52 Weeks Fresh: Feed the Bees, Feed Yourself

By: Michael Blakeney

Bee populations are down significantly across the country and the world. Though the primary cause of Colony Collapse Disorder is still being debated, many experts believe pesticides, foreign parasites and other pathogens are the culprits. Busy pollinators, bees — especially honeybees — are crucial to our fruit and vegetable supplies. One way to strengthen bee colonies is to plant food sources for them.

Start with perennials, which are often deer- and rabbit-resistant, requiring little maintenance and providing long blooms for the bees with years of seasonal returns. Plant them in front of your vegetable garden to lure the bees. Black-eyed Susans, bee balm and St. John’s wort are particularly good options. Bees will be abundant — and so will your produce yield.

PRODUCE REPORT: It’s time to plant seeds for fall crops like beets and carrots. Plant lettuce seeds until early August; baby greens are a treat in late-season salads.

EAT WITH THE SEASON: For a simple roasted-beet salad using the grill, remove the leaves, slice beets in half with skin on and seal them in a foil envelope with a drizzle of olive oil, a few garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Place the foil directly on the coals. Fork test for tenderness in 20 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over a salad made from the leaves with vinaigrette. Chuck has an easy faux-roasted alternative.

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