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Mason Bees: 5 reasons you want them in your garden!

Garden Friends

You’ve heard about the bee… but have you heard about the mason bee? There are approximately 20,000 known species of bee on this planet, and 139 of those species are mason bees. If you’ve never heard of them, let me fill you in a bit because these little critters are amazing! I think they are amazing… can you tell? Lol!  I get excited about animals sometimes.  Let me share a little and then let’s see if you are a little excited too 😉

Here are some of the reasons I love mason bees:

1. Mason Bees are a solitary species, meaning they don’t live in a hive. Most people think of a hive when they think of a bee, but that’s because the honeybee lives in a hive. The honeybee is the most well known, but it is definitely not the only bee.  Mason bees are beneficial to us as gardeners because we don’t need to become beekeepers to enlist their help in our garden. 

2. Mason Bees are non-aggressive and don’t sting. Whaaat? A bee that doesn’t sting?  Yep, that’s correct. They can sting, but it’s incredibly rare. Honeybees have a queen and a hive to protect, and they will give their life to do so. Did you know that when a bee stings you they die? It’s true.. And sad! If they feel threatened, they will sting to protect their hive. Mason bees, however, don’t have a queen and a hive to protect… so they are nice and carefree. They are the safest bee around pets and children for this reason.

3. Solitary bees make up a little over 90% of the total bee populations. It’s true! The poor solitary bees… they don’t get any credit, yet they make up almost all the bees on the planet. Those honeybees get all the attention! You’ve almost certainly seen a mason bee and didn’t even know it.  

4. Mason Bees get their name because of their use of mud, like a mason. This is so cool!  Since they don’t have a hive to lay their eggs in, the females find natural holes or cracks in trees, logs, or any man-made structure they can. After they breed, the female starts laying her eggs in the back of the hole or crack.  Then she packs in pollen and nectar for food and puts a layer of mud to section off that egg.  Once the hole or crack is full, she then seals it with more mud to keep the eggs safe.

5. Mason bees have a 95% pollination rate vs. the honeybee’s 5%. Mason bees are the superheroes of the bee world. Honeybees collect pollen and nectar for their hive. Everything the honeybee gathers is literally for the hive. The mason bee, however, doesn’t have a hive to give the pollen and nectar to.  For this reason, the mason bee carries more pollen on its body when it is traveling from flower to flower. Also, the mason bee is a very furry bee, meaning that it has more hair that the pollen sticks to. The combination of having a furry body and not needing to give the pollen to a hive sends their pollination rate through the roof! 

OK… I’m checking in with you?…. Are you at least a little excited about these critters? They are kinda cool, right?

There are so many amazing animals on this planet. I truly believe that we can do a better job of living in balance with nature. The first step is learning about them! YAY! If you are reading this, it means you now know a little about the mason bees. The next step is to adjust what you are doing to help them thrive. It doesn’t always take huge effort to help many of the animals that live around us. Encouraging the mason bees to live in your yard and garden is a perfect example of that. To learn more about how to encourage mason bees to live in your garden, keep an eye out for our Friends In Your Garden micro-course coming soon.

Carrie Sylvester
Wildlife and Eco Educator

Carrie has lived and worked with animals her entire life. She is driven by a passion to help the animals and planet through her teaching. She began her professional career as aRegistered Veterinary Technician. After spending a total of 10 years in veterinary hospitals, she returned to school to study Animal Training, Zoo Keeping, and Wildlife Education. In these three categories, she has had the privilege of working at the Los Angeles Zoo with the California Condors, training dogs and many exotic animals (including a Wolf and Mountain Lion), and providing hands-on live animal education programs to thousands of children. Following her dream of providing impactful education, she has been the director of a Zoo Day Camp for children and founded a non-profit organization. This passion has now met the world of gardening as she fulfills another dream… having a big, healthy, organic garden!

Holiday Garden Wishlist Staff Picks 2022

Enjoying Your Harvest

Finding the right holiday gift for a gardener isn’t easy. Gifts that often appear helpful aren’t. And sometimes the ones that seem mundane can be fantastic. It can take years for growers to find gadgets and supplies they love. So how can friends and family find the perfect garden gifts this holiday season? We’ve got you covered! Here’s the top ten most useful and exciting products on the market for your holiday gift list.

Want the complete Garden Gift Guide? Download it for free here!

Ease the holiday frenzy so you can relax and have more time with your loved ones with the Grow Your Own Vegetables 2021 Holiday Garden Gift Guide.

