Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

…and the bees love it too.

4106-mostly-turnips-as-cover-crop-10-6-16

Want to grow spinach? We have been wildly unsuccessful in growing it, but guess what…steamed turnip greens taste just like spinach. It turns out they are very easy to grow and are good for you too. This was supposed to be a mixture of several cover crop seeds, Fava beans, Winter Rye, and Hairy Vetch included. It looks like the turnips took over. Uh, I might have broadcast them a little thick. My “solar-roller water pump panel” is positioned for the afternoon sun. Gotta keep the flow going. 🙂

honeybee-on-turnip-blossom-jan-16-2014

Turnip flowers in January provide nourishment for bees in the critical winter months.

4108-turnips-planted-a-month-ago-10-6-16

October 8…This bed was planted August 1. Turnips grow fast. Plant them thick, then you can harvest the thinnings by steaming the greens.  Leave a few to go to flowers in winter.

4110-short-bed-of-turnips-10-6-16

We’ve been getting three crops a year in our raised beds. This was lettuce last winter, then kale, now turnips. In between we bury crab shell when we can get it. This being October, that resource will soon be gone.

4120-one-of-5-turnips-used-for-turnip-soup-10-10-16

Oct. 10…My sweetheart made a delicious turnip soup for dinner this evening. These turnips were planted in early August. They grow fast!!!

4116-planted-more-turnips-yesterday-10-8-16

Oct. 8…just in case we haven’t planted enough turnips, here is another bed started…complete with drip water grid.

4132a-turnips-growing-well-rain-cloth-10-15-16-smlr

Oct. 15…Turnips are up already. The shade cloth is to protect the little darlings from the hurricane force winds and 12-18 inches (300-450mm) of rain that was forecast…didn’t happen, at least, not yet.

Turnip soup recipe

Chop an onion, saute in olive oil, add 4 to 5 cups of peeled chopped turnips, two garlic cloves (peeled and cut in half), add two teaspoons of smoked paprika, and teaspoon of thyme  leaves.  Cook until lightly brown, add three cups of vegetable or chicken broth, salt to taste.  Bring to boil and simmer until veggies are cooked.  Blend in blender, return to pan, add a cup of milk, or milk alternative.

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2830B Mason bee on Meadowfoam, 4-20-16 copy

Late April, for the first time ever, I start seeing Mason bees in the Meadowfoam.

3260 Mason bees + Guidance Mandala, 5-29-16

My sister is a watercolor artist. She gave me her Guidance Mandala because she knows I like bees. I realize Mason bees don’t fly too far from home, but bees need all the help they can get, so I hung it here near the Mason bee nesting blocks.

3257 Guidance Mandala, 5-29-16

A closer look at the Guidance Mandala. When Vikki paints a mandala she never knows where it will take her. During one of our weekly phone conversations she was inspired to add a circle of bees.

2503 Mason bees set up, 3-6-16, detailed

I set up the nesting blocks on March 6. Then I waited a good three weeks to see any activity. The cocoons had been in the refrigerator since October. You don’t want them emerging too soon because there won’t be enough to eat (or so I have read), but I always hold my breath hoping after five months of ‘chilling,’ they will emerge.

2587 Mason bee, long antenna-male 3-29-16 copy

Finally on March 28, I see a bee. This must be a male. Males have long antenna. They usually emerge first because they are laid last in the tubes (being expendable.) Predators will be able to reach them easily. 😦

2582 Mason bees emerging, 3-28-16 copy

I see them slowly ‘waking up.’ This could be a female. The antennae look shorter.

26 Mason bee tubes filled so far copy

May 19…I start to fill pretty smug. 26 tubes filled already…until I come across this post of Rusty Burlew (of Honeybeesuite) in Washington state.

mason-bee-housing

Rusty says one of these cans will fill up in about three days. I count the number of straws to realize there are close to 100 straws in each can. Either there are more Mason bees in her area or they like the straws in cans better. I’m gonna try this method next year. Photo reprinted with permission from Rusty Burlew.

