The following are some questions readers have emailed me:
Pat, of St. James, asks: Hey, how are your pansies doing? You know the ones you planted last fall to see if they could make it through winter? I want to buy some but wanted to know if they will survive
Charlotte: How could I forget, Pat, those lovely violet cousins have been blooming continuously since mid-February. I have a variety, from large, hybrid burnt red and purple ones to teeny tiny wild ones that somehow ended up in a bed with the larger, old-fashioned ones.
I kept them watered through winter, then gave them some pansy food when they started to bloom earlier this spring and they've been greeting me every morning ever since.
Since I bought these on sale last fall, I definitely got my money's worth and would recommend anyone who wants a long-lasting bloom.
Mary, of Rolla, asks: Can you share your strawberry pie recipe?
Charlotte: It's called “David Visits Charlotte in Early ’80s and Eats Strawberries and Nothing but Strawberries Strawberry Pie/Dessert”
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1.5 cups water
1 package strawberry jello
1 cooked pie shell
5 cups fresh strawberries
Taste strawberries. Cook sugar, starch and water until clear over medium heat, stirring regularly. Taste strawberries again. Add jello and cool. Check on strawberry freshness by sampling, in case something has changed in the last few minutes. Pour cooled liquid mixture over 4 (more or less) cups fresh strawberries either in dessert cups or pie shell. I prefer more strawberries and less gel so you can adjust the amount of strawberries to taste. Allow to set for an hour or so. Have you tested the strawberries? Serve with cream and garnish with strawberry and spearmint leaves out of the garden. Share remaining strawberries to tie “someone” over until pie is ready to serve, and to give to your favorite turtle.
Bill, of Rolla, asks: Have you seen Lefty Louie lately?
Charlotte: Lefty Louie the box turtle made it through winter and appeared again in my garden late April. Someone else asked me if I have him in a fenced-in area. I do not. He chose my garden and is free to come and go. I can usually find him in a certain area of my yard so I'm assuming that has become his territory.
Annette, of Newburg, asks: I finally got to catch up with some of my reading. I don't raise bees but I have been concerned that although I have huge numbers of red wasps, occasionally I see a bumblebee and last year had black wasps try to establish on my porch. I never (I mean never) see honeybees on my place. This concerns me. So, I was happy to see an article on bees. In your article you stated that the colony died from starvation, about an inch away from honey. What wasn't clear to me from your article is what kept the bees from the honey. Would you kindly explain what you meant?
Page 2 of 2 - Charlotte: Wasps are cousins to bees and are important pollinators, maybe even more so because some wasps are native to Missouri.
Honeybees are not native, although having honeybees improves conditions for native wild bees like bumblebees.
Honeybees literally shiver their way through winter, bunching up in a ball surrounding the one queen bee to keep her warm as they rotate around her. My colony got too small and they were not able to keep bunched up while they stayed warm so they literally starved only an inch away from food.
It's not uncommon, I'm told, but next winter I will make sure my colonies go into winter with higher numbers so they can make it. About half of all honeybee hives in the U.S. died last winter, in part because the drought stressed them — when temps go over 90 degrees F, plants don't produce pollen so honeybees don't have anything to feed babies or make honey.
Bees are definitely fascinating creatures. I'll bet if you put some sugar water — one part sugar to four parts water in a bird bath, you will see more wild bees around.
Charlotte Ekker Wiggins is a certified gardener sharing gardening tips in a changing climate at http://www.gardeningcharlotte.com. Copyright 2013 used with permission by Rolla Daily News - St. James Leader Journal - Waynesville Daily Guide. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Contact Charlotte at firstname.lastname@example.org.