Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Old Watering Hole

(There was supposed to be a video of my bees on the fountain, but I've been trying since last night to upload and it just won't do it. So please look at the older post of the bees on the fountain and imagine it in motion. Thankfully, I'm a much better gardener and beekeeper than I am computer genius.)

I posted a picture of the bees on the fountain a few days ago, but I thought this little video might be entertaining. The girls are thirsty! They are also very protective of their water source. Much buzzing going on around my head. They are capping honey in the top super on Walter, and Ora is filling out nicely in the brood box. I had added a super to Ora a couple of weeks ago, but decided a few days later to remove it. I had inspected and there was not a lot going on . Anyway, this past Saturday I put it back on. There are 7 frames filled in the deep hive body and I didn't want to risk them running out of room as they fill out. I'll also add another super to Walter this week. We still have sourwood and goldenrod to bloom and there are lots of flowers and vegetables blooming in the garden and surrounding property.

My resident handyman spent the afternoon building shallow supers. He had done some remodel work to the house during the winter and had saved some nice pine siding. Being an engineer, he had no problem reading the plans and building the supers from this wood. You can find the plans at http://www.beesource.com/. Tomorrow morning I'll head to the farm store to purchase frames and foundation. Guess I know how I'll spend my afternoon. But it's a nice way to spend a day. I love to build frames.

Just got back from the store. Very breezy this morning and the temperature is a wondeful 68. Great afternoon to build frames.

I hope to start harvesting summer squash and cucumbers from the garden this week. The lettuce is almost gone. It got hot - well hot for us anyway - 82!! We need rain. The pole beans are 7 feet tall and covered with blooms. It may be the end of July before they are ready, but I can green beans and will have plenty for the fall and winter months. I planted bush beans for the first time this year, and they are doing well. I'll do a whole bed of them next year. They are the Blue Lake variety. My tomatoes are small but pretty. Most are cherry variety. Again, it will probably be late July or August before they are ripe. I have a stepping stone at the entrance to the garden that says "Patience". I read it and remind myself everyday.

I've been harvesting new, red potatoes, but they are about gone. One of the pests I didn't plan on having this year was a chipmunk. They have eaten almost as many potatoes as we have. I've been reading about growing potatoes in bags that you hang and will probably try that next year. As I've said before, I don't give up easily on anything in the garden. The one good thing that's come from the potato bed is tons of earthworms. When I planted, I added lots of compost and several layers of wheat straw. When I push back the straw, I see worms that are about the size of small snakes. What an incredibly fertile bed that's going to be next year. BTW, sometimes I do see a snake. There is one just about every morning. I wish I could see a chipmunk hanging out of it's mouth. =) (Sorry if I offended any small varmint lovers out there.)

I know this has been a very strange post, but sometimes things just work out that way. Just gives us a reason to laugh.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Brassicas and Other Garden Notes

I saw this gorgeous bug flying around in the garden and I was fortunate enough that it sat patiently while I took some pix. Enlarge and look at the pattern in the wings. I wonder if it's some kind of dragonfly? Much earlier in the season, I planted broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage. None have done well. Out of the 9 broccoli plants, I was able to harvest 4 heads before they bolted. It was very good. Wish it had done better. The cabbage was showing no signs of forming a head and was wilting in the heat (80) so this morning I pulled it out. The brussel sprouts were tall, green plants but no sign of sprouts. So it's also gone. I'm not sure why the brassicas are not producing for me but I saw a friend this past Saturday and she said couldn't grow broccoli and cabbage either. If I decide to try again next year, and I don't give up on anything very easily, I will plant earlier. I always risk the chance of late freeze and snow, but I think brassicas can stand some cold. One side of my compost box is almost empty so all the plants I pulled will go in there and will be a good green start to that pile. Nothing wasted. Will be doing some reading on brassicas before next season.

