What can you do when hummingbirds become prey for wasps and mantises? Mike McGrath, host of You Bet Your Garden, will try to help these beautiful little birds survive predation. Plus your fabulous phone calls!
Question of the Week
I have managed to attract a colony of Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds to my inner-city patio for the past three summers, but I’m having trouble with two predators: Aggressive wasps that compete at the feeders and occasionally try and sting the birds; and a garden friend turned enemy, the Praying Mantis, which I understand are wonderful to have in the garden, and as you know are a protected insect species here—but they are also one of the top predators of hummingbirds. Can you please give me some advice as to how to deal with these problems?
Wilma in Philadelphia, PA
Photo: From flickr user Cindy See
Highlights from show for March 21, 2015:
John in Allentown, PA wants to create an edible landscape consisting of cranberries, honey berries and other edibles. The trees will be bare root and he has no idea what to since they are arriving in very cold weather. Mike tells John that after receiving them John should mist them with water and store them in a cool place. When John is prepared to plant the trees he should soak the roots for a couple hours prior to planting. This will hydrate the roots. Prune anything dead that will stimulate growth.
Apple and Walnut Trees
Ferell from the Catskill Mountains in NY State is curious as to what she can do to see better results on her apple and carpathian walnut trees. Mike states that for Ferell to receive fuller, and richer apples she must preen and clear about half to three quarters of the apples after they’ve formed in the spring. Unfortunately, according to Mike, Most English walnuts won’t do as well or produce to their full potential in her area, because they are mostly grown on the west coast. He recommends walnuts such as hickory nuts for farell to produce in upstate NY. However, she may continue to grow them but she should beware of the toxic chemical that walnuts trees produce in their leaves and roots called juglone. Therefore, it is advised to not plant other plants near it.
Karen from Maryland wants to know what the proper soil layers are to start an organic garden in raised beds that are prone to having moles and voles. Mike assures Karen that moles do not crawl up into raised beds and eat plants; they eat grubs and earthworms. However, voles eat roots of plants and it is excellent that she has her beds about 14 inches high. To properly prepare the garden, Karen should cover grassy areas where the frames will be dropped with a sheet of card board. Rich black top soil and pearlite should be mixed equally, not layered, in the frames. If desired, hardware cloth is best for lining the frames.
Archie in Jacksonville, NC feels that Mike didn’t properly discuss certain grafting techniques during a call that was recently on the show. Archie used to graft apple trees with his Grandfather in Ohio. Mike agrees that he should have added that grafting was an option to this previous caller and applauds this old way of gardening. He adds that people forget and only rely on the new customs of gardening and that there are many extraordinary old techniques that work.
Diana in Jackson’s Gap, Alabama wonders why this peculiar bluebird perches on her deck, tries to fly into her glass door, and falls down, continuously. Mike answers her by highlighting the fact that birds, in wooded areas, only see the reflection of the woods. Also, he adds that it can be another type of bird activity: it is a male bird and sees his own reflection, thinking it is another male bird trying to attack. The Bird Saver product we talked about on the show will not resolve this situation where the bird sees an up close reflection. To resolve the case, hanging a plastic mirror nearby, the bird will be distracted. Also, shades that can be pulled down will not allow the bird to see the ‘other bird’.
Donna from Dowingtown, PA has a rich and very bountiful plum tree that unfortunately has black knot. Mike first instructs Donna to remove the worst branches on the tree. Mike says to mulch the tree with compost and continue with aggressive pruning of dead branches. Also, clay sprays are very good to help increase her yield.
Caterpillar Eating Pecans
Dennis in Oklahoma City, OK wants to protect his trees from caterpillars that have eaten his pecans the prior year. Mike wants him to use clay spray a couple times a season and spray the nuts after the fruit has formed for it provides a physical barrier. Mike adds that Dennis should have the pest identified, researched and learn their life cycle to have some knowledge on how to get rid of them.