Posts tagged ‘beekeeping’
I was away for a couple of weeks and even with the help of a super house/garden sitter – the weeds had taken a hold over some of the beds! It took me all last week (and a lot of sweat) to get it under control, but now I’m back on schedule – I have started to implement the fall/winter vegetable plan.
I sowed some brassicae in the cold frame (and covered it with burlap for shade). I need to dig up some potatoes to make room for the transplants in three weeks or so. After doing the Weed Management part of the County Extension’s course in Organic Vegetable Production, I know that I should prepare the beds two weeks in advance, then slice off any pesky weeds that sprout just before I transplant or sow more seeds.
I emptied a small bed of strawberries since they didn’t produce very well and were infected with a fungal disease – I am going to use it for carrots. My best carrot crop ever was from the cold frame this year, sown in February and picked in June – the rest of my attempts this season have proved fruitless (or carrotless), however I am determined to work out the best way to grow them in the main garden, and I want to try them after the frost – they are supposed to be really sweet then. Here is my plan – I will build up the sides of this small square bed and fill it with composted leaves and bought compost. Then sow the carrots and leave them under a board or burlap for a couple of weeks – then flame weed the bed just before the carrot seedlings come up… we’ll see!
On the harvesting front – we have enjoyed an abundance of blueberries – so juicy and nice, raspberries (don’t know if they are good, since I don’t eat them) and green beans have been particularly good – I read in the Victory Garden cookbook that after steaming, you should dry them out in a dry saucepan before adding butter or whatever else – it works! They are delicious!
I’m a bit worried about the tomatoes – they look OK but they do have signs of some disease at the bottom – unfortunately due to a bad reaction to a wasp sting, I wasn’t able to attend the Disease Management part of the Organic Vegetable Production course, so I’m not sure what it is – I’m hoping it is not Early or Late Blight. What I did learn from reading the literature though was that once a plant shows signs of disease, it is generally too late to do anything about it by spraying, so I have been removing infected leaves (in dry weather) and putting them under plastic to kill them (spores cannot live on dead plant tissue). My Early Girl tomatoes are not living up to their “before July 4th” expectation – still green.. I guess you have to have a greenhouse to get them that early. The trellising technique seems to keeping the growth of the tomatoes under control, the real test is when the plants are full of fruit and it rains like crazy – then we’ll see if they are still standing (unlike the cages that normally fall down).
I’m very happy with all my companion planting – the borage, marigolds, catnip, alyssum and many others are all attracting the good bugs – I haven’t seen that many “bad bugs” so far. An interesting development, whilst I was away, the radishes I planted around the squash and the cucumber went to flower and the honey bees love them! I have left them in place, they even have seed pods on them, so I might save the seed (have to check they are not hybrids first).
Ouch! I was stung by my bees for the first time today – it was only a matter of time.. serves me right for thinking (and telling other people) that I hadn’t been stung yet. The story goes that my husband Graham was wearing the proper beekeeping head gear (since I am trying to persuade him that he wants to be the main beekeeper in the household) and I had on a hat with a bug net around it – which normally works fine. But today, as I was trying to look at the each frame to try and spot the (snow) queen, the sun was reflecting off the screen so, I (unwisely as it turned out), decided to lift the protective layer and boom! An angry bee (never mind the birds!) decided to seek it’s revenge on my cheek.
I would like to say that I acted calmly but NO! I screamed and ran away and adding to my panic was the buzzing sound emanating from my hair – as I was ripping the hat off and scrambling to get my hair out of it’s bun – I managed to really scrape my forehead with my nails – which, as it turned out, was a worse inury than the bee sting.. I didn’t know if I was going to swell up from the bee sting – I haven’t been stung by anything for a long time. Since I am writing this and am not in a hospital bed or significantly deformed, I guess I don’t get an allergic reaction to honey bee stings – hurray!
After I had calmed down and put the hat firmly back on my head (and changed direction so I wasn’t looking into the sun), we looked through the rest of the hive, but couldn’t find the queen. We did find eggs and quite a lot of brood – so I think all is well. I was afraid they were going to be ready to swarm with all the hot weather and the fact we haven’t got the second deep body on yet.
What a wet week! I have been trying to protect my seedlings and the plants in the cold frame by covering them during the downpours, and quickly uncovering them when the it stops in a vain attempt to get them to dry out a bit. Can’t do anything about plants in the ground though – actually, if nothing rots, the rain seems to have brought on the potatoes, onions and beans pretty well (same applies to the weeds of course!).
I did manage to get out into the garden yesterday morning – I fulfilled my personal mission of converting some of my sons’ old trampoline into a low tunnel to protect the sweet potatoes from unwanted invaders. It looks a little strange, but that’s OK – it all adds to the uniqueness of Winifreds Little Acre! I also edged around the raspberry fence that is hopefully going to protect the other crops outside the deer fence – I had a problem with escaping raspberries into my blueberries this year, so I decided to pre-empt the problem in this new raspberry patch.
The bees haven’t had too much chance to fly due to the rain, but hopefully they are still busy sorting out their new home. I’m a little worried about the baby peaches with their soft fuzzy skin – all this rain might take a toll. I’m planning to give them another holistic spray this weekend to help them out.
I have my curcubits – summer squash, cucumber (2nd sowing – first one failed) and melons in the basement germinating as I write hopefully. They should be ready to go out in a couple of weeks – they normally grow pretty fast. I’m looking into how to protect them from the cucumber beetle – they were all badly affected last year by bacterial wilt – so far my plan is to plant a ring of radish before I transplant them and then to cover them as soon as I put them out.
Looking forward to a great transplanting weekend – my babies are all ready to go out into the real world!
We collected our new bee colony (package) on Mother’s Day – from the Lehigh Valley Beekeepers Association – who drive to Georgia and back to collect the packages. We hived them on a perfect day – 70F, sunny and calm. We mistakenly took the cork out of the wrong end of the queen’s cage (we replaced back before leaving them) and so I was worried the queen would escape too quickly and then be killed by the colony. As usual, my fears were unfounded – when we checked on their progress yesterday – all was well, the Snow Queen (she is marked with a white blob) was doing fine, as were her 10,000 cohorts! They seemed to be enjoying the honey left by the previous colony and were as busy as bees! We didn’t see any sign of eggs yet, but will look again in a couple of weeks.
The big news of today however, was that we decided to do something about the hive full of dead bees that we have been mourning for the last couple of months. We started beekeeping last Spring (I’m not sure now that we are “keeping” as much as vacationing the bees – with a final deadly trip), and everything was looking good (with exception that the colony had Varroa mites – but apparently that is pretty normal) and they had plenty of honey to get through the winter. Unfortunately though, it seems they starved to death anyhow, because of the prolonged cold weather. They need a break in the temperatures to be able to move upward to get to the stored honey – ours were still in a huddle at the bottom of the hive still. Sad but true.
Anyhow the light at the end of our tunnel (not theirs) is that we get to harvest the honey that was supposed to feed them through the winter! So far, just from one deep frame we got 3lbs and there is a lot more where that came from! We just need to do a lot of sticky work to extract it and then work out how to store the honey frames between now and when the new package arrives in April (bees are the best cleaners for this kind of situation – live ones are more effective though). (More research needed – or perhaps the purchase of a chest freezer may need to happen sooner rather than later!)