Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

May 31...The Bee Garden is shaping up after Sue added her brick work.  We like it so much we're going to add more on the other side.   The photo shows just some of the bee-loving plants we're growing...some from seed, some from our favorite nursery.

May 31…The Bee Garden is shaping up after Sue added her brick work. We like it so much we’re going to add more on the other side.
The photo shows just some of the bee-loving plants we’re growing…some from seed, some from our favorite nursery.

I just noticed these ferns practically overgrowing the little Birdhouse Bee hive.

I just noticed these ferns practically overgrowing the little Birdhouse Bee hive.

I successfully trimmed the ferns without getting stung.  The bees probably don't care one way or the other, but it gives me a clear shot with the camera.

I successfully trimmed the ferns without getting stung. The bees probably don’t care one way or the other, but it gives me a clear shot with the camera.

Are these drones?  It almost looks like it.  Drones sometimes mean swarms (before or after)...I'm hoping this is before so I can encourage them into an empty Warre hive with their name on it. :)

Are these drones? It almost looks like it. Drones sometimes mean swarms (before or after)…I’m hoping this is before so I can encourage them into an empty Warre hive with their name on it. 🙂

May 31...The hugelkulture bed needs a little more work for sure.  This is a 'before' picture.

May 31…The hugelkulture bed needs a little more work for sure. This is a ‘before’ picture.  I’d like to make a little path going past the hive and circling back past the sunflowers I just planted (if the slugs don’t eat them first.

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The potatoes have been weeded and hilled up.  An interesting observation...the two rows on the right were planted a month before the two rows on the left.

The potatoes have been weeded and hilled up.  ‘Survivor*’ garlic is on the left and Meadowfoam is in the background, fenced away from deer, but still accessible to the bees.  I’ll be using 12 foot lengths of 1/2″ PVC to drip water the potato rows.  The seed potatoes were planted at about 9″ distances which match up to the holes drilled into the PVC drip watering system.  *Survivor garlic is garlic that made good sized bulbs even though it got the rust virus.

The first bed of tomatoes has been transplanted from the light stand in the house. We've used the tire method for 30+ years. They will dissipate heat into the evening. The night temps will get down into the mid 40's (7C) even sometimes in the summer, so we've got to tent them.   You might have noticed the wild mustard patch in the background...that started out as a clover patch.  I wanted to grow clover to enhance the soil.  I rigged up this PVC arrangement to hold the deer netting off the expected plants.  I wanted to see the bees visit the clover blossoms in the spring.  Then we experienced a cold snap.  The clover died and the mustard plants germinated from the compost we spread out.  It grows well, but I'll probably have to spade it into the soil before it goes to seed.

The first bed of tomatoes has been transplanted from the light stand in the house. We’ve used the tire method for 30+ years. They will dissipate heat into the evening.
The night temps will get down into the mid 40’s (7C) even sometimes in the summer, so we’ve got to tent them.
You might have noticed the wild mustard patch in the background…that started out as a clover patch. I wanted to grow clover to enhance the soil. I rigged up this PVC arrangement to hold the deer netting off the expected plants. I wanted to see the bees visit the clover blossoms in the spring. Then we experienced a cold snap. The clover died and the mustard plants germinated from the compost we spread out. It grows well, too well.   I’ll probably have to spade it into the soil before it goes to seed.

A closer look at the tomatoes and watering grid.

A closer look at the tomatoes and drip watering grid.  The 1/2″ PVC has been drilled so the water drips out near the plant.  I’ve been using these for over ten years and it works well.

May 4th...The second tomato bed goes in.  You might notice the 'cloddy' soil.  I was soooo tempted to pull out my rototiller to break up the soil, but I resisted.  We've been trying to prove that we can garden without the use of fossil-fuel.  We are trying to reduce our carbon footprint.  So the soil is a bit lumpy and we're hoping the tomato plants don't mind too much.

May 4th…The second tomato bed goes in. You might notice the ‘clumpy’ soil. I was soooo tempted to pull out my rototiller to break up the soil, but I resisted. We’ve been trying to prove that we can garden without the use of fossil-fuel.  So the soil is a bit lumpy and we’re hoping the tomato plants don’t mind too much.

We've been eating lettuce and spinach from this first bed of salad greens for about three weeks.  My wife likes the wild arugula, but it's a bit hot for me.

We’ve been eating lettuce and spinach from this first bed of salad greens for about three weeks. My wife likes the wild arugula, but it’s a bit hot for me.