Gift Guide 3D Image

Give The Gift of Time

Even when a garden is optimized, growers typically spend 40% of their time harvesting. That’s almost half our total time in the garden! That’s why this tool can make all the difference. Check out these 5 Blade Scissors!

Garden Like A Superhero

Okay, this tool isn’t going to make you more powerful than a locomotive, but you will be able to prune with 3 times the cutting power with the Fiskars 32-Inch PowerGear Bypass Lopper. Made with reinforced fiberglass composite, these loppers are lighter than the competitors.

It also sports a unique gear technology giving you more power without straining to cut. You can easily cut branches up to 2” (5cm) in diameter with this puppy.

PLUS, the corrosion-resistant, non-stick, fully hardened blade means it will last a lifetime. In fact, they stand behind their product with a lifetime warranty and their claim to pruning fame: “This superior- grade tool is lighter, stronger, and more powerful than anything you’ve ever used.”

The Small But Mighty Gift

For  smaller pruning tasks, check out our favorite hand pruner, the Bypass Pruner by Corona. Because no two hands are alike and this pruner was designed with that in mind. The flex dial allows you to set the pruners to match YOUR hand size and to adjust to the size branches you’re cutting, reducing hand fatigue.

Combined with the full steel core handles and ComfortGEL grips for superior comfort it’s no wonder these pruners were a 2017 finalist in the International Design Excellence Awards.

Garden Smarter, Not Harder with these INSTANT Raised Beds

Garden set ups are often extremely costly both in time and money. And if you’re just starting out, on a tight budget, or renting your home, you don’t want to spend a bunch of money and time on your garden set up. That’s why GYOV staff members consider these the best thing since sliced bread:

100 Gallon Raised Bed Grow Bags

These grow bags are just over 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter and 12″ (30cm) deep. They have reinforced handles for transport and are reusable lasting three years in normal gardening conditions. And the best part? They are only $29.99 each. That’s only $10 per year for a whole raised bed.

While these raised bed grow bags are great for anyone who wants to grow, they are perfect for gardeners just setting up and those on the go. They’re also great for gardeners with physical limitations since they eliminate heavy lifting of infrastructure material hauling. Best of all, they are ZERO labor. Buy, open, fill with soil media, and start growing!

Built to last, even commercial growers use them. With superior aeration and drainage to raised beds with solid sides. In fact, the only products that Bootstrap Farmer sells are ones they use on their farm. So if you’re looking for the perfect raised bed for your gardener, this 100 Gallon Grow Bag is where it’s at.

Want to get more than one? Get 3 for $69.99. AND. they’re sustainable and made of food safe recycled plastic and felt. Need something bigger? Check out the 200 gal bags.
 Need something smaller? They’ve got grow bags in 4, 5, 7, 10, 25 gallon sizes too.

The Micro-Dream Tray

Recommended by GYOV staff member and commercial microgreen grower, these trays are one of a kind! So many of the trays on the market are downright junk and you’ll be lucky if you get two plantings from them. Not these trays! Meet the most amazing microgreen tray on the market.

These extra strength 5×5 trays (AKA 801 inserts) are made of heavy duty, recycled, food grade, polypropylene plastic and guaranteed not to warp or break. We were skeptical, so we personally put them to the test! The result? We can’t imagine growing our micros without them ever again.

These trays are great for anyone wanting variety! Fitting eight 5×5 trays to one 1020 flat, these trays reduce environmental waste, AND save you money. The design provides better drainage than competing trays, saving you even more with reduced crop loss. As an added bonus, we ran them through the dishwasher with no problem. Say goodbye to flimsy non-sustainable trays for good with Bootstrap Farmers’ superior quality 5×5 Microgreen Trays.

The ULTIMATE Container Garden: The Garden Tower® 2

Grow up to 50 plants and vegetables in 4 sq. feet (1.2 sq meters) with this Garden Tower! We were blown away by how much thought went into the materials and design of this indoor / outdoor growing container.

The Materials
The Garden Tower® 2 is made of 100% food grade HDPE (non-toxic, BPA & PVC free plastic), FDA-approved dye and UV-protection for health, durability, and it’s recyclable! 💪🏽

The Unique Design
Supporting up to 1,000 lbs, the feet allow the tower to be anchored securely to any platform while still being able to rotate 360° for optimized sun exposure and growing in tight spaces

Planting pockets allow for easy planting and fast harvesting.

