Q. I’m concerned about our bee population, and I’m hearing a lot about bee poisoning. How can I avoid this?
A. If you are applying a pesticide on your property, read the label and look to see if there is a threat to bees. Consider an alternative chemical if the threat is high. Spray from dusk to evening, when the bees are returning to their hive and no longer foraging. Also, consider planting a diversity of flowers that bloom from early spring to fall to increase food availability for native bees.
Q. Do you have any tips on how to keep my rabbits cool in their hutches during hot weather?
A. As with all livestock, a continuously available source of cool water is essential so the animals don’t get dehydrated and stressed. In addition, it is also important that shade is provided for the rabbits in their hutches. You can enhance the shade by making curtains of light, breathable material as well.
Another great way to keep the rabbits cool is to fill old plastic bottles with water and freeze them (like water and soda bottles). Place them in the hutches just before it starts to get really hot outside. The rabbits will lie close to the bottles, keeping them nice and cool. On days that are really hot, it may be necessary to change out the bottles after the water has melted.
Q. I have read in gardening books that adding organic matter will make my soil more acidic. Is this true, and do I have to worry that my garden soil will become too acidic if I keep adding organic matter every year? Should I add lime to my soil to counteract the effects of the organic matter?
A. It is basically a myth that adding organic matter to the soil makes it more acid. Research has shown that organic matter reduces acidity, making the soil slightly more alkaline. Most area garden soils are neutral to alkaline with a pH of 7 or above. Most vegetables and annual flowering plants do best when the soil pH is slightly acid, or about a pH of 6.5, but still grow well in our slightly alkaline local soils. Unless a soil test indicates your soil is acidic, do not add lime. If soil becomes too acid or too alkaline, certain soil nutrients are not available to plants.