Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Topiaries and bonsai

OK, so these are NOT from my garden, but I thought you might like to see a few photos from the flower and plant show at Epcot. The bonsai were all at least 50 years old and were on special pedestals placed out in the lake near the Japanese pavilion. The topiary were amazing, as was the flower canvas around one of the lakes. Enjoy!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Teeming with bees, strawberry flowers

I opened both Loretta's hive and Dolly's hive late yesterday afternoon.  As expected, Dolly's was light, with the bottom box completely empty, and only half of the top box with bees and brood and a little honey.  Having to move fast, I just reversed the boxes for now, putting the empty on top.  Loretta was another story all together.  The hive was teeming with bees, and the top (3rd box) of the brood chamber was chock full of last year's honey!  The didn't even need it this winter.  (I need to rethink the three box strategy.)  The bottom and middle brood boxes were teeming with bees and brood, much of it mature and capped.  I could do nothing there for now, so put a queen excluder on top, added a honey super, and closed them up.  

Based on my findings, my plan for next weekend is to try and remove two frames of capped brood and bees from Loretta and give them to Dolly. At the same time, I will remove 3 frames of honey from Loretta, and give them to Dolly. This will  help strengthen Dolly's hive, while opening up Loretta's a bit to maybe help prevent a swarm, and giving an open path through the old honey to the new honey supers.  (I will put drawn comb into the empty spots left in Loretta's hive.)  It was great to finally at least get into the hives and see the bees.  Despite how late in the day it was, they were very calm, and paid pretty much no attention to me as I worked.  I could not get any bee photos, as I was alone and could not both work the bees and a camera.

A quick note about the vegetable gardens:  The new strawberry plants have a few flowers already!  I know I should pinch them off so more energy can go to the new plants right now, but I don't think I can.  Maybe next week.  I also wanted to share the fiddleheads of my holly fern, and the wonderful veins of this purple and green pak choy.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What does Spring look like?

The wind is blowing at 30 knots, the temperature is in the 40s, it's cloudy . . . so how do we know it's really spring? Look closely. Rosemary blooms in the most wonderful purple/blue. Broad, flat iris blades stand out in the ornamental bed, with already opened jonquil blossoms close by.

Best of all? Young sugar snap pea plants reach for support (of course this is my garden, so that support is a bit late in coming, and the poor plants are laying almost flat in the wind of the last few days). Despite a few really nice, warm days, the garden is still moving quite slowly. Cauliflower plants that were put in two weeks ago have not changed. Overwintered lettuce remains small. A few spring greens, planted from seeds, have popped up, and the peas are growing, bit by bit. I keep telling myself to be patient, and thank heavens for the kale and mustard harvests that keep me going!

The bees have been very, very active on any day when the temperatures get near 50 and the wind gives them a break. I have not been able to reverse the boxes (move the now empty lower brood chambers back up on top of the new brood), as the weather has not cooperated on any day that I am home. If I wait much longer, however, I will certainly see the swarming begin, and will lose honey production as a result. No luck this weekend, however, as it will be cloudy and rainy every day: weather not suited to working bee hives.

Monday, March 2, 2009

I'm gonna wash that man right out of my . . . feathers

Yes, Expresso is gone. Rejoice, however, as he is not dumpling meat, but has moved to an even bigger and fancier coop to be master of a larger number of even younger hens. He is not sad. Neither are the girls. Here they are, looking fine and happy and seemingly not missing him at all. Now maybe poor Hilda and even Lou will get their head feathers back. He liked redheads.

The garden is doing absolutely nothing, as it has just been a cold, cold winter and early spring. The vegetables are just sitting there. Here it is March, and we have temperatures in the teens forecast for tonight and tomorrow night. Time to cover the young strawberries again! I will leave the kales and mustards exposed, as they should be able to tolerate even these temps. I hope the young peas will hold up as well. I did fill in the open areas in the pea rows (where I got poor germination) with more pea seeds yesterday, to take advantage of the wet soil. Once these couple days of bitter cold have passed, I hope the new seeds will respond to some spring weather.