Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swarm and capture!

Loretta's hive swarmed!  Here you see the bees clustering on the outside of the original hive, waiting for the queen to fly so they can leave with her.  The other two photos are of the swarm marching up a pillowcase carpet, into the new hive, where the queen has been shaken.  That is one of the most fascinating things you have ever seen.  They are settled and happy, at least for now.

Monday, April 20, 2009

New germination, new colors, big harvests

With the weather finally warming a bit, I have transplanted tomatoes into the garden and have planted squash, cucumbers, beet, carrots, and bean seeds (along with some basil and cayenne pepper seed to see if I can get some plants from direct seeding this year).  Here you see a seedling squash, which is just emerging in one of my ornamental beds.  That is the only place I had room for vining crops this summer.  

The beautiful purple flower stalks are the first of the baptisia this year, and the red salvia is flowering for the first time in my garden.  Both my small and my large varieties of Indian Hawthorne are in full flower as of Saturday (white on the small and pink on the large), and they look and smell amazing.  I am sorry there isn't enough room for photos of them as well; maybe later this week.

I had to include a photo of the vegetable bed that holds all of the greens, the sugar snap peas, the cauliflower, bok choy, mustard, and now new tiny seedling beets and carrots.  I gave all my vegetables and my strawberries a dose of fertilizer last week, and the effect really shows.  If your plants seem to be just sitting still in the garden and not growing, consider whether some Nitrogen is in order.

Finally look at this beautiful Russian kale.  These plants were from last fall, and I have been harvesting on and off all winter.  Despite their large size, the leaves are very tender, and I chopped the stems along with the greens for a wonderful pan of sauteed greens that made a great base for some salmon and a drizzle of basalmic vinegar.

The bees are working all the flowers, but so far they are not putting away any honey.  I hope this year to get a great honey crop, rather than just producing lots of swarms.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter/Spring

Happy Easter/Spring.  What a beautiful, if cool, day.  Enjoy these few photos of new blooms and vegetables in their glory.  Coral honeysuckle peeks from under fennel, spirea looks whiter than any white has ever looked, and peas, tuscan kale, cauliflower, mustard greens, young lettuces, purple bok choy, and leeks grow together into a wonderful pattern of colors, shapes and textures.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Big changes this week

The rain and warm weather this week led to some big changes in the garden. Everything, whether greens that had overwintered from fall plantings or tomatoes just placed in the ground, seemed to double in size overnight. The sugar snap peas have blossoms and the brand new strawberry plants have berries. In the ornamental beds, the native Fothergill (which likes wet feet and is in my rain garden bed) is covered in fuzzy, white flowers. I harvested huge bouquets of kale and mustard, and even shared some with the hens.

The biggest change was in Loretta's bee hive. Remember that two weeks ago I saw that the top brood box was full of last year's honey, and I planned to remove some to open up the hive for more brood and to encourage the bees to move into the honey supers? Well, yesterday I opened the hive . . . and found that the top box was now full of capped brood! All that honey had been either eaten or moved, and hundreds of new baby bees had taken its place. The hive was packed with bees, three medium brood boxes full of brood, and I did see one queen cell. Despite all this, they had not moved up into the honey super! So, it looks like this hive is ready to begin again with last year's swarm, swarm, swarm mentality. Let's wait and see; maybe next week I will find a full honey super up above all those new baby bees.

Finally, yes, I know it is early to have tomatoes in the garden. That is why I have a full, matching set of individual hot caps, made from milk cartons, to place over those plants at night this week when the temperatures plunge.