflower seeds. Her mother would stick the clumps here, there, and everywhere around the edges of their yard and crop fields.


She also told me about the wild blackberries growing the length of their property. Every other year or so, her father would clear out a path behind the blackberries so that the children could pick from both sides of the brambles.

"Now I know that wild blackberries attract bees, 'cause I got stung many a time picking berries for my mom to make jam," she added to her already encouraging story.


This started a vision in my mind of my gardens being edged in lovely flowers and raspberry plants. Basically, this would be a great form of companion planting, not to mention add beauty to our veggie crops. I have had some enthusiastic sage plants go to flower on me, and I noticed the bees come and enjoy the flowers. I also noticed the beauty it added to my garden. But it didn't dawn on me to allow some of my herbs to go to flowering intentionally.


Old-fashioned, back-in-the-day methods can be our intentional path to natural, organic gardening. And wouldn't it be wonderful to also get back to sharing these lovely plants with our neighbors?

Some pollinator enticing flowers and herbs to consider: Aster, Fennel, Bee Balm, Basil, Sage, Mint, Lavender, Thyme, Nasturtium, Cosmos, and many more.

I will be redesigning my garden this year and incorporating wildflowers and berries to invite pollinators to my crops. After all, Mother Nature often does know best!

Happy Gardening,

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Visit and "like" Susan's "Meet The Author" page on FB and check out her new book "Inspired Gardening" available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

A New Firepit on the Homestead

Susan BerryIn every home we have lived in, we have built an outdoor fire pit. And our homestead now is no different. We hope to remove some trees and landscape the yard surrounding the house next year. There was an overgrown unsightly clump of trees in the front yard that I hoped to take out and seed for lawn. When we started cutting into the mass of brambles and dead branches we discovered that the bed was edged with large flat stones. Well, we were very happy to discover these beauties since we had just discussed saving up for store-bought landscape stones to build a fire pit in our backyard. Here is the bed that we removed after taking the stone edge down. 


After moving all the stones, we realized we had enough for two new projects. One was to build the fire pit. We like dry stacking but decided for safety we would mortar the top layer in place. 


Our friends came for the celebratory first fire.


We thought we would start a new Social Media site, Feetbook!


With the remaining stones I built a perennial bed next to the carport.

stones2  stones

stones7This took me about four days since I was working on it alone. The fire pit took three hours with the help of a friend. But it was very rewarding to re-purpose the stones on the property and get two beautiful new rock features for the cost of just physical labor. I hope to fill the bed with Gardenia bushes, daylilies, perennials and herbs.

I used aged manure from some old raised beds that I am relocating in the gardens, then layered old coop cleanings and carrot tops that were removed from two bushels of harvested carrots. This was all layered and filled in the bed nicely. 

The Girls, of course, thought that Mom made the new garden just for them to play in so they helped mix up the compost and stuff as I layered. 


I love receiving plants from friends and making a Friend Garden where I can look at the lovely plants and think of the dear friend who gave it to me. I was thinking about bartering with folks who would like some of our organic asparagus crowns in exchange for a few perennial plants. If you are interested in trading, please contact us via our Facebook page. 

My husband, Don, didn't know of my plan to build a fire pit and so I surprised him when he came home. This was our first romantic fire the day I built it, just the two of us. He loves it!


What projects have you completed on your homestead by re-purposing? Share with us, we would love to see your inspirations!

Watch for our next re-purpose project when we turn an old shelter that was here when we moved in into a pig shelter for our new pigs that we will be adding to our homestead in the spring. Part of our Barnraiser Project to grow our farm. 


Please consider gifting to our Barnraiser Project. In exchange for your generous gift, we are offering great rewards like asparagus crowns, seeds and 30-minute gardening consultations. Follow the link below. 

Itzy Bitzy Farm Antique Tractor Build and Pig Shelter

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