Garden in May

I love the May garden. Everything is so lush and and green.

3002 Garden looking SW, 5-8-16JPG

May 8…Looking over the garden to the southwest, Sue’s foxgloves (grown from seeds) provide the foreground colors, the volunteer Tower of Jewels (or echium Pininana) to the left, yellow turnip and kale flowers all attract the bees.

3007 Potatoes, peas, cultivator, 5-8-16

The potatoes are up.  I just tilled between the rows with the little cultivator below.

3009 Cultivator, 5-8-16

For several years, we tried to garden without using fossil fuel. We prided ourselves on the ability to spade the garden and then hoe out the weeds. But now we’re several years older. Last month when we were faced with the task of planting potatoes, my wife says, “Let’s get the old Troy-Bilt tiller out.” Yes, it started on the second pull, but it also is waaaay too big for the raised beds. Reverse doesn’t work on it anymore and plus…it uses fossil fuel!!! Enter the battery-powered Greenworks cultivator. It’s easy to use, works well in the raised beds, and USES NO FOSSIL FUELS!

2988 Peas growing outside, first time 20 yrs, 5-6-16

Peas planted outside…first time in about 25 years (because of the deer fence.)  I added a couple of rows of carrots in the middle after I tilled it one more time.

3005 Buckwheat, tomatoes, peas+carrots, potatoes, 5-8-16

Buckwheat is growing well, tomatoes need cages, peas and carrots, potatoes in far back.

2931 Sue plants corn, 5-2-16

May 2…..Sue plants some corn.

2941 Sue plants lettuce, 5-3-16

…and a second batch of lettuce.

2998 Tall lobelia transp. 5-8-16

Just for the fun of it, we bought some giant lobelia (Lobelia fistulosa) for the hummingbirds and bees. A daisy to the left and the Knockout dahlia in the center back. The dahlia has flowers that attract leaf cutter bees (at 1:18)  It’s fun to watch the leaf cutters in action.

3036 Creative drip watering, 5-10-16

II had to get creative with the drip water grid for the squash. I’ve been accused of planting the squash too close together in years past. This time, there are only 5 hills here, where I’ve planted 10 or more hills before. The idea is we will get more if we don’t crowd them. I left the turnip flowers for the bees (and for next year’s seeds)

3034 Drip watering Hubbard, 5-10-16JPG

Drip watering gets the water to the customer without wasting any.

3032 Drip watering squash, 5-10-16

Another look at it…I think these are Sugar Pie Pumpkins.

2944 Hubbard near, pumpkins far, 5-3-16

There’s never enough room for squash. We are trying some ‘container squash’ this year. It’ll trail down over the stump grinding experiment.

3023 Squash barrels, 5-10-16

These squash are up against the fence for a reason. They get the morning and afternoon sun. We might try using the fence to trellis them. The upside…more squash. The downside, I’ve got to water by hand unless I figure out a drip water solution.

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.



2838 Bee Beard's new hat, 4-22-16

April 23…Bee Beard’s new look, complete with peacock feathers. My wife says he looks like he’s yodeling. I say the hat is ‘functional.’ and I’ll get used to it, but no one can call us “mainstream.”

I know this isn’t a lovely hackle like Johnathon Powell’s log hive ‘thatch roof’ covering. but the hive had to be fixed before attracting a swarm and this is swarm season.  My wife suggested this stylish lid probably because she knew it would take me a long time to figure out a wooden solution.  A ‘long time’ means Pat’s not contributing to the gardening effort.:)

The top of the hive has to vent the air through the quilt box without letting in any rainwater.  How did the rainwater get in?  See below.

2814 Is this how rainwater got in, 4-20-16

See this crack in the headpiece? I think that’s what did in the hive. When I opened it up, the quilt box was soggy and the sow bugs plentiful.

2817 Split in 'hat' lets rainwater enter, 4-20-16

This is the underneath. That crack can leak all the way through, letting the El Niño rainwater into the top of the hive.