March 28...Planting the second bed of lettuce, Parel cabbages which were started in the house, purchased broccoli plants and maybe some collard greens.

March 28…Planting the second bed of lettuce, Parel cabbages which were started in the house, purchased broccoli plants and maybe some collard greens.

We've got to protect them from the cabbage moth.

We’ve got to protect them from the cabbage moth.

May 3...Peeking under the cloth to see how the lettuce is doing.

May 3…Peeking under the cloth to see how the lettuce is doing.

We planted the edible pod peas in the greenhouse in February.

We planted the edible pod peas in the greenhouse in February.

...and have been using the pea pods in salads and soups for a good month.

…and have been using the pea pods in salads and soups for a good month.

April 25...Since the deer like to munch on nasturtiums, we've got to protect them.  What better way than to clean out the weeds around an apple tree and plant them there.  These are a new kind that will sport red blossoms.  I hope the bees like them.

April 25…Since the deer like to munch on nasturtiums, we’ve got to protect them. What better way than to clean out the weeds around an apple tree and plant them there. These are a new kind that will sport red blossoms. I hope the bees like them.

May I say something else about Limnanthes  Douglasii Poached Egg Plant (Meadowfoam)?  It wintered over without any kind of frost protection like a tarp or a pile of leaves.  It was tough love for sure because it's in a section of the garden that's in the shade until noon.  This was self seeded from last year's crop.   The Vision Violet Geraniums also wintered over well.  Together they have been attracting the bees in the afternoon hours.

May I say something else about Limnanthes Douglasii Poached Egg Plant (Meadowfoam)? It wintered over without any kind of frost protection like a tarp or a pile of leaves. It was tough love for sure because it’s in a section of the garden that’s in the shade until noon. This was self seeded from last year’s crop which was about 1/4 the size.  (What have I started?)
The Vision Violet Geraniums also wintered over well. Together they have been attracting the bees in the afternoon hours.

May 3...I know, I know, I shouldn't have to transplant borage because it grows 'like a bad weed' around here, but there was an empty spot in the hugelkulture bed after I weeded it and the bees love it so much.  Three spade-fulls and I've got a three more spots to video the bees. :)

May 3…I know, I know, I shouldn’t have to transplant borage because it grows ‘like a bad weed’ around here, but there was an empty spot in the hugelkulture bed after I weeded it and the bees love it so much. Three spade-fulls and I’ve got a three more spots to video the bees. 🙂

This Cardinal Climber is supposed to attract hummingbirds.  We've started it under lights in the house.  My wife is going to donate a couple of plants to try to get it to climb up the echium 'tree.'  I think it'll be fun to see if we can get some birds and bees.

This Cardinal Climber is supposed to attract hummingbirds. We’ve started it under lights in the house. My wife is going to donate a couple of plants to try to get it to climb up the echium ‘tree.’ I think it’ll be fun to see if we can get some birds and bees.

May 3...

May 3…”Reach for the sky,” little Cardinal Climber…

...You will have to if you want to climb this

…You will have to if you want to climb this “Tower of Jewel” echium tree.  It’s 12 ft tall and growing.

I just bought this African Blue Basil.  Jeff, at my favorite nursery, tells me it's a super bee magnet which will blossom all summer.   He knows how to tempt me.

I just bought this African Blue Basil. Jeff, at my favorite nursery, tells me it’s a super bee magnet which will blossom all summer. He knows how to tempt me.

May 5...Because the bees were visiting the moss in the pond so much and because someone mentioned that his Dad used moss for a watering station, I thought I'd try it out.  Who knows, the bees might be getting some kind of essential minerals or properties from it.  I just dug some up, found a plastic container and try to keep it hydrated.  It's the only waterer I've had any success with.

May 5…Because the bees were visiting the moss in the pond so much and because someone on the biobees.com forum mentioned that his grandfather used moss for a watering station, I thought I’d try it out. Who knows, the bees might be getting some kind of essential minerals or properties from it. I just dug some up, found a plastic container and try to keep it hydrated. It’s the only waterer I’ve had any success with.

Time to roll out the

Time to roll out the “Solar Roller.” Things are drying out. This ‘solar panel roller’ can be positioned to catch the early rays of the sun as well as the sunset. I can get about 10-12 hours of sunshine if I’m conscientious about moving it twice a day.