For mobile growing, you can get the Premium Caster Kit.

With a patented GT2 vermicomposting tube right down the center, you can compost directly into the tower where plant roots can access nutrients and oxygen from the perforated holes.

Compost release gate allows for seasonal removal of finished compost not used by the plants & provides for aeration from below.

Removable compost/nutrient tea drawer can collect up to two gallons of nutrient enriched water for another pass by plant roots.

The Garden Tower®2 is perfect for growing lettuces, herbs, kale, chard, smaller varieties of peppers and other plants with smaller root systems. To top it all off, it comes with a whopping 5-year manufacturer warranty. This container can last up to twelve years in the harshest of climates!

With all the thought that went into this special grow container, it’s no wonder it was recently named the “Worlds Most Advanced Container Garden.”

The only question we have for the company is, ‘Is there anything you didn’t think of!?’ Order this unique container at their website here.

Want the complete Garden Gift Guide? Download it for free here!

Ease the holiday frenzy so you can relax and have more time with your loved ones with the Grow Your Own Vegetables 2021 Holiday Garden Gift Guide.

Gift Guide 3D Image
NOTE:  This article contains affiliate links and Grow Your Own Vegetables, LLC may be compensated when you click and purchase through the links above. By purchasing through these links, you’re supporting our mission to help green the planet and create food stable communities across the globe. We only recommend products we LOVE and that help growers on their quest for a fresh food lifestyle.

[Stage 5] The weirdest spirit gardening secret I know

Garden Inspiration

What if I told you that you could have SO much abundance in your garden that you’ll start to RIP OUT plants to make room?

I know this may sound out there or far-fetched. But it’s totally possible when you live in the 5th stage of Spirit Gardening… AWE!

This one stage has the power to completely make all other stages feel like a warm up to true Spirit Gardening. I’ll explain how in a bit…

But first let’s talk about how we get to awe. 

If you’ve noticed a theme so far, kids know how to do this a lot better than adults! The whole world leaves us in AWE when we’re kids after all!

Remember thinking that your Dad was the strongest man in the world? 

Or that your Mom made the best mac and cheese EVER?

That’s because you were probably living in a state of awe. Everything is new and exciting! And there are all these people around us who have more experience at this “life” stuff. 

When you’re young… you might’ve felt like these people had superpowers or magic at their fingertips.

*spoiler alert* They probably didn’t use magic, but what they DID give you is much more powerful…

You might even be thinking right now… what could possibly be more powerful than superpowers??

One word… LOVE!

Yes, as a kid you might’ve had a lot of people sending love your way. And it feels AMAZING! 

You might’ve gotten bedtime stories before you went to sleep…

You might’ve gotten animal crackers and juice boxes when you needed a break during the day…

Or you maybe had play time and recess when it was time to move your body…These are all ways the world shows you LOVE when you’re young!

*sidenote* Why did we stop all of this as adults?? I think a regular nap & juice box time would solve a lot of the world’s problems and make us all happier too…

And here’s a not-so-surprising surprise… this technique works for your garden too!

You may have seen two plants Ikea did a study on in my Spirit Gardening talk at the Superfood Garden Summit. They experimented with “loving” one plant and “bullying” the other one. The result?

The plant they loved thrived and the one they bullied struggled:

The same lesson works in your own garden too. If you focus on what is thriving and love it, you will start to help it thrive even more! To be honest, I don’t know exactly how it all works.

But I’ve seen it work for my students too many times to think this isn’t real.

Somehow when you focus your love on what thrives, it expands!

It wants to grow even more for you and make even more delicious herbs and vegetables!

And if something doesn’t respond to your love, guess what?

You can actually PULL it from your garden. Yes, that’s right. You can take plants out of your garden at any time. 

Because here’s the counter-intuitive truth… the thriving parts of your garden will be more than happy to take up the space! This may seem totally crazy, but it works. And if the plant you’re pulling out is one you really want to harvest this year… don’t worry!

Sometimes just pulling out one plant that is doing so-so and replacing it with a fresh starter is enough. Eventually (and with enough love), you will get to harvest all the vegetables and herbs you want. All plants respond to love. But you don’t need to go crazy loving on your plants either (but you can if you want to!)

Sometimes just having your morning coffee with your plants and telling them what good things might be happening in your day is enough.

