Welcome to Mistik Acres.

We hope you are able to form a connection with us, and the products we grow and produce on the land we live and work with.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mason Bee Houses.

As time is going by, more and more seedling trays are being planted.  We have pepper's, leeks and celery in the vegetable category and many varieties of flowers and herbs growing at this time.  The perennials, rhubarb, and dahlia's are coming along nicely.  
We are busy getting ready for Gardenscape, taking place in Saskatoon March 30, 31 and April 1.  The following photos are houses for Mason Bee's, which we will have available to purchase at Gardenscape.  A Mason Bee is a solitary bee that lays it eggs in tubular cavities.  It is 70% more efficient at pollinating than a Honey Bee.  The Orchard Mason Bee appears black but is actually dark metallic green/blue in color. The female is approximately 14 mm in length, robust in appearance resembling a black fly. The male is smaller and more slender, and about 11-12 mm in length. Males are characterized by their long antennae and a tuft of light colored hair in the front of the head. At rest, the bee has its wings flush with its body. Osmia bees are effective pollinators because of their pubescence or hairiness. This enables them to carry pollen grains from flower to flower, causing pollination to take place. 

Mason Bee houses available in Cedar or natural Poplar.

The female Mason bee lives for about one month in the spring and she can produce one or two eggs a day. One tubular nest contain 7 - 11 cells where those laid first, in the back of the tube will develop into females while the few cells nearest to the entrance will be males.  When sufficient food has been deposited an egg is laid and the cell is sealed with a thin mud plug. The whole process is repeated for each egg and cell she creates until the tube is filled close to its entrance. Often the last cell is left empty to discourage predators. The tube is then closed with a thick mud plug at the entrance.  
A few days after the egg has been laid, the larva will hatch and will start feeding on the nectar and pollen reserves. The larva grows very rapidly and after 10 - 14 days most food reserves have been consumed. The larva will spin a cocoon and pupate. Later in the summer, the pupa will develop into an adult and will stay in the cell throughout the winter.
In early spring when the first warm days occur, male Mason Bees will first emerge. They chew their way through the mud plug with their strong mandibles. The males will stay near the tubular nests and wait for females to emerge. As soon as females appear, the males will attempt to mate. There is fierce competition between males and sometimes, a female is covered by a number of struggling males.

Closeup of the holes we drilled in the cedar wood blocks and the natural poplar logs for the Mason Bees.

Mason or Osmia Bees need access to mud. If a source is readily available near the nests, the females can be spared a great deal of time and labor. A patch of soil can be kept moist or a small bucket or tray can be filled with wetted soil.  Face nesting blocks as close to the southeast direction as possible to catch morning sun and affix it firmly so that it does not sway in the wind. It should be located at least three feet above the ground. 

The Orchard Mason Bee

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Planting Frenzy

We received our stock orders this week, which consist of bare root perennials, dahlia tubers, perennial and annual plugs, and the lily, crocosmia and freesia bulbs.

Bareroot stock packaged up for transport.

Bearded Iris perennial plugs.  They are looking very healthy.

 Rhubarb roots ready to be planted.  They are starting to show new growth.

Everything arrived in very good condition.  As soon as we get them home we inspect all the boxes and crates to make sure everything looks healthy.  Then the planting begins.  We plant all the bare root stock and dahlia tubers first and then move onto the flower bulbs and transplanting the perennial plugs into larger containers.  This is the largest order we have ever received, which will take a few days to get everything planted.

Dahlia Tubers potted (all 270 of them).
The largest quantity of  Dahlias available this year.  We are trying 6 new varieties, so really looking forward to seeing the new colours and varieties.

We are trying our hand at forcing lily bulbs this year.  The crates we receive our plant stock in are lined with cardboard, and then a layer of potting soil is added.  The lily bulbs are then placed into position on top of the soil base (see photo above).  The bulbs are then covered with more soil and are then placed in a warm environment.  New growth will start to become visible in a few weeks.

Lily bulbs all planted.
The bulbs will flower well ahead of the lilies planted in the field, which will provide us with an early crop of fresh cut lilies.

A couple of new lilies we are growing this year.
Tiny Orange Sensation
The photo above is a newer variety of Asiatic Lily, called Lily Looks.  They grow anywhere from 12-16" tall , which makes them an ideal candidate to grow in pots.  The Tiny Orange Sensation is yellow with maroon speckles, 14" tall, 5-7 flowers per stem.  Requires full sun and hardy to Zone 3.

Trebbiano is a L.A. Hybrid, which combines the best features of the Asiatic Lily and the Longiflorum Lily.  They include the superior colour range of the Asiatics, but large waxy flat or bowl shaped flowers with subtle fragrance of the Longiflorum.  The Trebbiano pictured above will grow to 36-48" tall and is hardy to Zone 3.

Update on our feathered friends.....a male Bluebird has arrived this weekend along with a pair of Robins.  We keep track of the birds Spring arrivals to the farm, and this is the earliest we have ever seen a bluebird.  They usually only arrive at the very end of March or beginning of April. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Pat has been preparing for Gardenscape weekend, March 30, 31 & April 1.  We are participating in Gardenscape along with several other Farmer's Market vendors. Gardenscape is a show and sale of all things Spring.  We will feature bird houses, bat houses, and Mason Bee houses.  Pat has been busy building the houses from barn board and cedar. 

Bat houses
We will also be displaying hypertufa planters, potted with succulents along with the various sizes and shapes of containers.  Pussy Willow branches will be available in various heights and bunches.  Hope to see you there.  The smell of dirt will be in the air.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Shrubs and Perennials

Dwarf Blue Leaf Arctic Willow

The Salix purpurea 'Nana' pictured above is the last of the shrubs we will have available this Spring at the Saskatoon Farmer's Market.  This shrub makes an excellent accent plant with it's unusual blue, fine textured foliage.  The twigs turn purple in winter and is easily shaped by pruning.  According to Christopher Newsholme, in the book Willow: The Genus Salix, salix purpurea is bitter and unpalatable to livestock and rabbits.  (It will be tested on deer at our farm.  Hopefully they find it unpalatable also.)   It grows 5-7' tall, with maroon coloured new growth.  Requires full sun to partial shade and hardy to Zone 2.

We have ordered a lot of new perennials for Spring 2012.  I have showcased a couple of varieties available below, and will continue to list them all as the weeks go by.  I have also started quite a few alpine perennials from seed and will showcase those once they have grown into larger plants.

Helenium autumnale 'Double Trouble' (PP18,206)

This new variety of Sneezeweed is a breakthrough with large yellow double flowers.  The centres are a prominent gold and are surrounded by frilly rows of bright yellow.  The flowers are produced throughout the summer and are an excellent cutflower.  Grows 30-36" tall, requires full sun and hardy to Zone 3.

Helenium autumnale "Ruby Tuesday" (PP18,234)

This variety features very dark red flowers that almost appear as black upon opening.  The petals are quilled  and bloom from July to August.  Grows to 30" tall and requires full to part sun.  Hardy to Zone 3.

Enjoy the snowy day we are having today.