Archive for September, 2012

In years’ past, we grew dozens of sunflowers of all types.  This year…very few.  Of the few that we planted, only four decided to grow.  Of the four, only one was big enough to draw any visitors.  This is the one.

My best sunflower this year

This might be the bug/beetle which appears in the video taken two days previous. It was on the flower part but jumped to the leaf while I was getting the camera switched on and focused.

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Pat proudly displays his trophy on his return from a successful vegetarian hunting trip. “This goes on the wall.”

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Growing poppies is a long term affair.  We planted these under lights in the house.  After two to three weeks in a plastic bag to keep it moist, the very fine seeds have sprouted.

Poppies ready to be transplanted into bigger pots.  The plants in the foreground are St. John’s Wort (Hypericum).

The poppy seed was planted in February.  It is just now blooming in September.  I think we’ll start earlier if we want poppies in spring or summer for the bees next year.

Here’s the beautiful result of our labor of love…

The poppy has finally opened up. I wonder when the bees will find it.

A couple of days after this first one opened up, we had a bee doing something strange (to me).  It faced away from the center of the flower, beating her wings rapidly, vibrating the pollen off the stamen and onto her body.  After getting a layer of purple pollen, she landed on the outside of the flower and groomed herself with her middle legs, pulling the pollen off her back and into her pollen baskets.  It was incredible.  I had my little pocket camera with me and got some video of it.

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An added bonus to growing flowers for the bees is attracting different pollinators.  Dozens of butterflies fluttered onto our flowers.    The Wallflower, Erysimum has been blooming all summer and today it was visited by an American Lady.  Will Cook was kind enough to answer my late night email inquiry and identified it.

An American Lady shows off her two eye spots on the underside of her wings.

An American Lady sipping nectar

This short video shows the butterfly probing the flower with her proboscis.  Sometimes it takes a few tries before the nectar is located.

For more information about butterflies, check out this web site.

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This has nothing to do with bees or gardening, but I like her style of writing. i’ve often had some of the same thoughts about sustainable living. She expressed them very well.


Journal Entry July 30, 2012

I have dressed early–6 a.m., in sweatpants and hoodie–to stave off the morning chill. Yesterday was rainy, all day drizzle interspersed with sudden heavy downpours. When I wake this morning and see skies clearing, I know I have to get down to the lake to watch the white tendrils of mist rise from the glossy, rippled surface of the water. I bring a blue chair and a mug of coffee, a camera, and my journal.

The tiny community beach–one of over a dozen–is a short walk from my doorstep. For the first eight years we lived here, the beach was nothing more than a weedy opening in the scrub brush lining the lake. A pine needle- and leaf-covered path slopes down to the water’s edge from the gravel road.

We leave our canoe here, red and tipped upside down, most of the summer and fall…

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Quite a mouthful. This photo was taken the evening before.

The bees started being very active fairly early in the morning.  I ran to get the video camera to document what was going on.  They grouped up on the outside of the hive entrance.  The group slowly moved up the right side of the hive and then under the nose.  My wife thinks this was a bunch of drones hatching, because they look bigger.  I couldn’t get couldn’t get a good fix on the eye pattern.  The next day was normal activity.  Any ideas?  We welcome your comments.

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Our nights get down to a chilly 47 degrees F (8 deg. C.) so without extra care it would be impossible to grow things like peppers and eggplants.

Water grid in place, hook up hose and place transplants where the water drips out.

Add hoops, deer netting and the plastic film weighted with 1×2’s nailed to  2×2’s.

This is what it looks like now (after 3 1/2 months) with some calendulas that my wife won’t let me take out and a volunteer Swiss Chard.

The green peppers are small because the nights are so cool, but at least we get some.

Japanese eggplant (the only one that will ripen here because it’s smaller) is finally ready to be picked.

Tomatoes are coming on strong…ready for sandwiches or to be roasted.

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, string beans, carrots, beets, basil, (and other herbs like oregano and thyme), onions and garlic slathered with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.  Roast it at 425 deg. F for about 25 minutes or until the tomatoes start to brown.

After this cools, we throw it in the blender, then it goes into the quart size freezer bags so it will stack up well.  It can be used over rice or potatoes, or as a spaghetti or pizza sauce.

Check out planting tomatoes in a cool rainy climate.

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