I spent the morning putting out compost and fertilizer in the garden. The green beans got a dose of fish emulsion. Peppers and eggplant also got fish emulsion along with some compost in which I mixed triple superphosphate. I have a couple of pretty bell peppers and I want to keep them healthy. Some of the tomatoes got just fish emulsion. Others got f/e plus the compost mix. Also added the same to the cucumbers and squash. This is the first really good fertilizing I've done since planting. Some years I have used lots of Black Kow manure on the garden but this year I'm experimenting with just using compost that I make and the basic fertilizers I have mentioned. Trying to save money.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Walk Around My Garden

I have a cold and didn't feel like working in the garden today but because I can never stay out of my garden for long, I took my camera and just enjoyed the view. Hope whoever is looking will, too. Remember to click on. Butterfly or maybe moth, I don't know, on the wild daisies.

Roses on the arbor at the garden gate. I'm not very good with roses, but these are doing well.

There is a mason bee on the catmint. It's not a very good picture of a mason bee but the reason for that is that if you think honeybees are always in motion, think honeybee on lots and lots of caffeine and you have a mason bee. They are nesting in the box I put up a couple of months ago.

Life is so hard for Kobe, relaxing under the catmint. Kobe very seldom goes out of the house, but he's smart enough to know to head for the catmint when he does. Good stuff for cats!

Honeybee on Bachelor Button. This is one of their new favorites. If you ever plant a Bachelor Button, you have them for life. I never appreciated them until I saw how much the bees love it. Being a beekeeper gives you a whole new perspective on gardening.

I can't believe I'm actually going to admit this after complaining for the past few months, but we needed rain. We got it last night. A storm blew in across the mountains from Tennessee and we got a couple of inches. It's thundering in the distance now so I guess round 2 is on the way. I posted the June picture in the sidebar and I'm amazed at what has happened in a month. My garden is ordered chaos at best. I like it like that even though my husband begins to worry about this time of year that I might not make it back to the house. I ofter hear him humming "Down In Jungleland." Thanks Bruce Springsteen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hive Update

I have a fountain in the yard and the bees are taking lots of water from it. Click on the photo for the best view.

I checked the hives this morning and everything looked good. Ora is not filling out much, but this was a split and progressing much like Walter did last year at this time. I had a strange occurence a few weeks ago, and I'm not sure the bees in Ora didn't swarm. I know there was a swarm because I heard and saw it, but the bees didn't cluster in the tree they swarmed to. At this point I'm beginning to think it might have been Ora, because Walter is thriving. I asked my experienced beekeeper friends and they said it is possible for a hive to swarm and then return to a hive because maybe the queen did not leave with them or maybe the queen was killed during the swarm, i.e., eaten by a bird. Anyway, I'm not concerned about Ora. I should also note, I'm not raising bees for honey, but for pollination. If I get honey, I'll be very pleased, but I won't take honey from the hives for my purposes if the bees need it to survive the winter.

I had added a super to Walter a couple of weeks ago and in my post on May 27 (I think) the comb was just being drawn out. This morning, the comb in most all the frames is drawn and there is lots of honey in the middle frames being capped. Walter struggled last year because of drought and dearth, but I definitely think I'll get lots of honey from this hive this year. There is already enough honey in the first super to leave for the winter. Again, I won't take what I don't need.

Beekeeping is turning out be such a rewarding, learning experience for me. I have had to turn down lots of bees this spring because I didn't have the boxes built to hive new swarms. I'll spend the winter building bee hives.
As an afterthought, the trees that are or have been in bloom recently are tulip poplar, locust and holly. I'm beginning to see the bees working in the flowers that are blooming in the yard and garden. The mountain laurel also bloomed heavily but I didn't notice much bee activity in them. I'm told that is a good thing since mountain laurel is poisonous. However, I'm also told nobody would eat laurel honey because it tastes so bad. Also, my blueberies are loaded with berries but the honeybees didn't pay much attention to them. The bumblebees did all the work there.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dinner From The Garden

The new potatoes, boiled and covered in butter and parsley, were delicious. The lettuce has been beautiful this year. The temperature has barely reached 80 yet so it hasn't bolted. The green beans I served came from last year's garden. I love to can. Hopefully, the fresh honey will come soon. Walter Bee is doing quite well.