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 [...]

stuck waiting

I am in a holding pattern and were it not for the glorious weather I would be frustrated.  From my jungle clearing work and regular pruning and also clearing growth around the chicken paddocks (to better spot and dissuade predators) I have amassed a lot of chipping material. The bush hog is mounted to the tractor and I would like to complete all the bushhogging for the season before I replace it with the chipper.  I only bushhog a couple times during the year and growth rather than kempt Read more [...]

mushroom, brier & oak

As anticipated, the recent heavy rains kickstarted fungi activity in the woods.  Lots and lots of different mushrooms. The one above is for me the most attractive.  Here is a grouping of various ages. And yet another pic. Brier I last cleared the area between the house and the road in October 2012 and worked hard to remove the bramble and brier.  Three years was too long to wait and again my oak saplings were submerged below pines, poplars and snared with brambles.  And Read more [...]

growing update and unusual sights

With shortened sun hours and fall in temperatures, my summer vegetables are yielding, as too are the pests which feasted on the chard, collards and greens.  So I have been clearing the raised beds, adding compost and cool season seeds such as kale, spinach (after 1 week germinating stint in the refrigerator), and turnip greens.  Also lettuce and radishes for harvesting before it gets too cold.  I had packets of several years old seed and not knowing which was viable but knowing that with each Read more [...]

whats growing

By September the large tomatoes have passed their prime, tho the small varieties - Juliet, Black Cherry (our favorite), Jelly Bean, Sweet Cherry - are still producing. The Juliet is a hybrid and also grows well and tastes good. The burgundy okra is producing well - the smaller okra can be eaten raw off the plant, the oversized are tough and the covering is stringy even after grilling (we grill rather than fry) and the transition from small to oversized happens within a few days, so Read more [...]

2 good books, water sustainability, okra & butterfly season

I never used to read science fiction.  But technology and sustainability hold my attention and I read good futuristic books on these topics.  "Ghost Fleet" a technothriller on the next world war portends problems with technology and is well researched with extensive footnotes.  Now I have completed my interactive Python programming course with Rice University via Coursera, I have begun my next read, the Water Knife about a water starved west beset with dust clouds and violence.  Both are excellent Read more [...]

3 sisters, a new brush, problem = solution, food from the garden

3 sisters 3 sisters refers to the practice of growing corn, climbing beans and squash closely together with the corn providing scaffolding for the beans, the beans providing nitrogen fixing and their hairy stems dissuading insects, and the squash shading out weeds and enabling water retention by the soil.  My 3 sisters appear to be doing ok, though I now realize some fine tuning is needed for next year. You can see the beans wrapping round the stalks. But is the corn handy scaffolding, Read more [...]