Forgive me if I'm talking about this new bee bed too often.  It's just that we wanted to add more flowers for the bees without taking away space from the veggie garden.  This was the perfect solution...but after adding Walker's Low Nepeta, artichokes, Scabiosa, and red echium, we're already running out of space.

Forgive me if I’m talking about this new bee bed too often. It’s just that we wanted to add more flowers for the bees without taking away space from the veggie garden. This was the perfect solution…but after adding Walker’s Low Nepeta, artichokes, Scabiosa, and red echium, we’re already running out of space.

This started out as a garden video, but there was so much excitement today with two swarms happening and bees (from where?) checking out my new log hive.  I had to include some video below.

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It should be raining sideways right now in March, but because the East Coast is grabbing all the cold air, we’ve been enjoying 66˙F weather on The Oregon Coast.

Because of the warm spell, we were able to move some things off the light stand and into the garden.  These lettuce, Parel cabbages, and (bought) broccoli were put into ground today.

Because of the warm spell, we were able to move some things off the light stand in the house and into the garden. These lettuce and Parel cabbage plants, and (bought) broccoli were put into ground today.

March 28...66˙F (18˙C)  Looking at tomorrow's weather forecast, I'm going to have to look for a shade cloth for the new transplants.

March 28…66˙F (18˙C) Looking at tomorrow’s weather forecast, I’m going to have to find a shade cloth for the new transplants.  Michael Marlow says it was 28˙F in Western Massachusetts this morning, lightly snowing on the foot of snow already there.

We even brought the Sun Oven to bake up a pot of beans.

We even brought out the Sun Oven to bake up a pot of beans.

While my wife was transplanting, I was preparing a base for my new log hive.  The wood carver said he would bring it out Monday.  I think I'm ready with packed sand under these heavy cement blocks.

While my wife was transplanting, I was preparing a base for my new log hive. The wood carver said he would bring it out Monday. I think I’m ready with packed sand under these heavy cement blocks.

When I proposed using an old bird feeding station on the log hive, Brian Vorwaller went quiet.  I don’t think he really wanted to see that old thing on top of his beautiful creation, so he asked me for another chunk of wood.

March 21...From this chunk of wood comes...

March 21…From this chunk of wood (in the care of the wood carver) comes…

...the pitched roof that will serve as the rain-shedding top of my Grand Kids Log hive.

…the ‘shake’ roof that will serve as the rain-shedding top of my Grand Kids Log hive.  It’s hard to see, but the quilt box is on the bottom 4 inches of it.  Brian worked it into the design so well.

March 28...To the bees' delight, our flowering cherry tree is in full bloom.

March 28…To the bees’ delight, our flowering cherry tree is in full bloom.

 

The Tower of Jewels echium are going to bloom this year...HOORAY!  I've waited two years for this.  They should bloom for about 3 months giving out nectar all day long.  How do I know they will bloom?

The Tower of Jewels echium plants are going to bloom this year…HOORAY! I’ve waited two years for this. They should bloom for about 3 months giving out nectar all day long. How do I know they will bloom?

They have shot up about 4 feet in the last month, but the telltale sign is under the leaves where they meet the main stem...bud beginnings!

They have shot up about 4 feet in the last month, but the telltale sign is under the leaves where they meet the main stem…bud beginnings!

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Siberian Squill, that is.

“An excellent source of blue pollen,” says BBHB, who has graciously given me permission to use his photo of Siberian Squill.

Planting instructions according to Wisconsin Master Gardening Program:  Plant the small bulbs in the fall, placing them 2 to 3 inches deep and 2 to 4 inches apart.  Because of the ephemeral nature of the foliage, this small bulb can easily be grown in sunny lawns. To plant Siberian squill in turf, scatter the bulbs randomly in the area you want them. Then punch or auger a hole in the sod, using a dibble or other implement (some people suggest a cordless drill with a large bit), wherever a bulb has fallen. Place the bulb (pointed side up) at the bottom of the hole and fill in with additional soil. Wait until the bulb’s foliage has started to die down in spring before resuming mowing the lawn.

That sounds easy enough.  I’m planting them tomorrow.

One of the first spring-flowering bulbs, easy to grow, cold hardy,  blue pollen for the bees..what’s not to like?  It’s considered invasive.

Discussion about Siberian Squill on beesource.com  Why is it that so many of the plants that bees like are considered invasive???  I’m planting anyway because it’s an early food source, good for the bees,  can grow in my lawn, is deer resistant, and will go dormant by mid May.

