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Showing posts from June, 2012

Next time, chemicals

From the other side of ninety pounds of honey, I can laugh. [WARNING: if you're severely spider-phobic, you may want to skip the latter part of this post.}

The day I pulled the supers off of the hives, so many days ago, I had done many things to make the bees find elsewhere more congenial.
Those things seemed to work well.


So I yanked boxes off, added empty ones so the bees wouldn't feel crowded, and made shorter hives. Let me tell you, there are few things as fun as lifting 40-60 pound boxes awkwardly off of a high hive while standing on a makeshift stepstool. Fun times.


This was the heavy deep box. I expected it to yield a LOT of honey.


Just as a final measure, I did more almond extract and banging of the boxes, trying to send all of the bees back to their hive.


Once all boxes were in and stacked, though, it quickly became apparent that my efforts had been. . . partial. This looks like only a few bees, doesn't it? Imagine about 1,000 times more, and that is what my kitchen lo…

The ins and outs of bees

It's time. The honey supers must get harvested so that the bees have room to put their harvest. Make sense? Well, it would if you knew that wax is approximately ten times more "expensive" for bees to make than honey, and that they prefer to draw out storage cells in wax during the spring build-up. While they will in the summer, most of their happy energy is in foraging right now.

So, in a delicious bit of beekeeping irony, it's necessary to steal the honey so they can store the honey.

Plus, it's fun to see the early/late differences in honey's color, aroma, and flavor.

In preparation for this day, I went into the hives last week and placed a board with a bee escape, a one-way valve, under the full honey boxes, after placing some boxes without fully-drawn comb on the frames so they would still have some room above the brood nests. In one case, this made a terrific bee tower that I had to jury-rig a climbing platform next to it. Remember, the full boxes are at le…

What ails the beans?

Last week, I noticed some bean leaves appeared to have been sprayed with metallic paint. At least, that's the first thing that popped into my head. They looked a little like these bronzed leaves:


And here are some unhappy looking pole bean leaves.


After doing some research, I fear that it's mosaic virus, because they're primarily saved seeds. But maybe it's a nutritional deficiency? Who knows? I'm such a lackadaisical gardener that it could be almost anything.

But all is not grim, disease-and-fungus-related news here at this Sicilian Sister's house. Look! Baby baby cucumbers. These are the kind that Trader Joe's sells in little boxes for lots of money. They make excellent snacks, being fully ripe at about five inches.


And this year's experiment: black popcorn. I've seen many tassels, but not much flying pollen, so I'm just at the finger-crossing state.


And finally, what do you think the plural noun should be for summer squash? An enthusiasm? An overw…

Low-down, dirty rotten. . .

I had put off a chore until today -- it wasn't the garden's fault that it was really hot when I finally got to it.

The blight or virus or wilt or whatever had gotten worse in the tomatoes, and I was going to do a thorough removal of all affected foilage in hopes of slowing down its advance.


The plants are bushy and compact -- it was challenging getting under there to pull off the branches, but there were some compensations. Look! Baby tomatoes. If I get this stuff under control, maybe there will be some for sauce.


It took me two shifts, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, to work both sides of the long bed. What was once a dense tomato hedge is now a slightly less-dense tomato hedge. I ended up with a full trash bag of diseased plant tissue. That got put in the landfill bin, not the municipal compost, because I don't want to spread it around any more.


While I was looking down anyhow, I spotted a pretty vigorous invasion of Bermuda grass along the fence. That bed wi…

Up up and away

If I wait a few more weeks, maybe there would be a goose and some golden eggs at the top of these? The Rattlesnake pole beans are shorter, but these saved Italian Fagioli Stregoni are heading for the sky.


The bush beans are already bearing. I may, despite my commitment to dry beans, have to eat some green.


Also, in high-altitude gardening, the asparagus is over my head. (I'm not at all pregnant; I was trying to cover my nice skirt up with an apron so I wouldn't get dirt on it.)


There are exciting things happening close to the ground, too. It's a good time in the garden.

Animals, beans and apricots

Fred is doing very well. He has developed a pretty avid liking for opiate painkillers. . . and today is his last round of heavy drugs. Wonder how coming off them will be. Maybe we'll have to find a kitty support group?

Sarafina says his cone and rear end remind her of Monsters, Inc.


He might be less amused. Only seven or eight more days, Fred!



The beans I saved are flowering with two different colors. I don't yet know if this is natural variation or if there was some outcrossing. I didn't do any kind of seed isolation last year. Guess like child rearing, the proof will be long-term.


The chickens who used to run screaming from us now crowd the wire demanding something, anything, every time we're out there.


But despite the suggestive rock, no eggs yet.


When the apricots get near ripe and it's a little breezy, they end up all over the ground. Although they bruise when this happens, they're incredibly sweet, sweeter than picked. I'll put up with it.

Only bad news

The top of one San Marzano tomato was looking wilted, although there was no lack of water.



And there it was.


Is it some other early blight? Is it the dreaded late blight, brought to my attention by Pam Pierce?



Whatever it is, some of my tomatoes have it and perhaps severely pruning any stem showing its effects will help and I'll get a crop, and perhaps not. We often get something bothering tomatoes here, and only sometimes does it wipe out entire crops.

In other really unpleasant news, our deeply beloved cat Fred was probably attacked by a human on Saturday night, based on his tail injuries. We find out tomorrow if he gets to keep any of his tail, and whether or not surgery to remove it will give him relief from what seems to be intolerable pain. Until then, we have Schedule II narcotics and a cat carrier.

Tomato diseases seem like a very small problem, indeed.

The sweet side

Although kale reigns supreme in my heart in vegetable terms, summer does herald that wonderful time of year when fruit takes over.

A simple handful of strawberries


To join the rasperries already ripe and the apricots coloring up on the tree. Let the wild celebration begin.