Leafcutter Bees for Summer Pollination

Advice from Darren Morgan –

Right now is a great time to watch the garden develop, and ponder those inevitable western Oregon veggie questions:  is the first cucumber going to set before my lettuce bolts? and am I really going to get any melons this year?

While you can’t do anything about the inconsistencies of our upcoming summer weather, you can improve your odds of successful pollination and fruit set in your squash, melon, and cucumber plants by encouraging and hosting leafcutter bees.

Leafcutter bees are solitary native bees, late emerging pollinators, waiting until temperatures settle into the 80 degree range to finish incubating – perfect timing for your vining veggies.

Here are a few tips to encourage a good population of these gentle and beneficial insects:

Photo sourced from www.crownbees.com
  • Leafcutter bees need holes to nest in, and they usually don’t make their own.  You can host them in tubes, just like your mason bees, but they prefer a smaller diameter (around 6mm).  You can use your existing mason bee house – remove your filled and capped tubes to the shade and protection of a garage or storage shed, and replace them with smaller tubes.  If  your mason bee house is not near the vegetable garden, get or make another shelter to install there to put your tubes in – like mason bees, leafcutters don’t like to travel too far.
  • Leafcutters also need nest building material.  Unlike mason bees, leafcutters use cut up leaf material to seperate the egg chambers.  They prefer leaves that are not too coarse, fibrous, or thick, often using rose, ash, or lilac leaves. The damage from their activity is only cosmetic on otherwise healthy plants, but you might want to cap any freshly cut rose canes (they will sometimes bore away the inner pith to a depth of several inches and nest in there, leaving brown cane tips throughout your rose garden).
  • Be careful about pesticide use.  Use less toxic and shorter duration insecticides when necessary, and spray in the evening after bees have gone home for the night.

See us for all your pollinator needs – honey bee supplies, native bee nesting tubes, butterfly host plants, and more!

The Summer Vegetable Garden – What, How & When

Advice from Darren Morgan ~

As we finish out the days of June, look ahead to early July as a sort of mid-point in the gardening season in the Willamette Valley – the end of harvest for overwinter and spring crop plantings, and the last chance to plant main season summer plantings.

What Can I Still Plant?

With about 90 frost-free days remaining in the season, there’s plenty of time to plant beets, carrots, bush beans and leaf crops from seed and manage a late summer harvest.

It’s also not too late to make last minute selections of tomato or squash transplants with a reasonable chance of decent yields.

How Do I Help My Plants to Grow?


It’s important to make sure your garden plants have the nutrition they need.

Fertilize all new plantings thoroughly, and evaluate existing plants to see if they are still showing healthy and robust growth.  Six weeks or more since planting, many fertilizers are beginning to fade, either used by the plants, consumed by soil biology, or simply washing out with irrigation.

July 4th is an easy date to remember to follow up on your initial feedings – apply a granular vegetable fertilizer to the soil all around the plant or alongside the row and use your fingers to gently incorporate into the top soil layer. Now is the time to fertilize your perennial vegetable crops as well – rhubarb, asparagus, and artichoke plants. Watch our Youtube video, Fertilizing Vegetables to learn more.

It is very important that your crops are developing rapidly right now.   In addition to granular fertilizers, both new plantings and established crops can also benefit from more instantly available liquid fertilizers.  Mix according to label directions and apply both to the soil around the plant and directly to the leaves for a quick boost of nutrients that your plants can use right away.


Apply calcium lime (not dolomite) to plants sensitive to calcium deficiencies – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, and squash –  using the same technique as applying fertilizer.


Apply a layer of compost mulch to garden plants after feeding. A nice 2 inch layer of mulch is a great way to suppress weeds and conserve water for all plantings. Learn more about our mulch options HERE.


Using a summer insect barrier provides protection from insects and garden pests, thus reducing the need for pesticides. This lightweight fabric provides an effective screen against most insects such as thrips, aphids, whiteflies and insects that are virus carriers, and also larger pests like birds, rabbits and deer. Use the fabric to drape loosely over the plant bed, or over hoop supports to avoid weighing down your plants, and secure with landscape staples.

When Do I Plant Fall and Winter Crops?

One of the great joys of vegetable gardening in the Willamette Valley is the opportunity to continue the gardening through the fall and winter.

But to make the winter gardening magic happen you need to be planting right now for many crops, so your crops can attain the size and maturity they need to produce in the slower, colder parts of the year. View our helpful handout showing when to plant crops for fall and winter harvest, and overwintering for spring harvest,  HERE.

Learn More from Us on YouTube

Summer Planting for Fall and Winter Gardening

Class Recording from June 29th, 2023

Presented by Darren Morgan, learn about what crops to plant when, and tips on how to avoid or overcome some of the challenges of summer planting and winter growing including watering for germination, insect control, and frost protection.

Summer Vegetable Gardening at Shonnard’s Nursery: What To Do Now for Growing Success!

Come along as Angelee takes you on a tour of our vegetable raised beds here at Shonnard’s Nursery! From harvesting garlic to planting fall crops, learn what should be done now. Also find out tips about fertilizing and watering, as well as pest management, so your summer vegetable gardening journey is a success!

Celebrate Pollinator Week: Grow Yellow & Orange Nectar & Pollen Rich Flowering Plants

Since yellow and orange are the colors of Pollinator Week, we have put together a list of yellow and orange flowering plants that are great sources of nectar and pollen.

Yellow and orange are bright colors in the garden that easily catch the eye of people and pollinators. Though bees are known to be highly attracted to blues and purples, yellow and orange flowers are also enjoyed.

Yellow and Orange Flowers that Bees (and We) Love

There are a number of yellow and orange flowering plants that are great sources of nectar and pollen, so don’t leave these out when planting for pollinators!


Brassica plants – brocolli, kale


See our full list of plants for pollinators HERE.

Pollinator Week

National Pollinator Week is an annual event celebrated internationally in support of pollinator health. It’s a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what we can do to protect them. Utilize these resources to help you celebrate this year’s #PollinatorWeek (June 19-25, 2023).

Pollinator Week Toolkit >>