The cordless drill worked well.  I planted 50 bulbs hoping it would be enough to get videos of bees carrying blue pollen in March.

November 9, 2013…The cordless drill worked well. I planted 50 bulbs of Siberian Squill hoping it would be enough to get videos of bees carrying blue pollen in March.  Snowdrops will be going in as soon as I can find a source.

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Squash and corn area 6-1-13, with water grid.

June 1, 2013…Squash and corn area with PVC water grids.

July 6, 2013...Squash and corn growing well after mulch added to keep soil from drying out.

July 6, 2013…Squash and corn growing well after mulch added to keep soil from drying out.

July 24, 2013...Squash and corn bed, almost ready to harvest some.

July 24, 2013…Squash and corn bed.  Corn is starting to tassel..

Despite the fact that the Oregon Coast gets about 60 inches (1500 mm) of rain a year, we still are very frugal about watering.   Overhead sprinklers not only waste water but can invite plant diseases.  We’ve found drip watering works well…but how do you water squash which is spaced so far apart?  Over the years, we’ve developed a method that gets the job done with a little effort at the beginning of the season.  It’s as easy as playing with tinker toys.

PVC can deliver straight to the customer...but these connections are the screw-in type that I started with about 15 years ago.  I've since graduated to slip-ons...cheaper and easier to work with.

PVC can deliver straight to the customer…but these connections are the screw-in type that I started with about 15 years ago. I’ve since graduated to glue-less slip-ons…cheaper and easier to work with.

This connection can swing in any direction for the water hose connection.

This glue-less connection can swing in any direction for the water hose connection.

You don't usually need a water pressure reliever, just turn the shut-off valve on your hose if the pressure is too high.

You don’t usually need a water pressure reliever, just turn the shut-off valve on your hose if the pressure is too high.

The garden hose adapter slips on the length of PVC.  Use the thinner type of PVC (cheaper as well) because you'll be drilling holes in it and it doesn't have to hold pressure.

The garden hose adapter slips on the length of PVC. Use the thin-walled type of PVC because you’ll be drilling holes in it and it doesn’t have to hold pressure.

Tees, couplers, and ells, are just about all you need besides the hack saw and 10 foot lengths of the thin walled Schedule 20 pvc.

Tees, couplers, and ells, are just about all you need besides the hacksaw and 10 foot lengths of the thin walled Schedule 20 pvc.

You can economize by sharing a hose connector between two grids.

You can economize by sharing a hose connector between two grids.

Need new holes, just drill where you want it...be careful though, it's a little tricky getting the bit to stay put on a round surface.

Need new holes, just drill where you want it…be careful though, it’s a little tricky getting the bit to stay put on a round surface.  Don’t hold it in your hands or on your lap.  If you slip…well, you get the picture.

Too many holes?  Wind electrician's tape to block off extra holes in unwanted places.

Too many holes? Wind electrician’s tape to block off extra holes in unneeded  places.

Need to get over a raised bed?  With the slip-on connections, it's much easier.

Need to get over to top of a raised bed? With the slip-on connections, it’s much easier.

Don't plant first and then figure out how to water it...it takes more work like this one.

Don’t be tempted to plant first and then figure out how to water it…it takes more work like this one, a real mess.  My SO was in a hurry to get the seedlings in.

July 6, 2013...I'm trying a new compost tea.  It's made from soaking comfrey for three weeks.  I've added it to the right row of corn only for comparison.

July 5, 2013…I’m trying a new compost tea. It’s made from soaking chopped-up comfrey leaves for three weeks. I’ve added it to the right row of corn only for comparison…it sure smells bad, if it doesn’t work I’ll know why.  Footnote…my wife doesn’t think much of it.

An example of drip water PVC that didn't work.  I tried this on the Hugelkulture bed.  I'll have to work on this a little more.

An example of drip water PVC that DIDN’T work. I tried this on the Hugelkulture bed…back to the drawing board.

I space the potatoes at 9" apart.  The holes are drilled in the pvc at that distance.  This stick is the length of all my potato beds.  When I finish with one, I can move it to the next row.  I use it year after year, but you know, you have to rotate your crops.  Don't follow tomatoes with potatoes, or potatoes with potatoes.