And if you want MORE examples on how gardeners like you love on their plants, come to the live Q&A session tomorrow, September 8th:

>>> CLICK HERE to save your spot for the Spirit Gardening LIVE Q&A

I’ll be sharing some of my favorite techniques for living in Stage 5 of Spirit Gardening, Awe.

It’s really a magical stage to be in once you practice for a while!

You don’t have to “pass through” the other stages to get to Awe either. I’ll show you how to reach stage 5 of spirit gardening even if you haven’t practiced the other 4 stages yet. Just come to the free, LIVE Spirit Gardening Q&A session.

I’d LOVE to see you there. 🙂

Peace and AWE,
Stacey

[Step 4] Better mindset, better garden

Garden Gifts

Gardening is the best way to get the freshest, healthiest food. 

But what if I told you that it turns out that gardening does a lot to keep your MIND healthy too?

Because studies have shown that gardening provides equally incredible health benefits for your brain including:

• Reduced stress and anxiety by making you feel more peaceful and content.
• Boosting your self-esteem when you see your hard work pay off with a bountiful harvest.
Improving attention span and concentration by focusing on a task without the usual indoor distractions.
Encouraging social bonding when you garden with others or share your harvests in your community.

And that’s just from “traditional gardening.” 

When you start to apply Spirit Gardening, it takes these health benefits and amplifies them. That’s why in the 4th stage of Spirit Gardening, Evolve…

…you focus less on action and more on feeling!

Today you’ll take what you’ve learned from the previous three stages and decide how to grow and evolve from it. 

Here’s how…

Stage 1: You had wonder and curiosity and you asked questions.
Stage 2: You listened to your plants and noticed things about them and your garden.
Stage 3: You took playful action.
Stage 4: Now your garden has responded to what you did and you’ll choose how you respond to your garden.

Your garden’s response may or may not be what you expected. Maybe you wanted bigger zucchini and a more abundant harvest. But instead, you got similar-sized zucchini from last year and less of them.

This is where the opportunity to evolve and grow lies. Because no matter what your outcomes are… you get to choose the “story” attached to what happens!

Many people react to not getting the result they wanted with guilt, anger, or shame. They feel like a failure. Like something they did caused them to fail. But I want to introduce a very special idea to you (one that’s taken me years to understand)…

What happens in your garden is not your fault. But how you choose to respond to what happened is your responsibility.

Your garden is an amazing place to connect with and work through these darker emotions. It’s okay and totally normal to feel that guilt, anger, and shame! But when you Spirit Garden you’re able to release those emotions because these feelings are just teachers to help you get closer to your goals next season.

…and you always win! Because you either got what you want or you gained a lesson.

In one case you got what you wanted (yay!). Or you learn a priceless lesson that you will never forget! 

In this stage, as you grow and evolve you’ll come to realize that your garden does so much more than nourish and rejuvenate your body. It nourishes and rejuvenates your mind as well. 

These are the things that are going to improve your garden. It isn’t focusing on tactics and strategies. It’s focusing on your feelings and the lessons you learn about life.

You’re going to feel more successful AND I promise that given enough time, you will see positive results.

Whether this sounds crazy to you or like the best form of therapy, this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Which is why I want to invite you to join me LIVE this Wednesday, September 8th for “How to Practice Spirit Gardening Q&A”.

>>> CLICK HERE to Register for the Live Spirit Gardening Q&A

I’ll be answering your questions about Spirit Gardening and how it can help improve your garden, your mindset, and your overall well-being.

This is the way to lifelong gardening success. This is the way to love your garden. This is the way to appreciate the plants, animals, and people in your life. 

So if you want to learn more about how you can change your gardening mindset with Spirit Gardening… I look forward to seeing you in this free live Q&A!

>>> CLICK HERE TO Register for the Live Spirit Gardening Q&A

Peace and carrots,
Stacey

[Stage 3] The secret that makes gardening fun

Garden Inspiration

Have you ever seen children playing house? (Or remember doing it yourself!) 

Pretending to be adults going about their everyday life. Going to work, making dinner, going shopping. They turn things that we adults often find dull and boring into play.

And they have a blast doing it!!

It turns out (and numerous studies have shown this) that imaginative play is how children develop their social, emotional, and language skills. 

Play is learning.

There are reasons that so many math games, reading games, and science games exist. You and I are designed to learn more when we’re having fun!

This is why Play is the 3rd stage of Spirit Gardening.

This is what makes Spirit Gardening different than learning from a book (or even any one of my other courses!)

Instead of thinking “I want to plant tomato seeds because that’s what everyone grows in my neighborhood,” you say “what do I think would be fun to grow?”