2809 Torched every sq. inch, 4-19-16

I took the hive apart, cleaned out all the comb, and torched every square inch (and centimeter).

2823 Quilt over scorched top bars, 4-20-16

I melted some old comb and stuck it back on the very torched top bars. A muslin cloth will cover the bars, then the quilt box goes on top.

2824 Quilt box fitted in top, above top bars, 4-20-16

A new quilt box goes in. It fits perfectly…after the third time I reconfigured it. Hey, I’m not a that good of a wood worker, but I try, try again.

2825 Screened holes to let air vent, keep yj out, 4-20-16

This is the key to the whole thing. Let the hive breathe, but don’t let the yellow jackets in. I drilled some holes in the top and screened them over.

2827 Clean observation window, 4-20-16

The observation window is cleaned up and fitted back in. It’ll be covered with a wooden plug. I like to see the bees comb building progress.

2831 Bee Beard, hat, 4-21-16

Then the hat goes on. Believe it or not, we had to get just the right one. This one lets the air come through under the hat, but keeps the rain out. My wife says, “Something is still missing.” We find a store that sells peacock feathers.

2838 Bee Beard's new hat, 4-22-16

Perfect!!!  Ready for immediate occupancy…

2779 Andrea's swarm, view, 4-16-16 copy

April 16…Andrea called to let us know she had a newly formed swarm, hanging about chest high off the yellow plum tree…did we want it? “ABSOLUTELY!”

2780A Shaking swarm into bucket, 4-16-16 copy

It was pretty easy to ‘pop’ the bees into the bucket…

2802A Brown Warré, 4-19-16 copy

…and into a Warré hive. Back to having bees again. Thank you, Andrea Gatov!

2756 Echium against blue sky, 4-15-16

I’ve been protecting this echium plant for two years. It has finally paid off with these bluish-red blossoms. Just in time for the bees. I think this is Wild Prettii echium.

2804A Bee near Echium, 4-19-16 copy

The day after we hived Andrea’s swarm, the bees were all over this shapely echium plant.

2804B Bee on Wild Prettii, 4-19-16 copy

One of our new guests partakes of the nectar.

2757A Bumblebees like it too copy

Yellow-faced bumblebees like it too.

2833 Turnip flowers, 4-21-16

Turnip flowers collect bees.  Is that a ‘hat’ on Bee Beard Log Hive???

22A Turnip flowers, 4-21,16 copy

April 21…Close-up on turnip flowers.


Garden Start

2638 Troy-bilt, first potato rows, 4-5-16

It ain’t purty, but this 40 year-old Troy-bilt rototiller still starts on the second pull. I tilled up a couple of early rows for potatoes. You can see the 4×4’s of the new deer fence in the background.

2661 1 1:2 rows Red Pontiacs+1:2 row Russett, 4-6-16

4-6-16….Two rows of spuds go in.

2606 Sue in baby bear bed, 4-4-16

My wife is very happy about the deer fence. It means she can plant some bee-loving flowers without the deer munching them. She’s planting some trachelium caeruleum in our baby bear bed. Once the fence is totally up, we will remove the cages around the fruit trees and Nine Barks.

2610 Buckwheat planted today, 4-4-16

4-4-16…..The buckwheat has been planted. Several years ago, it blossomed 3 weeks after I planted it. I’m hoping it’ll repeat, but the main reason I’m planting it is to enhance the soil

2611 Lettuce, hope 1 more year bed, 4-4-16

I hope I can buy one more year out of this raised bed. At the time, it was the only one we could use for the baby lettuce transplants which are growing well.

2501 Hypericum coming along, 3-6-16

Those little hypericum seeds from last year have come up. These are almost a month old. I don’t know what I’m going to do with so many…

590 Amelia's Hypericum, plnted 11-27-16

Amelia sent a photo of her hypericum. It looks like she might have to give some away too. 🙂

The hypericum above started off as a cutting.  In December, I sliced off the stem and jammed it into the corner of this planter.  It looks like it took…but what am I going to do with all this hypericum???

