what’s growing

My last growing update was June 2.  Since then ripe tomatoes, blackberries and blueberries have come on stream.  And wild plants such as the pokeweed above, compete for attention.  Yesterday's basket provided a delicious salad - tasty tomatoes, cucumber, beans plus onions and garlic (not shown).  All freshly picked. I inter-sprinkled some seeds for large sunflowers in the growing area and the sunflowers are now between 9ft and 10ft tall. I also added color to Read more [...]

3 visitors near carport

Previously I mentioned my new bee watering station.  I am pleased to see more and more bees visiting.  I discovered if I increase the frequency of the water drops such that the water surface has continuing ripples they discover it more easily.  Otherwise they scout around the compost area and a couple today were investigating the liquid nitrogen drop off area and one had to be rescued (the container is now covered).  On my return to the house as I passed the post balustrade I Read more [...]

milkweed in the woods & a new bee watering station

It was M. who noticed them while I, deep in thought, walked right past.   From our book "Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses" (Miller & Miller) she identified it as Asclepias variegata - white milkweed. See picture above showing its distinctive showy 5-lobed petal crown. Milkweed is a favorite of the Monarch butterfly.  This is the only one we have seen in the woods and we resolved to collect its seeds and try extend its presence. Bees need water and I Read more [...]

back from week in San Francisco

Prior to my west coast trip I considered how best protect my plantings.  In my April 12 post I described planting out 33 tomato plants and my concern for frost damage.  There was no frost and my new concern was whether the plants would survive without irrigation for 8 days.   I deposited wood chips round the base of each tomato and watered deeply.  The 12 surplus tomato plants in the greenhouse I moved to the shade of the carport.  And I planted out 8 sweet pepper plants.  Read more [...]

beeswax

Last week we took about 2.5 gallons of honey from the hive - not a lot since we wish to leave the bees sufficient stores for winter.  But enough for our needs for making bread, sweetening our uncooked oatmeal and tea, and a few jars for good friends.  Inevitably scraps of wax are left over and what to do with them has been a learning process for me.  The first year I placed them in a stainless steel pet bowl outside the hive.  Bad idea - the sun heated the bowl, melted the wax and killed bees Read more [...]

unwelcome visitor & apples, squash and tomatoes +2-1

  I affectionately refer to the large non venomous snakes around our place.  But out here good goes with bad and the copperhead in the header photo, thick of body and (to me) ugly and close to the house, was an unwelcome sight. In north Georgia it is hot and dry.  Blackberry and blueberry season is over and now it's time for fruit and crops such as squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.  And this year my apples and squash are great yet many of my tomatoes have blossom rot.  Usually my tomatoes Read more [...]

fogging controversy & some local pests

It all began when Bill, a club member with several hives 600 feet from the local school, learned that Zika inspired pesticide applications had occurred and would continue.  It was little consolation to Bill that the fogging occurred when school was out, since Bill's bees do not observe the school's calendar. The April club meeting was, as usual, well attended and our eyes swiveled to the young man (when you are 66 most look young), Max, who stood uncertainly at the front of the room while the Read more [...]

pollinators busy

Last week (April 21) I was at the top of the hill watering the blueberries when I saw the busy bumblebees and honey bees. This year I added sulfur powder to lower the ph and also Starbuck coffee grounds and I am hoping for an even better blueberry yield. I mentioned to my neighbor a Southern saying that came my way - don't plant before tax day (April 15) and he replied that where we live which is in the foothills of Appalachia the last cold is when the blackberries flower.  And he Read more [...]

crazy weather

Now, 2 days after Christmas, the bees are out scavenging.  M. says wouldn't it be nice if they could find food.  I say bad idea - if they return with food to the hive, just as a dove returned to Noah's ark, it will signify good times have returned and the queen will be stimulated to egg bearing.  And with no food outside, the new bees will consume the hive's food supplies and threaten its survival. But the foraging bees have found food - the birdseed we provide for our winter dwellers (this Read more [...]

feral cat – mauled chicken – and solutions

I may not have mentioned that about 5 weeks ago a hen was taken by a predator, which reduced their number to 10 (1 rooster and 9 hens).   Each morning a timer opens the coop door when the sun is well up and the chickens emerge to a 5ft high wire enclosed paddock.  Except for 2 chickens - Randa and Wanda (from wanderer) who would fly over the fence to the greener grass the other side.  Well 5 weeks ago Wanda was not to be seen except for a scattering of her feathers.  The chickens at the time Read more [...]