3147A German wasp on nesting block copy

When I first saw this wasp go into a Mason bee nesting tube I was afraid it would start digging into the tubes. I asked Steve, of “In a beekeeper’s Garden” about this. His reply, “Your wasp is or has all the markings of a vespula germanica (german wasp) which lives in all the northern hemisphere, they are a social wasp so live in nests. they are great pest controllers eating caterpillars , insects and the odd bee (usually weak ones ) they won’t break into your bee tubes :)” In the video, I watch the German Wasp patrolling my garden. I watch until the wasp decides I haven’t gotten video permission from her and chases me away. 🙂

3274A Mason wasp? copy

I think this is a resting Potter Wasp. I’m not sure what it’s up to. While I was grabbing my camera it poked into the tube and then emerged for it’s camera debut.

3290 Plum tree loaded, 6-4-16JPG

Want some plums? It looks like the Mason bees have been busy. My Methley trees are loaded with plums. Here are some recipes from Glory Garden.

3260A Mason bees, late May

It’s late May…I haven’t seen any activity for awhile which probably means the Mason bees are finished pollinating for this year. The cocoons are in a very delicate stage right now. I’ll be storing them in a cool inside room to protect them from yellow jackets. In September or October, I’ll remove the tubes from the blocks to store in the frig until next March. (Maybe I’ll have some new housing by then.)

More about Mason bees

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3146 Entrance into Sue's secret garden, 5-18-16

May 18…This is the entrance. Just today Sue was able to get the path covered with wood shavings. She says, “I feel like this is a secret garden. I can’t wait to show the grand kids.”

3142 Pat's block work, 5-18-16

The project involved some block work by you know who. (Note to self…never make suggestions to someone about block work unless you’re prepared to do it yourself.)

3129 Sue's (semi) Secret Garden, 5-18-16

Sue has added the planters with lobelia, snap dragons from seed, and Clary Sage Salvia (also from seeds this year), hoping to attract some bees. The squash barrels contain butternut, Red Hubbard, and Sugar Pie pumpkin starts. Between the planters and the squash is the Witch Hazel which we bought a couple of years ago, but it didn’t  do well in the clay pot we chose for it. We hope it comes back and blooms in winter. It’s next to an Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium).

3159 Sue in new garden room, 5-19-16.JPG++++

I asked Sue to sit down for a moment so I could take a photo.

3144 Hugelbed, cosmos, marigolds, phacelia, 5-18-16

The hugelkulture bed is technically in the new garden too. It’s getting planted with cosmos, marigolds, phacellia, California poppies, and more marigolds.

3145 Looking over hugel bed, 5-18-16

This is the other end of the hugelkulture bed, looking back towards the tall echium.

Some other garden scenes…

3196 Potatoes growing well, 5-22-16

May 22…Potatoes growing well.

3121 Turnip blossoms, mulched lettuce, 5-18-16

May 18…..My wife says it was a mistake to mulch the lettuce. It takes quite a bit of time to remove the straw when you want to eat it. In the background you can see the turnip flowers heavy with growth. This is our turnip seed source. The bees are still working it for now. For the record, these turnips, which were planted directly over crab shells last year, grew all winter.

3195 Pole beans planted, 5-22-16

Because of the new deer fence, I can plant pole beans for the first time in about 25 years. It’ll be fun watching the vine crawl up the bamboo poles.

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2903 Main gate, 4-29-16.JPG++++

This is the main entrance to the garden. It was the toughest area to get fenced, but I knew the deer wouldn’t necessarily follow the ‘honor system.’ With the 4×4 wooden posts and pretty gate, I’m happy with it.