Drip watering potatoes…I space the potatoes at 9″ apart. The holes are drilled in the pvc at that distance. This stick is the length of all my potato beds. When I finish with one, I can move it to the next row. I use it year after year, but you know, you have to rotate your crops. Don’t follow tomatoes with potatoes, or potatoes with potatoes for at least a year, preferably two.

This is how I water all my tomatoes.  You space the holes where you want the tomatoes, lay the grid in the bed, plant where the water drips out.

This is how I water all my tomatoes. You space the holes where you want the tomatoes, lay the grid in the bed, plant where the water drips out.

The start of our winter lettuce...This year I'm determined to grow enough for the winter...might be a little early though.

The start of our winter lettuce…This year I’m determined to grow enough for the winter…might be a tad early though.

July 28, 2013...time to thin lettuce and turnip greens.

July 28, 2013…time to thin lettuce and turnip greens.  I had to get the deer net up, the deer are hungry, and we are on their dinner route.

This new fawn was frisking around like they do.  I was able to catch it by waiting it out.

July 28,2013…This new fawn was frisking around. I was able to catch it (on camera) by waiting it out.  It’s momma was showing it where the best places to eat were.

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We've got a good start, though some sunflower seedlings got chewed down by the slugs

6-3-13 We’ve got a good start, though some sunflower seedlings got chewed down by the slugs

Lots of self-seeded borage.  The bees like it, but I'm going to have to thin it.  I want the other plants to grow and I'm especially excited about the meadowfoam.

6-18-13 Lots of self-seeded borage. The bees like it, but I’m going to have to thin it. I want the other plants to grow and I’m especially excited about the meadowfoam which also is a self-seeding bee-loving flower.  The bee hives and the new bee flower garden are in the background.

My new motto is..."If the bees love it, leave it.

August 19, 2013…My new slogan is…”If the bees love it, leave it.”  The bees LOVE borage.  I let it grow in the Hugelkulture bed even though it’s not real pretty.  The pretty flower, Poached Egg Meadowfoam was also well liked by the bees, then the deer spotted it, now it’s gone.

Looking at the north side.   Clearly I should have listened to my wife when she warned me that squash wouldn't do very well the first year.

Looking at the north side. Clearly I should have listened to my wife when she warned me that squash wouldn’t do very well the first year.  In that regard, it’s a failure…but the main goal was to grow plants that the bees love.  Nasturtiums never made the list.  Don’t let anyone tell you they are deer proof.  They are not and I never saw a bee get close to one.  The borage self-seeded itself and the bees love it, so rather than pull it, I’ll just let it grow.  The bees will sip nectar until late in the evening, so in that regard, it’s a success.  We also added 3 echium ‘trees’, which seem to be doing well.  We hope they will all shoot up to be “Towers of Jewels.”

The beginning of this project…

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I just love standing on this bridge and seeing all the work Hal and Patti have done.  It's so beautiful.

I just love standing on this bridge and seeing all the work Hal and Patti have done. It’s so beautiful.

Hal called me up last week to say he took some video of a bee swarm flying INTO his unoccupied bee log.  I’m thinking “Well, that’s a first.  Whenever I see a swarm, they are flying OUT of something…like a hive.”  I had to see this.  While I was there I shot some photos of all the work they have done.  I draw inspiration every time I visit.  It was here that I learned about sedum and what a wonderful bee loving flower that is. There is so much color here, so many flowers.  It surely takes hard work and dedication to keep everything looking so good.

When I first saw all the bees sipping nectar on these sedum, I knew I wanted a bunch.  It's clear it's nectar they are after...I didn't see a speck of pollen in their pollen baskets.

When I first saw all the bees sipping nectar on these sedum, I knew I wanted a bunch. It’s clear it’s nectar they are after…I didn’t see a speck of pollen in their pollen baskets.  This photo was shot at Patti’s garden in September 2012

It didn't take long for the bees to set up home. They  swarmed INTO this log, April 18.

It didn’t take long for the bees to set up home. They swarmed INTO this log, April 18.

Patti's gunnera growing under the bridge

Patti’s gunnera is growing under the bridge

Hal and Patti on bridge, May 10, 2013

Hal and Patti on bridge, May 10, 2013

This video shows the swarm of bees moving INTO the  vacated log hive.  Hal explains what is going on as he shoots the video on his iPhone.

All this is natural comb, built in less than two months from when the bees swarmed INTO the log hive.

All this is natural comb, built in less than two months from when the bees swarmed INTO the log hive.

Hal’s first log hives

Hal talks about his log hive

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