Tuesday, August 25, 2009

An in between time

This is, most certainly, an in between time in the garden. It is hot, and buggy, and my energy is waning. There is plenty to do, but nothing that will suffer any more without immediate attention. With the exception of the new green bean flowers you see here, there are no vegetables growing. All the perennial flowers need desperately to be cut back and weeded, but the mosquitoes make that just too unpleasant. Planting of broccoli and kale and other young greens in the garden is a whole week away . . . plenty of time to get that bed prepared.

The fig remains prolific, and beautiful, but I am tired of cutting and drying them, and we can eat only so many a day. My apple bags are working to keep away the birds, and you can see the nice, undamaged apple that I ate today (still a little green, but I could not resist). The orangequats and tangerines are ripening slowly; they look like dark green jewels on the trees. Even the shitake logs have put out a few, tiny, misshapen mushrooms.

So maybe I am the only lazy thing in the garden, and need to find a way to focus on what is growing and maturing in order to regain the energy needed to clean up what is spent. But not right now; I just can't stand the sound of that mosquito in my ear.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Baking bees; drying figs

Right before this week's rain, it was HOT. Here you see all the bees from Loretta's hive hanging out on the front of the hive, as it was just too hot inside for them. In extra hot weather, the bees will bring in water, place it strategically in the hive, and then place bees to fan at the doors and throughout the hive to create bee air conditioning. If you look closely at the door on these days, you can see the bees fanning.

The fig tree is really producing this week. Unexpectedly, most of this main crop is also huge: figs bigger than many plums! I had to cut them into four pieces each to dry them. Aren't they beautiful?

We did get three more gallons of honey last week, and there are two honey supers left on the hives. I need to get them off soon, so the bees can settle down and get their winter stores all set. Look at this beautiful girl ready to land on the flowers from my mint!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Worn out plants and fresh new starts

There will be a heat index of 101 degrees F today, and all that is coming out of the garden are figs, a few tomatoes, and one last squash. Any vegetable plants remaining from the first summer planting, such as these sungold tomatoes, are looking sad, even though they may still be producing a fruit here and there. By comparison, look at the bed of string beans and zucchini squash planted a few weeks back. Remember when this bed was filled with kale left over from the spring? I ripped them out and put in some leftover seed, and this is the result. They are beautiful; a great example of why it sometimes is just time to pull up the old, tired vegetable plants and begin a new cycle. Now, if I had planned better, there would also be a bed ready to harvest right now, in between the early, early summer plants and this late summer planting. Those tomatoes are next to go, as I need to amend the soil in that bed a bit, and it soon will be time to plant the fall garden.

Look at the strawberry bed I planted late last winter! The plants have expanded to more than fill every inch of space, and you can see the new, reddish runners trying to sneak baby plants out into the lawn. I did not expect this much growth, so will need to really open up the bed in a few months by removing about half the plants, if not more. I will shoot for removing the mother plants, and leaving they new young plants for next year's production. The ones I remove probably will go into a front yard border, or to friends in need of berry plants. There should be a great harvest next spring from these healthy, perennial plants.

I took one photo today through the egg door of the chicken coop. It was so funny to see Pauline (black), Hilda (dark red), and Lousie (light red) come hopping up to see what I was doing. I am getting anywhere from 1 to 3 eggs a day now from the 4 hens. Not amazing production, but more than we can eat so I am fine with it. I don't think that Hilda has been laying for awhile now. She had lost some feathers and then went so long without replacing them. Then she laid one egg without a shell (it happens sometimes). Since then, nothing. She seems strong and healthy now, and all her feathers are returning, so we will see. They love this time of year, with all the watermelon rinds they can eat. We are lucky that their coop is in a shady area, and in a place that tends to get a breeze.