“I HATE FENCES”…that said, I have to say that, so far, I love this deer fence we recently put up.  It didn’t start out too well though.  The conversation between my wife and I, that is.  She says, “Pat, I’m tired of the deer eating everything that isn’t netted.  And I’m tired of having to lift up the netting just to get a few leaves of kale or pick salad greens.  And last year the deer even ate the leaves off the potato vines.  They even ate some tomato stems.”  That was true.  We can’t net everything.  We use the ‘honor system’ for the tomatoes and potatoes,  deer are not supposed to eat them.  They trimmed the new corn plants too.  Yes, I was tired of all the deer damage too, but our efforts to find an acceptable fence line always ended in a huge disagreement.  I says, “All right…if you can find a fence line…one that doesn’t go through the middle of the bamboo, doesn’t cut off the bee hives, and doesn’t slice through the main entrance to the garden, you can have it, but it’s going to take me a good month to set it up and I’m going to be upset the whole time because it won’t be straight.  (I’m a printer, I like everything straight)  Ten minutes later she marches in triumphantly, “I’ve got it,” she says, with a big smile.  We walk it out, and yes, it’s there.  I have to insist on my gates, though.  I get seven of ’em.  Gotta have my gates. 🙂    We decide in an effort to keep peace in the family and to get the job done in time for spring planting, it’ll be hired out.  “Whew!!!”

4 2617 Fence construction, first day, 4-4-16

The main entrance. The fruit trees are on the inside of the fence. That means all the wire cages can be removed.

11 2709 West gate, smaller, 4-11-16

The ‘small’ west gate.

11 2716 West gate, new deer fence, 4-11-16JPG

The bigger west gate. I’ve got to grind down the stump on the inside of this gate. I’ll rent a stump grinder…that ought to be fun.

2738 Stump west side, before shot, 4-15-16

A closer look at the stump…two stumps. Piece of cake…

2745 Stump grinder, 4-15-16

…NOT!!! I spent a long part of the day, grinding the double stump down with this big stump grinder. I think I got through most of it, but had to hurry to get it back within the time limit so I wouldn’t be charged extra.

2773 Gate to Cody Garden, 4-11-16

This is one of my home-made gates. It opens up to the Cody garden. Cody was a special dog to us for 15+ years. He is buried there.

2923 Cody colored pencil drawing, 2001

My daughter drew this colored pencil sketch of Cody with his favorite cat, Chuck, in 2001.

2893 Southside gate, 4-27-16

We piled up these ‘tomato’ tires in front of the south gate to try to divert the deer around the fence. They are accustomed to walking through here from the side woods. We’re hoping they develop the habit of walking AROUND the fence. Then we can remove the tires.

2892 Compost gate, 4-27-16

Another perk to having a deer fence is being able to grow peas outside the greenhouse. This gate leads to the compost area.

So, there are my seven gates.  The following video shows how to build a deer fence.  You know I have to shoot video of everything that moves in the garden.  When the fence boys came, I couldn’t help myself…out came the cameras.  I just had to find out how the pros build a tight wire fence without bending the fence posts crooked.  I’m proud to say I found out and documented it for others to possibly use.

 

 

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August 27...I'm a sucker for any 'gardening trick'. Here I'm holding up a dried banana peel. It's supposed to give your transplant a shot of something (potassium?) when the roots reach down to it (assuming you put it in the hole before the plant goes in.)

August 27…I’m a sucker for any ‘gardening trick’. Here I’m holding up a dried banana peel. It’s supposed to give your transplant a shot of something (potassium?) when the roots reach down to it (assuming you put it in the hole before the plant goes in.)

August 27...The lettuce transplants on the left have the dried banana peel under them. On the right, no banana peel. PVC water grid in place, deer netting over the top, we will see what happens.

August 27…The lettuce transplants on the upper left have the dried banana peel under them. On the lower right, no banana peel.
PVC water grid in place, deer netting over the top, we will see what happens.  I forgot to mention the heaps of fresh crab shell that were buried here last week.

October 5...This is what the lettuce looks like 5 weeks later.  Can you tell where the banana peels are buried?  I can't.

October 5…This is what the lettuce looks like 5 weeks later. Can you tell where the banana peels are buried? I can’t.

October 5...Just to use the rest of the bed, I shook some dried kale branches in this area.  Ha-ha...there must have been some seeds that dropped out.

October 5…Just to use the rest of the bed, I shook some dried kale branches in this area. Ha-ha…there must have been some seeds that dropped out.

August 20...This is WHY we are planting in this bed already. The oh-so-cute deer chomped our beautiful broccoli plants when we forgot to re-net it.

August 20…This is WHY we are planting in this bed already. The oh-so-cute deer chomped our beautiful broccoli plants when we forgot to re-net it after burying crab shell in one end.