You go get the seeds of the plants you actually want to grow, you plant them, and then you see what happens.

In this stage, you want to take the curiosity and wonder questions of stage 1. Then combine it with the ease and observations you made in stage 2. Put them together and what do you get?

You get inspired action that feels like PLAY!

What have you noticed around your garden? What questions have those observations raised for you? Listen to the little intuitive hits, the ones that seem to come out of nowhere. Trust those and try them.

Maybe you saw a toad in your garden. It sits peacefully in the corner, observing just like you. Maybe you felt a connection with that toad and think about putting in a toad house.

You have fun with it! Maybe you create a cute little toad village. Even if it takes up some of your precious gardening space.

Your little toad friend moves into his new toad abode. After a few weeks, maybe you notice more toads hanging around your garden. You might also notice those caterpillars that were leaving holes in your broccoli leaves have mysteriously disappeared.🐸🍴🐛

When you approach gardening this way you’ll find surprising things happening. Some will be good, like toads acting as a natural pest control. Some not so good like dandelions making a home in your new flower bed. But here’s the beautiful thing about approaching your garden with a playful mind…

There’s no failure in play.

When you approach your garden in a playful way it will always feel like a success! You’ll be excited to come back and learn, to experiment, and see what happens. You might even discover a new gardening breakthrough!

So if you want more inspiration to turn gardening into play….

>> CLICK HERE to join me for the Live Spirit Gardening Q&A 

On September 8th I’ll be answering all your questions about Spirit Gardening, live! Click the link above to register so you don’t miss out. 

I’ll share even more ways you can add play and have fun in your garden.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Peace and Playfulness,
Stacey

P.S. — I saw this joke and had to include it in this email for you! 😉

[Stage 2] How do you “be ease”?

Garden Inspiration

Have you ever had a job where it felt like your boss might’ve been looking over your shoulder?

Like they were “just checking in” to make sure you’re working?

When you have a boss like this, it’s easy to pick out work that makes you “look busy”…

(Even when you don’t have any real work to do.)

It may sound strange, but this is relevant to your garden too…

Because many gardeners I’ve met treat their garden like a “job” where they have to constantly stay busy. Or they start to feel like they won’t get their payday of a harvest at the end! They say they HAVE to be working when they’re in the garden. 

And they put a lot of pressure on themselves for not doing enough planting, weeding, pruning, watering, harvesting…

Sometimes it can feel like their mantra is “There’s always SOMETHING to do!”

But is it actually true that working all the time gives you a better garden?

Well you might want to consider these truths…

A seed that gets the right amount of sun and moisture will sprout. 🌞🌱Nature flourishes and thrives without any help from us. I know it’s hard to believe, but sometimes doing less IS more. Especially in your garden.

That’s what today’s stage of Spirit Gardening, Ease, is all about.

But how do you “do ease?”  Here’s a helpful question to ask yourself…

When do you feel the most “at ease”? 😌

Think about going to your favorite coffee shop to meet your best friend. You feel relaxed and comfortable. You can tell your friend anything and not feel judged. You can even just sit in silence observing the goings-on around you and feel at peace!

That is “doing ease!” And it’s something you can achieve in your garden every day.

When we’re “at ease,” we’re most observant of the world around us. You can take in the little things in nature and, most importantly… listen to what your plants are telling you!

Being at ease is also a state of being with yourself. You’re trusting your intuition and what you feel is right for your garden. 

I’ve learned more about what my garden needs from taking a few minutes a day to just sit among my plants than I have in hours of diligent tending and weeding.

And going to your garden shouldn’t feel like going to work. It should feel like visiting with your best friend. You want to sit in your garden and observe. Breathe, relax and enjoy being among your plants.

So that’s your goal for this stage of Spirit Gardening. 

Have one day this month where you just SIT in your garden and be at peace instead of “doing” your next project.

Of course, if you want to know more about how to “do ease” in your garden. Or how to turn down the volume on the “boss” in your brain telling you what you should and shouldn’t be doing…

>> CLICK HERE TO Register for the Live Spirit Gardening Q&A

I’ll be doing a live Q&A on September 8th, answering all your questions about the 5 stages of Spirit Gardening and how they can help you get more joy and abundance from your garden.

I hope to see you there!

Peace and Ease,
Stacey

P.S.  I’ll be back tomorrow to show you how to have more FUN in your garden while growing even more than ever before!