95 Clary Sage Salvia, 3-1-16

Clary salvia planted in mid February

2682 Clary Sage, 4-7-16

4-7-16….Clary Sage now.

2675 Wild Prettii planted outside, 11-27-15, 4-7-16

4-7-16….Wild prettii echium now, was planted outside 11-27-16.

2505 Echium starting to swell, 3-7-16

This is a different kind of echium. I’ve been nursing it along for a couple of years. It needs to be protected from freezing temperatures. I think I can see bud starts on it. See the next photo.

2635 Echium, 4-5-16.JPG+++

This is the same echium as above. The blossoms are a pretty blue color and we spotted bees on it today.

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

4-4-16….The deer fence has been started. I’m not a great fence fan, but if this keeps the pesky deer out, it will be worth it.”Happy wife, happy life.”

2686 Wire fabric started, 4-7-16

4-7-16….The wire ‘fabric’ is getting stretched and nailed on, starting in the far corner. Lots of gates for Pat, makes slow going for fence builders.

Are these bees going to move into Bee-atrice Log hive, or just tease us into thinking they will?

Bottling Day

2546A Sam Bond's Brewing, Owners,

April 9, 2015…The four owners at the Grand Opening. l to r…Jim, Bart, Mark, and Todd.

52 MBS Truck + cab, 3-21-16

The bottling truck is here…

8 Filbert Brown label, sharp, 3-21-16

Filbert Brown Ale is the first batch to be bottled.

16A Pulsing CO2 copy

The bottler starts pulsing CO2

38 Filbert Brown Ale, 3-21-16.jpg+++

Filbert Brown Ale…One of Jim’s first big winners. Jim talks about it on the video.

51 Crankshaft IPA label, 3-21-16

Crankshaft, IPA…dry hops with Citra and El Dorado and balanced with rye malt.

Crankshaft labeled copy

Crankshaft IPA bottles get labeled

2546 First pallet, Group, 3-21-16.JPG+++ copy

Owners and crew celebrate their first pallet of bottled beer.


.The very beginning…

This Teenager is Fighting Climate Change by Suing the Government

At about 12 minutes into the video, you can see that Sam Bond’s Brewing played a role by providing a gathering place for the kids fighting climate change.

2489 Hal looking at bees in #3, 3-4-16

#3 Log Hive is still occupied after 4 years.

 Number 4 Tall Hive in it’s glory days last year.

893B Hal stands next to #4, 5-21-15.jpg+++ copy

After not finding any decent logs, Hal bought some rough-cut red cedar and built this ‘log’ hive last year. This picture was taken after a swarm of bees decided on their own to move into it in May 2015.

20A Hal points out the bottom of natural comb, July 2015 copy

This was in July last year.  The bees built natural comb about 3.5 feet long.  The entrance to Hal’s observation hive is seen on the left.

21A The view from the back of back of the hive, July 2015. copy

Looking through the observation window, you can see beautiful natural comb.

23 Hal's Observation hive, 7-14-15

Hal’s observation hive was full of natural comb and bees at that time too.

So you can imagine the heartbreak of realizing the #4 hive was a goner in late September.  Hal took it down and opened it up…

6 Long comb, 10-1-15

We took the lid off #4 after we suspected it had died out. We were impressed at the length of the comb…but unimpressed at the lack of honey. It’s possible it was cleaned out by yellow jackets last summer because we could see a pile of cappings on the hive floor.

Not to be discouraged, Hal cleaned out #4 hive and tacked on some screens.

4A Ventilation holes covered with screens copy

Feb. 9, 2016…screened off the ventilation holes to keep the yellow-jackets out…

2A Added more honeycomb, foundation for this year copy

…added some honey comb and new foundation, and re-homed it.

1609 #4 Hive on location, back, 2-28-16-1

Late February 2016…Number 4 hive on location, braced against a tree for support, baited for more bees and in plenty of time for a nice swarm of bees to repopulate it.