The new fawn follows Mom to the bird feeders every evening.

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Growing turnips for the bees and for us

June 22...I mowed half the mustard flowers down and spaded them into the soil. Those lengths of white pvc were supposed to hold the deer netting over the clover, but the clover experienced a freeze at a delicate stage and died out. All this mustard is volunteer courtesy of our compost bin. Clearly, it doesn't get hot enough to kill the seeds.

June 22…I mowed half the mustard flowers down and spaded them into the soil. Those lengths of white pvc were supposed to hold the deer netting over the clover, but the clover experienced a freeze at a delicate stage and died out. All this mustard is volunteer courtesy of our compost bin. Clearly, it doesn’t get hot enough in the bin to kill the seeds.

Two years ago we planted turnip seeds in July and had the happy surprise of turnip flowers in January.  The bees appreciated having a nectar/pollen source in the middle of winter.

Last year we tried growing turnips for the bees again, but for some unknown reason, most of them didn’t germinate…only a few in the middle row.  We were looking for a place to bury crab shell and dug it in on both sides of the few turnips.  They must have liked it because they grew HUGE.  Since there were so few and since my wife makes a delicious turnip soup, those turnips never got to go to seed.

This year we’d like to try it again…with lots of crab shell, and lots of turnips.  This is our attempt to ‘grow for the bees.’

I had to get the trench dug and bury the crab shell before work. Crab shell doesn't keep very long before getting really rank. It's in the bin in the wheelbarrow. A tire is weighing down the lid to keep the raccoons out of it. You don't want raccoons to make a mess of things. Uh, they will if it's not protected.

I had to get the trench dug and bury the crab shell before work. Crab shell doesn’t keep very long before getting really rank. It’s in the bin in the wheelbarrow. A tire is weighing down the lid to keep the raccoons out of it. You don’t want raccoons to make a mess of things. Uh, they will if it’s not protected.

A bucket of kitchen garbage...

A bucket of kitchen garbage…

...and a bin of crab shell...

…and a bin of crab shell…

...go into the trench.

…go into the trench.

This is what crab shell looks like after being buried for 8 months.

This is what crab shell looks like after being buried for 8 months.

July 9...The drip water grid is in place. We're ready to plant.

July 9…The drip water grid is in place. We’re ready to plant.

July 10...Turnip seeds planted and covered with vermiculite.

July 10…Turnip seeds planted and covered with vermiculite.

Deer net hoops set up.

Deer net hoops set up.

July 17...It looks like ALL the turnip seeds germinated this year.

July 17…It looks like ALL the turnip seeds germinated this year.

We better use some fabric to protect them from the wire worm.

We better use some fabric to protect them from the wire worm.

August 1...Hmmm. I think I planted these too close. I better thin them out.

August 1…Hmmm. I think I planted these too close. I better thin them out.

We'll be eating turnip greens for a few days.

We’ll be eating turnip greens for a few days.

I'm going to try some crab water mixed 1:5 parts water to see what happens.

I’m going to try some crab water mixed 1:5 parts water to see what happens.

August 1...I'm watering just the outboard rows of turnips with the crab water just to see if crab water encourages them to stronger.

August 1…I’m watering just the outboard rows of turnips with the crab water just to see if crab water encourages them to grow stronger.

This yearling deer is waiting for me to leave 'her' garden.

This yearling deer is waiting for me to leave ‘her’ garden.

Aug. 9...If a little crab shell is good, does that mean a lot is even better? Let's add some more on this side.

Aug. 9…If a little crab shell is good, does that mean a lot is even better? Let’s add some more on this side.

I better protect it from the raccoons. I don't want them tearing up the seedlings to get at the crab shell. If you're wondering where I got all the tires, I used to plant 60 tomato plants...inside the tires for warmth. I poked, cut, and drilled holes in each one to drain rain water out. Now a days, I'm not planting that many tomatoes, but it's costly to get rid of the tires...anyone want some free tires?

I better protect it from the raccoons. I don’t want them tearing up the seedlings to get at the crab shell. If you’re wondering where I got all the tires, I used to plant 60 tomato plants…inside the tires for warmth. I poked, cut, and drilled holes in each one to drain rain water out. Now a days, I’m not planting that many tomatoes, but it’s costly to get rid of the tires…anyone want some free tires?

