Archive for April, 2012

Growing tomatoes on the Oregon Coast calls for special measures. This clear 6 mil UV resistant film ‘tent’ shields the soil from the drenching rainfalls of April and May. To get ripe tomatoes by early August we must often plant in inclement weather.

Beating the late blight is the name of the game in a cool climate. We don’t use fungicides so since the mid to late 90’s we follow some strict rules…NO overhead watering, drip watering only. Trim lower branches a so no leaves touch the ground. Do not follow tomatoes with potatoes or vice-versa for at least one year (two years are better).

After gardening in the same location for over 35 years, we always add amenities to enhance the soil…cottonseed meal, kelp meal, bone meal, blood meal, dolomite, gypsum. This is in addition to trenching in deciduous leaves, crab shell, and coffee grounds in the fall.

The water grid is 1/2″ pvc with 1/8″ holes drilled in the proper spacing for tomatoes. It can be gravity fed from the tank that is powered by solar, delivering the water directly to the roots.

The tires are centered over the holes to add extra warmth into the evening.

Pinch off lower leaves, add a bit of fish meal, place in ground with lots of compost and plant deep.

Next add the hoops…these are 3/4″ pvc that fit loosely into 1 1/4″ pvc sockets. These hoops are strong and last for years (Schedule 40) Strengthen them with rope and 1×2’s.

Use a taut-line hitch to take up slack when rope stretches.

This is 6 mil, UV resistant film. 2x2x8’s are butted up to each other and 1×2’s are nailed to hold them together. Then the film is nailed to them using more 1×2’s. That forms the weight to hold the film over the hoops. If you “under roll” the film and tie it to the hoop with a slip knot it will stay up all day. At night or during a rain, we always close the tents to keep water off the leaves. Tomatoes need air circulation, so it’s important to open the tents whenever possible.Tent is closed protecting the plants from the cool night air. Since we like to eat tomatoes in the winter, we plant about 60 plants. This is the first tomato bed this season and holds 15 plants. The cages will be added later when after we’ve treated them with bleach water.  Check out the cages here…added a month later.

Preserving the tomatoes.

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Randy seems to know all the bee trees in the county.  I asked him if he thought hanging a bait hive up a certain logging road would be permissible with the owners.  He said “There’s no bees up there.  What you ought to do, is hang it at (a not to be disclosed) wayside.  There’s a bee tree there.”  Deep in the middle of a shaded grove of Myrtlewood trees was a bee tree.  It was spotted by a picnicker who was interested in what I was doing.  About 20-25 feet (6-8 meters) up was a bunch of bee activity. I chose a tree about 50 feet (15 meters) away facing the river to hang the bait hive after baiting it with old comb and LGO. The family of picnickers and their kids were excited to  learn the plight of the bees and what backyard beekeepers are doing to help out.

It’s not as pretty as Bernhard Zaunreiter‘s, but hopefully it’ll do the job.

Updated to “Kicked out of State Park.”

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Bee Beard is patiently waiting for a swarm of bees. He is finally located on site, facing east with the bamboo blocking the southwesterlies that rage in the winter.

After reading a post by Phil Chandler about the importance of moisture control and hive scent, I decided to hollow out the base. It was much easier this time as the saw pushed all the way through.

Phil was also discussing the importance of hive ecosystem…“that it might be beneficial to have wood shavings and possibly dry leaves in the hope of stimulating an ecosystem similar to the natural environment where perhaps earwigs and woodlice etc. would live below the bees and maybe eat any falling varroa.” Should I add shavings or sawdust? I’ll just rake up these shavings and jam them in the center. I can always add sawdust later.

A view from the top. The quilt box fits nicely here on top of the short top bars. Sawdust will fill the quilt box over the burlap. Then the ‘hat’ pivots back to center.

Bee Beard gets bees!

Bee Beard worked hard all winter and served up 6 swarms.  I missed the prime swarm but caught three more.  One went into my new Warre hive.

Tree hive.

My new log hive. 

How Bee-atrice was carved.

Preparing Bee-atrice for a hive

Getting a log hollowed out

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This log was cut from deep in the forest on the Oregon Coast. It was being cut into lengths when the saw bit into the bee hive and bees came flying out. Rather than lose the hive, one of the guys called Randy, a known beekeeper, who patched up the log and brought it to his bee yard. These very feral bees are now adjusted to their new surroundings and are out flying.

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All of a sudden it’s time to get serious about this.  I built most of the bait hives in February.  April and May are the best months on the Oregon Coast.  I don’t want to start too late because I’ll be advised to feed the bees and I DON’T want to do that.

This one is not as high as I would like, but it’s a start.  I’m using old brood comb from last year, some melted pine sap, and Lemon Grass Oil.  I’ll check it in a week and daub some more LGO on the outside of the hive.

I used a ladder with this one and got a little higher.  This one has top bars that fit a Warre Hive.  It’s located within walking distance of my house so I can check on it more often.  It’s located near a creek in a stand of firs and cedars.

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It’s always fun for us to uncover the very soggy cardboard and see all the earth worms.  In years past we would rototill, but now because we trench in leaves, crab shell, coffee grounds and sometimes  kitchen garbage in the fall,  our beds are teeming with life.  We don’t want to chop up the worms with a tiller so we do a little spading to loosen the soil and push in the transplants.  Many times the ground is too wet for a tiller, but not for a shovel or fork. l

Our Red Pontiacs from last year were getting soft so we decided to use them as seed potatoes. With the raised beds we can plant earlier and cover up the beds if the weather report warns for freezing.  We can also net to keep out the deer or in this case, the cats.  Check out the progress on these beds.

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This is our remedy for slug control.
Plastic glove and cup, headlight, q-tips to ‘roll up’ those small ones. Go out at night, and be thankful your back and vision still works.
This is the big one that DIDN’T get away.

20120402-202039.jpgNow where should I dump this?

See the new Slug Rehab program

Here’s some interesting facts about banana slugs…The Banana Slug is Living Proof that a Slimy Little Gastropod Mollusk Can be Loaded with Charisma

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Winter Warmth


Cold and wet outside. My sweetheart is fixing curry carrot soup and walnut burgers on the wood stove. I’m luxuriating in the warmth while reading my bee articles sent to me from Terry in Berkeley. What a great life.

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