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Posts from the ‘Garden’ Category

Busy Bees

img_4848-mTwo weeks ago we split my one hive–it had several queen cells on one frame. There weren’t a lot of things in bloom and so we added four frames of honey to feed them until they could start feeding themselves.

But that means I will need more supers–places to store honey–and maybe even another one or two hive bodies if I need to split again. Splitting is supposed to reduce varroa mite infestation and also to reinvigorate a hive by the growing of a new queen–and hopefully preventing swarming. As the initial hive was a captured swarm–we were more than a bit concerned.

So I ordered unassembled hive bodies, an extra super, and a nuc (a baby hive). And we put them together Sunday morning. Not a bad job–although I had glue all over my fingers and hands. After they dry, I’ll put the foundations in and take them out to the shop to live in the shed until we need them for the hive. I”m hoping for a bumper crop of honey this summer.IMG_4847-M.jpgimg_4847-m

Spring is here

My mother always used to ask what we were doing on Sunday afternoons when I would call. She was in Wisconsin and I was either in balmy Augusta Georgia (read frequently sweaty) or in upper coastal Texas where we have a few more ocean breezes (read hurricanes and tornadoes on a too frequent basis).

In January the daffodils and the snowdrops would start poking their heads out of the ground. Sometimes there would be blossoms in early January–those blossoms were surprisingly hardy as one year we had freezing rain–the blossoms were coated with ice and I thought I would have just brown withery things–but the ice melted and the blossoms still smiled and waved gently in the breezes.

This year has been an odd year–I have one azalea already blooming next to the camellia (which did not bloom for either Thanksgiving OR Christmas)

But now the snowdrops are blooming-=-they are usually first and pretty much gone by the time the daffodils burst into bloom–but I now have both daffodils and snowdrops in bloom–with more of them blooming in the next few weeks.

I”m posting this for all of my friends who are still dealing with snow and ice and dreading the mud and flood season.

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Freshly picked

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Two years ago I bought a satsuma tree sapling from the local Master Gardener’s twice yearly sale. I brought it home and put it in the back yard until my husband could return home and plant it. Toby, however, had different ideas. She was sure there was something wonderful buried underneath that tree and dug it out of its pot—along with the huge Christmas cactus.I put them both back in their pots only to come out a bit later and find them dug up again.

Lee, who cuts the grass, happened to be there working on the yard–and so I asked him to plant it somewhere in the front yard where he thougtht it would flourish. It was supposed to go to the shop but that ground out there is very hard and I didn’t think that poor tree would be too happy bare-rooted for another two weeks.

 

So Lee planted it and it grew—a little bit. We didn’t see many blossoms the next year and no fruit materialized. But this year there were many blossoms and many nubbins of fruit—most of them cast off—but we did harvest about ten total—

There is something about picking a piece of fruit and eating just a few minutes later.

Buzz’s the word

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One of the necessary tasks of a beekeeper is hive inspection. Winter is coming and even though this area is not particularly harsh compared to my younger days in Wisconsin, the bees need to be prepared. Some people end up feeding their bees through the winter months as flowers and nectar are not so plentiful as in the summer months.

We always suit up to work the bees—including gloves and veil although by the end of our working, I took off my gloves to work the camera.

LIghting the smoker is always a bit of a challenge–and then there is all that smoke—–and then the bees become alarmed and start flying around—more concerned and confused than angry or upset.

First cover is taken off, more smoke, and then the inner cover. The hive tool–a miniature crowbar is used to to r pry the parts of the hive apart– frames are lifted out and inspected. We discover–some nectar in the top box, the second box is loaded with honey but no brood. We stopped there–the last time we inspected brood the queen flew away.

No varroa mites, no hive beetles and a box full of honey—we didn’t turn the doorway to the smaller opening but it is still 80 degrees during the day—

 

But look at the pollen the girls are bringing back into the hive–all to feed the brood in the spring.

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More photos are here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Bees/

 

 

What is it?

This week’s assignment was to photograph something that would take some time to guess the object.

I knew immediately what item I would photograph—and here it is….

Weir What is it

 

Can you guess what this is?

 

 

It is clay pellets designed for orchid potting and this is one of my orchids that is now resting after a six month bloom earlier this year.

Honey anyone?

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I’ve been called ‘honey’ and ‘darling’ by southern gentlemen in Georgia and Texas and never minded even though it was a business venture or a not so intimate encounter. Some women really minded but I didn’t.

However, I digress.

yesterday I went to my shop to mow the back–I had been dreading this as the weeds had really gotten out of control due to our prolific rains. My little garden tractor just could not see its way clear to mow through eight inches of water. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that the neighboring huge field with the big brush hogs had mowed that section for me. I still had to mow but it was so much easier than the bit that I had done.