August 23...Turnips are exploding with growth. Just in time because this part of the garden is starting to lose the sun.

August 23…Turnips are exploding with growth. Just in time because this part of the garden is starting to lose the sun.

August 23...Making Purple Top White Globe Turnips.

August 23…Making Purple Top White Globe Turnips.

August 29...Freshly picked turnip 'thinnings.'

August 29…Freshly picked turnip ‘thinnings.’

No bug holes, which is the reason why we use a 'pest protection' floating row cover.

No bug holes, which is the reason why we use a ‘pest protection’ floating row cover.

August 29...Turnip soup made from scratch by my Sweetie. :)

August 29…Turnip soup made from scratch by my Sweetie. 🙂

September 2...More turnip thinnings result in a Turnip Frittata.  Soooo very delicious!!! After reading about the health benefits of turnips, I planted more this evening.  If they flower in January or February, the bees will benefit as well.

September 2…More turnip thinnings result in a Turnip Frittata. Soooo very delicious!!!
After reading about the health benefits of turnips, I planted more this evening. If they flower in January or February, the bees will benefit as well.

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Where else would you see a sign like this?

Long Live the Bees! My daughter sent me this photo as seen on one of her walks in the

Long Live the Bees! My daughter sent me this photo as seen on one of her walks in the “Friendly Street” neighborhood. When I visited Eugene, I made an effort to find out the story of the sign.
The kids who live here attend the school where Jen Hornaday has donated a bee hive as a school project. In learning about bees, the kids have found out about their importance in nature, importance to our food supply, and how important it is to grow gardens in a poison-free environment.
Hence the sign.

Friendly Street, Eugene, Oregon.

Friendly Street, Eugene, Oregon.

In walking through the Friendly Street neighborhood, I noticed quite a few gardens in the front yards.

In walking through the Friendly Street neighborhood, I noticed quite a few gardens in front yards.

This is Scott's garden.  I was particularly impressed by his ambitious poles for pole beans.  I wondered how he would pick the beans at the top.

This is Scott’s garden. I was particularly impressed by his ambitious poles for pole beans. I wonder how he will pick the beans at the top.

Scott had to point out another of his creations.  I asked him what it was...

Scott pointed out another of his creations entitled “Coyote eating garden gnome,” sculpted during a wild creative evening of gin.

The blue flowers are Black Cumin.

The blue flowers are Black Cumin.  Black Cumin seeds are some of the most revered medicinal seeds in history.  Photo Credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

I wanted to ask the owner of Crow Feather Farm, about the solar panels array, but I was taken by all the flowers and time was short.

I wanted to ask the owner about the solar panels array, but I was taken by all the flowers and time was short.  Photo credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

I need a sign like this.  Photo credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

I need a sign like this. Photo credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

George explained while this is his garden, he shares space with the kids down the street who tend the squash.

George explained while this is his garden, he shares space with the kids down the street who tend the squash.

Carmella's corner lot garden.

Carmella’s corner lot garden.

This one year old is intent on one thing only...getting the sweetness out of the strawberry.

This one year old is intent on one thing only…getting the sweetness out of the strawberry.

This is Jim's front yard.  He apologized for the fence, but he says it keeps the deer out.  I can relate.

This is Jim’s front yard. He apologized for the fence, but he says it keeps the deer out. I can relate.

Where does the Friendly Street go?  To the Friendly Park, of course.

Where does the Friendly Street go? To the Friendly Park, of course, which is how I discovered this lovely neighborhood when my daughter walked us to it.

Playing at the park...You just might see the resemblance on

Playing at the park…You might just see the resemblance on “The Grand Kids Log Hive.”

Other reasons to like Eugene…

…Beyond Toxics is located in Eugene.  Beyond Toxics works to guarantee environmental protections and health for all communities and residents;

Sam Bonds Brewery,  just celebrated the first anniversary of the Tasting Room Opening;

Eugene Bike trails are quite extensive;  and it’s a great place to live.

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