Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

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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A bee sipping nectar on Autumn Beauty sedum

A bee sipping nectar from the  Autumn Joy sedum

Last year I discovered a new bee-loving flower.  My wife and I were visiting with Hal and Patti when I spotted a bunch of bee activity on some reddish blossoms.  Patti said it was Sedum.  I had heard of it, but I’ve never paid much attention to it.  Now that I’m keeping bees, I’m all ears when it comes to flowers that attract bees.

So we bought some from our friendly nursery…bees started working it as my wife was carrying the potted plants out to the garden.

The plants will winter over, but protect them from the deer which will eat surely eat the blossoms as we found out.

This sedum has wintered over and is on it's way to flowering in September

This sedum has wintered over and is on it’s way to flowering in September.  This time I’ve got it inside a deer fence.

I shot some video of the bees working the sedum.  It’s a good time to plant some now hint, hint…:-)

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These seeds are from last year's Back-eyed Susan vine.

These seeds are from last year’s Black-eyed Susan vine.  Big and easy to plant.

Thunbergia Transplants, also called Black-eyed Susan vines, attract leaf cutter bees.

Thunbergia , also called Black-eyed Susan vines, attract leaf cutter bees.

These are not much to look at right now, but today we transplanted the Thunbergia seedlings into a hanging basket and left them under the fluorescent lights until the weather warms up.   This year we’ll provide some bamboo tube housing near by.

This is what we are aiming for...last year's vine...and where we saved seed from.

This is what we are aiming for…last year’s vine…and where we saved seed from.

Black-Eyed Susan with leaf cutter 'cut-outs

Black-Eyed Susan with leaf cutter ‘cut-outs

I haven't seen any sign of the leaf cutter bees on this plant, but it's not for lack of blossoms.  We're real happy with the way it turned out from our own saved seed.

August 9, 2013 I haven’t seen any sign of the leaf cutter bees on this plant, but it’s not for lack of blossoms. We’re real happy with the way it turned out from our own saved seed.

August 27, 2013...This Thunbergia plant just keeps growing and growing.  You can see an Echium in a pot below and the hop vines that my son-in-law said wouldn't grow in my coastal town, at the top.

August 27, 2013…This Thunbergia plant just keeps growing and growing. You can see an Echium in a pot below and the hop vine that my son-in-law said wouldn’t grow, at the top.  I haven’t seen any “cut-outs” yet.

 

This is the video I shot last August of the Leaf Cutter Bees slicing up petals from the Thunbergia as well as a nearby Dahlia.  I’m looking forward to getting more video this year.  Hope they were planted early enough.

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This little patch of land is going to be the hugulkulture bed

This little patch of land is going to be the hugel kulture bed

My son started looking at perma culture ideas.  “Hey Dad, I was thinking about building a Hugelkulture bed.  You put in logs that are loaded with mycelium and plant in them.  You don’t ever need to water.”  “That’s interesting,” I said, “but you don’t have any room for something like that.”  “No, but YOU do.”  That’s true and I’m always game for trying out a new idea.  My son has helped me so much.  He installed my solar projects, roofed my house and shop, and repaired a bunch of rotten siding on the house.  Why NOT try this out?  I’ve got lots of rotting logs too.

Pick and shovel work

Pick and shovel work.  I don’t think I’ll go down any deeper because I’ll hit water at this time of year.

This will be a little experiment.  I’d like to plant bee-loving flowers like Nasturtiums, Wall flowers,  and other flowers which the deer won’t eat so I don’t have to fence it in.

The next weekend I was working on a burn pile of  accumulated storm debris.  This had been piled up for a few months.  We wanted to get the place cleaned up for visitors, this weekend it wasn’t raining, so it must be done NOW!  Everything was so wet it, it was going to be an all day affair.  As the fire got built up, I started pulling out branches to burn and starting seeing wonderful mushrooms and examples of mold.  I didn’t want to destroy this beautiful living organism, so I started collecting it for my hugelkulture bed.

White tinged dusty pink mushrooms on log.  It would be a shame to burn it...toss it into the pit.

