I was watering the garden last night when I felt something sting my leg under my pants. A few seconds later, it happened again, a few inches away. I shook my pants leg and millions (ok, it was actually only 5 or 6) bees flew out from my pants leg!
Although I have no history of bee sting allergies, I had my resident EMT (my 16 year old son who just passed his EMT certification test) check out my legs. He said that there were 2 obvious bites with minor swelling, gave me an ice pack and said I would survive.
When a honey bee stings a person, it cannot pull its stinger back out. It leaves behind not only the stinger, but also part of its abdomen, resulting in the death of the bee. When a bee dies, it releases pheromoes which prompt other nearby bees to attack, so one sting often results in multiple stings.
Bee stings contain the toxin melittin which causes the pain associated with bee stings. They also contain histamine which causes itching, just like a mosquito bite.
People have differing responses to the stings of various insects, and a person who is allergic to bees could potentially have a dangerous anaphylactic response – hives, throat swelling, inability to breathe – that would require an ambulance ride to the hospital.
What to do?
- The first step is to remove the stinger itself in any way possible – some people pinch the skin, others scrape off the stinger. The quicker this occurs, the less toxin can be delivered.
- After that, pain and swelling can be reduced with a cold compress.
- Any sign of anaphylaxis should be followed by a call to 9-1-1!
If the pain of the sting doesn’t get better after a week, or if the localized swelling covers an area greater than 3 or 4 inches, a doctor should be seen.
Of course, the easiest way to protect yourself is to avoid being stung in the first place. Bug repellent should do the trick, and I know I’ll be wearing some the next time I water my garden!
What to do in the Garden this week – How’s your garden growing? We’ve had a dry few weeks, ending with buckets of rain this weekend, preventing us from getting much done outdoors. Here’s what’s on our to-do list this week:
- Begin spraying vulnerable roses
- Plant herbs in pots or directly into the ground
- Start sowing salad crops at 3 or 4 week intervals all summer so that you always have some to harvest
- Sow seeds of: spinach, radish, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts
- Mow lawns regularly
- Treat problem weeds with weed killer
- Tidy up hedges
- Rake out dead grass from lawns
Good news! This weekend is the day that Burpee says is the average date of last frost here in Union County, NJ! That doesn’t mean, of course, that we’re out of the woods yet, but odds are that your plants will be fine outside now. Plants may need to be covered if a frost is forecast, so pay attention to the weatherman for at least another few weeks!
What can you plant in the garden? This week, it’s safe to directly sow the following seeds into the ground:
- broccoli raab
- brussel sprouts
- salad greens
If you want to grow eggplant, tomatoes, or peppers this year, it’s time to start the seeeds indoors if you haven’t already. It’s also time to get the planting beds ready for those vegetables!
Every spring, my thoughts turn to the garden. This is the year my flowers beds will be immaculate and my vegetables will be abundant! Here’s what to do in NJ:
- This week, I divided up all of my hostas. Hostas can be split right down the middle with a spade and then half can be removed and planted somewhere else. They’re so hardy, and fantastic in shady areas. Just keep the newly planted half well watered for at least the first few weeks.
- It’s also time to divide the tubers of irises. Before the stems get too big and leafy, dig in with the spade and bring up a few tubers. They start to get crowded after a few years, and this is the second time I’ve divided them since planting about a half dozen seven years ago.
- It’s rose pruning time. Before new growth gets a chance to sprout, take away leggy stems and shape the plant the way you want them. The cuttings can be rooted in soil – water frequently – some people even cover them with a clear glass jar to keep evaporation low if the weather is warm.
- Peas, lettuce, spinach, and potatoes can all be sown directly into the ground now.
- Tomatoes, cucumber, and peppers can be sown in pots indoors.
Cleanup and Miscellaneous
- Sharpen your tools.
- If you need to build raised beds or put borders around new beds, now’s a good time.
- It’s too soon to put down mulch because it will trap cold and moistness next to roots and seeds and kill them. But it’s not too soon to clean up leaves and debris that got left behind over the winter.
- If you haven’t started a compost pile yet, what are you waiting for? Take a $5 plastic storage bin, drill a few holes in it, and then place it in a corner of the yard. Add fruit and vegetable peels, as well as coffee grinds and loose tea (no meat or dairy products, please!) whenever you have them. By the summer you’ll have nutrient rich soil to place around plants.
This is my favorite time of year to plan the garden. What do you want to plant this year?
What you do in the garden this winter can have big payoffs in the spring. Here are the top 6 tips for maintaining your winter garden:
1. Remove any weeds, being sure to pull the roots. Weeds are easier to spot in the winter when other plants have died back, and pulling the weeds now will prevent them from taking foothold in the spring.
2. Cut your lawn short. Not only does this make last minute leaf removal easier, but it also keeps the grass healthier.
3. Plant and fertilize bulbs. Tulips provide a bright splash in the spring and now’s the time to plant them!
4. Prune any damaged branches.
5. Remove and store tender tubers like dahlias and canna lilies.
6.Empty rain barrels and any other device that might store water which might expand when frozen, damaging the container.