Archive for March, 2012

This bed has crab shell and coffee grounds. Both are waste products that I picked up last summer using my bicycle and trailer. Also buried within are autumn leaves.
Last weekend we covered the bed with a plastic tent over pvc hoops to dry out the soil.
Today a 3 hour break in the storm served as our chance to get this first bed planted.
The cabbage, collards, and lettuce were started from seed in the house under lights in late February. The soil was full of earthworms and just right to add amenities, rake smooth, hook up the water grid, and pop in the transplants. (no rototilling because we’re trying to avoid using fossil fuel in the garden)

A floating row cover will be placed over the cabbages to protect them from the cabbage moth and cabbage fly, then netting to keep out the deer, followed by the plastic film tent to protect them from the high winds and driving rain from the next set of storms. March came in like a lamb and is going out like a lion.


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We always start our tomatoes, peppers, eggplants under fluorescent lights in the house. This year we added poppies to the mix.

These tomatoes must be ‘hardened off’ by exposing them in increasing amounts to the sun and wind everyday…but no rain and no overhead watering.


This poppy seed (St. John’s Wort) is the only one to germinate so far. It looks good and I’m looking forward to the bees crawling all over the blossoms in three or four months.

Four squares on left are Island Bush Poppy, (Dendromecon)   No they’re NOT Island Bush Poppies, they are St. John’s Wort, (Hypericum) pollinated by our bees last year and planted from that very fine seed.
4 squares on right is a store-bought seed mixture. It sure takes a long time to grow. I should have started in January.

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Baiting the hives


Let’s see…lemongrass oil on a piece of paper towel, inside a ziplock plastic bag and old comb melted on a couple of top bars. All that’s left to do is to put on the top.

That one is done. Let’s check out the bait hive in the tree.

This one came through last week’s storm system with 70 mph gusts and a freak rare snowstorm of 4″. It passed the wind test. So we’ll give it some old comb and lemongrass oil as well. Is it 12 ft. off the ground. Hmmmm, no, but I’m somewhat allergic to ladders so hopefully six feet will be enough.

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It’s hard to believe this little tray of peat pots comprises most of our tomato plants. I had to throw in some blanket flower seeds as well as poppy seeds. The bees love poppies as can be seen in this fuzzy photo of six bees on a St. John’s Wort which is covered with bees mid June to late July.


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Smoothing the grooves


My mentor told me that bees don’t like sharp edges. I looked at all the chainsaw grooves on the inside of the log and decided something must be done. On the advice of the woodcarver I ordered a Sa-burr tool from Treeline.
Wow, that removes a bunch of wood in a hurry and in the process smooths out those grooves. Now to get that sawdust off me.

Nice and smooth

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Shakedown trial


Hung first bait hive today. It’s a dry run to wait for the old brood comb to come out of the freezer after 48 hours. I don’t want to take a chance with wax moths.
The plan will be to bait the hive with lemongrass essential oil and old brood comb from last year. If I get desperate I’ll add some queen pheromones.
While I’m awaiting swarm season I’ve hung the box in a tree to see how it weathers the March storms. The forecast for next week calls for a storm system of about 8 days in length. That ought to give the box a good test ‘ride.’

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“Lots of bees flying from first log hive,” says Hal, “and I baited the 3rd one with pheromones.”
Hal’s first log hive chosen by a swarm in early June 2011. Bookended by my daughter and son-in-law.

Hal next to #3 log hive…”baited and awaiting occupants.”

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