White tinged dusty pink mushrooms on log. It would be a shame to burn it…toss it into the bed.

Yellowish mold on branch

Yellowish mold on branch…into the bed.

White mold on stick

White mold on stick

Whitish pink mold on branch, toss.

Whitish pink mold on branch, save it for the bed.

This log is saturated, look at the moss growing one it.  Good candidate for the pit.

This log is saturated, look at the moss growing one it. Good candidate for the bed.

I figured the mushrooms and mold grew because it was in contact with the wet branches and bamboos leaves, so I better add them to the mix.

I figured the mushrooms and mold grew because it was in contact with the wet branches and bamboo leaves, so I better add them to the mix.

Double split-pea soup made from scratch from my sweetie, so I could have something to eat while I tended the fire.

Double split-pea soup made from scratch by my sweetie, so we could eat while I tended the fire.

Not as neat and tidy as the Hugelkulture web site, but hey, let's face it, nature is messy.

Not as neat and tidy as the Hugelkulture web site, but hey, let’s face it, nature is messy.

Rotting firewood, mold all over it...into the bed

Rotting firewood, mold all over it…into the bed

Are the drops of sap feeding the mycellium?

Are these drops of sap? Are they feeding the mycellium?  I don’t know, but it’ll be good for the bed.

What it looks like so far

What it looks like so far

Added more rotting logs this end

Added more rotting logs this end

Centipede roaming around in the power wagon...into the bed!

Centipede roaming around in the power wagon…into the bed!

I think it's done..."Honey, you can shovel all the dirt in now..."

I think it’s ready…”Honey, you can shovel all the dirt in now…”

The folks at Shroomery were kind enough to tell me what the ‘mushrooms’ are…”metabolites, fungal pipi, or mycelial piss.”

Hugelkulture Update

More interesting mushrooms…

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Myy new raised bed made from scrap siding.

My new raised bed made from scrap siding.

After watching a video about extended season gardening about 15 years ago,  my wife and I decided to try it out.  We had to make a few adjustments to keep the tents from blowing down in the wind.  By strapping 1.25″ pvc to the inside of the wood we can adjust the height of the hoops…one year we’ll have short hoops for greens, the next year we’ll have tall hoops for tomatoes.

Those raised beds served us well, but are starting to rot.  When we replaced some partially rotten wood siding on the house, I decided to use it as a replacement raised bed.  I sawed out the rotten areas and just cobbled these together to get a 4′ x 16′ x 14″ tall bed.  (1.22 m x 4.87 m x 35 cm)  I painted this time with some left over house paint, hoping it will protect the wood for another 15 years.

I added two drip watering grids by using 8′ (2,44 m) pieces of pvc.  The joints do not have to be glued because with all the holes drilled in them, they won’t leak.   I drilled the holes about 6″ apart (15 cm) on each side and then plant where the water comes through.

Companion planting  (Look at the comfrey site too)

We’ve had trouble with growing carrots in the past.  Sometimes they fail to germinate.  If we get them to grow early in the season, the slugs get them.  So we wait until July or August, but then we get a carrot maggot, those little worms that tunnel into the carrots.  So in an effort to grow great carrots AND avoid the tunneling worms we found leeks to be a good companion plant to carrots.  They repel the carrot fly.

Drip water grid.  By not gluing the joints, I can use the same hose to grid connection, by slipping it off one grid, and onto the other.

Drip water grid. By not gluing the joints, I can use the same garden hose to water grid connection, by slipping it off one grid, and onto the other.  Also I can ‘mix and match’ the pvc to fit longer or shorter beds the following years.

Carrots and leeks growing well

Carrots and leeks growing well

3/4 inch pvc hoop slips easily into socket (Looks like I didn't paint it very well)

3/4 inch pvc hoop slips easily into socket (Looks like I didn’t paint it very well)

Deer love carrot tops, so to avoid building a 10' (3 m) fence all around the garden, we opt to net everything.  I've tried twine, wire, and now fishing line

Deer love carrot tops, so to avoid a high fence all around the garden, we opt to net everything. I’ve tried twine, wire, and now fishing line to tie the netting to some pvc.  It’s a very tedious job, but once it’s done, little effort is needed to flip the netting off.  Just remember to flip it back or the deer will enjoy.