1637 Observation window&Cover, 2-28-16

Feb. 9, 2016…Log hive #5, showing the observation window and cover. This hive is approximately 2″ thick (5 cm) and 8′ (2.4m) tall. A sheet of plexi-glass is mounted inner-most of the window which starts at just about the end of the foundation. I always admire Hal’s craftsmanship.

8 Hal's #5 Bottom screen+mite board 2-9-16

Another look at #5 log hive, awaiting its move to the new location. This photo shows the square access ‘window’ to a screen towards the bottom of the hive. Above the square is a slide-out mite board. Also pictured is the cover to the access hole.  Hal explains how it works in the video.

4553 Brodie Parrish, 3-16

Grandson Brodie Parrish helps Hal take off delivery straps.

4584A Hal setting up #5, 3-7-16 copy

Hive #5 just about ready for an April swarm. Hal is sharing his bee expertise with the younger generation.

884 Patti, pond, ducks, fountain, 5-21-15.JPG+++iPhone

Patti, a young 80 year-old, built this fountain and pond completely by herself.

Patti’s Poem

“Hal is Hooked on Bees” 

Oregon’s spring will be here before long
Birds will twitter their unending song
Trees, shrubs, flowers will come alive
Orchards and gardens soon will thrive

But, without the honey bees we are lost
Salubrious summer sun is tossed
On our gardens where we toil and till
Hoping bees come with a working will

Years ago we had plenty of Bees so true
But when the old century turned into new
Along came CCD, bee colonies collapsed
Trumpets began playing dead Bee Taps

Bee deaths plagued my husband dear
A calm bee keeper for many a year
Now we tell how he learned to care
To save Bees so all the world can share

In 1995 our friend thought of us to show
How Honey Bees helped our garden grow
A lush home garden must have bees near
Pollination! Don’t even consider sting fear

Two bee hives placed near our front door
Our friend kept stacking up supers galore
With the boxed frames beeswax filled
A new swarm brought in the honey swill

Every week supers were piled on high
Hives grew seven feet nearer the blue sky
We saw pollen carried into the new hive
On every bee’s legs & the colony thrived

Our friend baited Hal, he just had to say
Bees dance! To show where to work today
Scouts fly to find tree homes that are okay
Then they dance to show swarms the way

Well, Hal was hooked, he had to try
Do the bees really dance, as well as fly?
Yes, said our friend as he harvested honey
And that liquid gold lasts longer ‘n money

Honey! The only food that never spoils
Made by the Honey Bees unending toils
On Crest Acres the World Record was set
Two hives gave more than anyone bet

Honey, six hundred and thirty pounds
Hard to believe, when it was so near town
That honey was soon taken with care
It was like St. Nicholas had visited there

Our friend put honey in a clear pint jar
Sent to the County Fair, to the Judge’s bar
Clear as glass, our honey took first prize
Friend gives pint to Hal, enticement-wise

Seven supers of honey were taken away
But the winter-ready hive has honey today
The Queen rests, as her ladies slip along
Used-up drones no longer sing their song

Wind rakes and the rains soak forest trees
The Queen is surrounded by her lady bees
They work the winter cleaning wax cells
Waiting ‘til warmth rings the Queen’s bell

Lady bees search out dry days in winter
Like to leave their warm, comfy center
They’re full, eating plenty of pollen soup
On good days, they fly out to take a poop

Early spring pulls the Queen’s trigger
She lays 2500 rice-sized eggs – not bigger
Every day at each cell she carefully stops
Each of the six-sided cells gets one drop

Right at ninety degrees the brood is kept
While the warm neat hive is cleanly swept
As the nurse bees crawl quietly about
In 21 days little bees chew their way out

Coquille Valley’s growth is super awesome
Good and plenty spring/summer blossoms
The Queen works, but may get moody too
Gather her team and swarm into the blue!

Patti Strain, January 2012
Updated: March 15, 2016

Patti also wrote The Story of Hal’s Bee Trees

887 Hal and Patti, log flower bed, 5-21-15.JPG+++

Hal and Patti Strain