And then I decided to tackle the bee hive. I donned my bee suit, and fired up the smoker—after several attempts. Smoked those bees, lifted the top cover…then the inner cover–hive tool is vital in prying things apart. Then removed four frames that were dripping with honey, brushed off as many bees as I could with my gloves–some kept sneaking back–and then put them in a new Hefty tub bought just for that purpose. I could hardly lift that tub–and that was only half of my frames.

 

Put that tub on front porch, consulted bee experts, and went back, brushed off the few remaining bees and brought it home. Uncapped the honey and let it drain into two roaster pans, then strained it. And bottled it this morning–scrambling for enough jars to hold it all—–and baked some fresh bread to have for breakfast this morning with my newly harvested honey.

I accomplished this by myself–but advice from all the professional and experienced beekeepers was muchly appreciated—and now my keyboard is sticky with honey like most of my kitchen.

 

One of the dogs helped by licking the honey that dripped on the side of the counter and off onto the floor—a mopping is in the very near future.

Two Figs and Three Cherry Tomatoes

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What is is about freshly picked produce that makes it taste so wonderful? And if it is something you have grown yourself? So much better.

About two years ago my husband and I went to the Master Gardener’s sale at the local airport. I bought a peach tree and he bought a fig tree. The fig tree was about 8 inches tall while my peach tree was about 5 feet tall and had three peaches on it.

That fig tree looked pretty sad and tiny for the first year but now it has grown quite a bit and now has lots of figs on it–all about the size of a quarter. Two have been plundered by birds. My peach tree had quite a few tiny peaches on it but threw them all off in our Noah’s Ark deluge of several weeks. I guess it just doesn’t like having wet feet.

So later today I will taste those figs–and put those tomatoes on a nice salad. Alas my lettuce has gone to seed–too hot here for good lettuce–and since I have had inroads of the native grasses into my raised beds, I will be going to all stock tanks for my raised beds–less bending over for me–and no invasive grass.

 

And I need to water my bees–a pet watering system from Tractor Supply—a fun place to shop.

 

And then back to the workroom for my latest art piece—maybe I’ll show that tomorrow or the next day.

And in case you wanted to know why there is a pocket knife in the photo? It is Weir family tradition to include your Swiss Army knife as a reference for size. My knife is securely put away in my desk drawer  to avoid confiscation while trying to do things like pay taxes at the courthouse or maybe fly somewhere. It along with my tape measure were always part of my purse or backpack contents along with a sketchbook–no lipstick though.

A date with the Weeds

Pulling weeds is not a fun task but challenging when faced with this fellow.red20wing20blackbird20in20ragweed20forest-m

Peaches

Last year I bought a peach tree at the spring Master Gardener Sale—and harvested exactly one peach that was about an inch across.

This spring I had high hopes for so many peaches I would have to beg people to take them or leave them on their doorsteps secretly at night.

The tree obliged by a wealth of blossoms.

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I really didn’t realize the blossoms were so complex and so pretty—and such a lovely scent–almost outdoing the satsuma in the other part of the front yard—the tree that Toby dug out of it’s pot twice before I begged the yard man to plant it. It was down to bare roots when it finally got a home. It is covered with tiny green balls that will hopefully become satsumas.

The peach tree set four peaches–better than last year I thought.

But then we had Noah’s Ark type of deluge—and the tree dropped the fruit, dropped many of its leaves–and now I am just hoping it will survive until next year.

I’ll have to buy peaches at the grocery store—and my neighbors can all relax–no  midnight skirmishes with bags of fruit at their doorsteps.

No More Jumping

While capturing my image for the past week’s assignment of decisive moment, I discovered—-wait for it…………………..

Elderberries! And at the end of the field! and not inside anyone’s fence!

Elderberry Jelly was a staple of my childhood. My mother made pint jars of it having given up on the cute little jars with the paraffin wax topping given five boys with enormous appetites. She also discovered elderberry syrup, having mistaken something while making jelly. This made for an excellent sop for home-made bread or biscuits-=-a daily offering at each and every meal.

One of my brothers was accused of having a bit of bread with his jelly–he heaped the jelly so high.

While we had elderberries on the farm, we also lived on a gravel road and so those elderberries were coated with dust–my mother preferred the ones from my grandmother’s house in town. Grandma would pick them into paper bags and call my mother to come get them.

Elderberry jelly making was a hot process in July—we picked the berries off the stems, boiled them with some apples slices, then strained that huge pot–and then made the jelly.

 

So when my good friend pointed out the elderberries hanging over my neighbor’s fence, I decided to see if I could make some jelly. I picked all that I could reach–even jumping up to get some. I noticed jars of the jelly for sale at the local grocery store for a lot of money! Who knew that common jelly of my childhood was a specialty item here?

I made about four jelly jars of jelly from that foray—-and offered a jar to the neighbor—but now I have trimmed that elderberry bush back from the fence—I would have to sneak into their yard—but NOW—I can walk over to that field with bags in hand and collect the florets.

 

I may even try some elderberry blossom wine.

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