By placing the plastic, I can decide to protect against the raging storms, or to let a gentle rain soak the soil

By placing the plastic, I can decide to protect against the raging storms, or to let a gentle rain soak the soil.  In winter, I keep the plastic on to protect them in frost or the occasional snow.

Healthy carrots and leeks

The reward are healthy carrots free of little black worms and leeks for the winter dishes.

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This shed was being dismantled at a mill near where I live.  I had to ask what they were going to do with it…and that’s how I ended up getting this 900 sq ft (83 sq. mtr)   building.  The cinder blocks in the foreground provide a bridge during the rainy season mid-October til late May.

We love to garden but with our shallow well we knew we had to be careful with the water and not over plant  In the winter we would watch all the rain fill the creek and wash into the ocean…in the summer we had to be frugal.  Since this shed had a metal roof I started thinking about catching some of that rain water to keep for the summer.  I wanted an above ground tank so I could gravity feed…no need for a pump.  I found a used 3000 gal tank that was in good shape and set it up on the gravel bed.

After getting one tank I figured it was such a great idea, i bought a second tank knowing the price would never be lower.

After getting one tank I figured it was such a great idea, i bought a second tank knowing the price would never be lower.  I extended the gutter down pipe to reach.  This photo was taken about 9 years ago when I started using them.

Watershed to tank via hijacked gutter.

Watershed to tank via hijacked gutter.

It helped to have the kind of downspout that is circular so I could adjust to any angle.

It helped to have the kind of downspout that is circular so I could adjust to any angle.

The sieve catches any small debris that might have made it down this far...keeping it out of the tank.

Every year we clean the gutter first and then let the first few rainfalls drain to the ground, rinsing the roof of pine needles, bird poop, and leaves.  The sieve catches any small debris that might have made it down this far…keeping it out of the tank.  It also holds the pipe in place, as nothing is glued.  I need to be able to adjust to the second tank.

Only 5 days of rainfall, this tank is full.  I've got to hook up the second tank.

Only 5 days of rainfall, this tank is full. I’ve got to hook up the second tank.

Our annual rainfall is 60 inches  (1500 millimeters) which we receive between mid October til late May.  In the summer sometimes there’s no rain for 3 months.  That’s when we need more water for the blueberries, fruit trees, and artichokes.  We tap into this water, but we have to remember to shut it off.  We can easily lose 1800 gallons overnight!

This water is used ONLY for irrigating the garden, not for drinking water which would have to be filtered.

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It’s a quick job to shred the leaves with the mower.

We always follow tomatoes with garlic.  One of the few winter crops, it grows from Halloween to the July 4th harvest.   After  the tomato vines have been pulled out, we add our soil enhancers…

Shredded leaves ready to be added to  coffee grounds and crab shell as soil enhancers

Shredded leaves ready to be added to coffee grounds and crab shell.

I get as much crab shell as I want from Tony's Crab Shack in town.  It's only about 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip by bicycle, my transportation of choice.

I get as much crab shell as I want from Tony’s Crab Shack in town. It’s only about 4 miles (6.4 km) round trip by bicycle, my transportation of choice.

All these things are trench composted into the soil along with kitchen garbage and the odd sunflower stem or comfrey leaves.

Smooth the soil level and hook the hose to water grid.

Smooth the soil level and hook the hose to water grid.

Break apart the garlic bulb into individual cloves...

Break apart the garlic bulb into individual cloves…

Push garlic clove into soil to just below soil surface, "hair" end down.

Push garlic clove into soil about 3 inches deep, “hair” end down.  This one should be pushed down a little more, but we were just posing it and wanted a ‘handle’ to pull it back out.

Garlic planted almost a month ago is just starting to show.

Garlic planted almost a month ago is just starting to show.

What is garlic good for?  GOOD HEALTH and BEE STINGS!

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