Monday, July 19, 2010

caller #5!

no applause necessary - really folks - its all in a days work. but yesterday, 7/18 - i was caller #5 on the get growing with framer fred show. his garden grappler was to name a determinate tomato.

easy question, as i usually have a tomato catalog handy - hard part was i was at home depot when he asked the question. apparently, it took folks some time to come up with the answer and dial into the show, as i was able to complete my shopping trip, go home find a catalog and still call in.

the prize was an awesome master gardener catalog, which i really wanted, but some time ago, the fred made a deal, the next time i got caller #5 he would offer me a vintage krak 1140 marketing glossy with all the dj's on it. it seems when i was a kid, fred was the late night dj - while i knew joey, rick, jim and hal when krak was the 50,000 watt country music powerhouse in nor cal (alabama? conway twitty?, mel mcdaniel? anyone, bueller?, bueller?) - fred's work day was a bit after my parent imposed bedtime and i didnt ever hear him on the air.

so true to his word, the 1981 vintage marketing glossy is on its way courtesy of usps. thanks fred, this prize is the best one yet.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

the current project

between fishing trips and scout events, i get a few things done at the house. albeit, not as fast as i did back in the day. this started right i after finished the kiester boards in the garden. i had to keep the deer out my garden.

i currently have a 5.5 foot picket fence surrounding the garden. i knew that wasnt enough to keep deer out. deer can clear a fence, upwards of 8 feet high - maybe higher, depending upon the athletic prowess of the deer and how hungry they might be at the time. but i do have aesthetics to be aware of. so just couldnt install an ugly barrier to make the garden 100% deer proof. the compromise is an idea i picked up from joe lamp'l a tv gardener guy who happens to be a facebook friend. behind the fence is a series of poles that are almost 10 feet tall. these poles, once electrified, it is hoped that the deer will find food easier to obtain elsewhere.

these poles have been waiting for about 2 years to be put to use. so this week i started to electrify the fence. there are 4 strands that surround the garden. 1 waist high, and 3 that are about 6 feet, 7.5 and 9 feet off the ground respectively. next step is to add in a feature that will compensate for wire expansion/contraction throughout the seasons and connect the wires to the solar powered charger.

first harvest of 2010

radishes dont count - they are too easy. but i got the first purple bells of the year. sliced up, placed in ice water and yum, yum!

somethings eating up my garden

over the past few weeks, i have noticed something nibbling at my plants.

first it was my bean sprouts missing their new leaves. next it was my watermelon plant. a leaf here, another leaf there. the beans were chewed in a manner that was reminiscent of slugs or snails - but there was no tell-tale slime trail and i hadnt seen any up here at all.

maybe it was deer, but when they get in the garden, they typically will not chew a few leaves; they mow through everything. i mean everything, from tomatoes, to trees. so i was a bit stumped. and whatever ate my watermelon seedlings, set the plants back a couple weeks.

then today. today i witnessed the guilty party. while i was up in the garden taking a water break, the wife that is lisa brought up a nice glass of melon water and with her came the ever faithfull dog jed. he who is the head of ranch security, the dispatcher of the deer, the eater of the doggie snacks. he non-chalantly walked over to the bean patch and took a nibble off one the plants.

'A-HA!' i found the culprit. right in broad day light, in front of witnesses, i found the leaf nibbler. to wit - the wife said 'oh - isnt that cute he is eating his greens.'

if my eyes could have bugged out like a stomped on toad, i would have. 'What?' i said. 'now i know he's been doing this, he has lost all garden privileges.'

so i had grandpa cut a plywood door - which will keep jed on the yard side of the garden. its a sad day in mudville, but if you cant trust your bird dog - who can you trust.

hives 7,8,9

i have a problem.

i collect far too many hives until it becomes a chore and its not as much fun. there i said it and i feel better.

the bottom.line is - if i know a wild hive is destined to be destroyed, due to circumstances beyond its control, i feel an obligation to do what i can to save it. martyrdom? do-gooder? dont really know, but off i go to help out.

well, thats what happened, when keith and i got another call from the construction site, where we had pulled 3 previous ferral hives. he had 3 more that had to go. so, one early saturday morning keith and i set forth and did our duty. keith got into his ritual bee gear, but did go sans gloves - so he is getting tougher :)

the process of clearing out a wild hive is pretty messy and sting prone. bees are pissed and dont appreciate thier home being wrecked - even if it is to save thier lives. one wild card is always - did we get the queen - you will never know until you go back later in the day to pickup the hive box. if th e bees are in there - you got the queen. no bees in the box, you missed the queen and the whole prcoess starts over again.

through the series of photos, you can see keith smoking up the hive and as we progress on through claiming the brood comb and honey comb. finally we see the end result of wearing no bee gear.

thats right, i am wearing a fat lip, two quick pops by 2 different bees, pretty much showed the bees sometimes get the last word in the deal. well, 3 new hives are up in the garden and ready for combining into other hives to strengthen them up. as for the chore - i have taken my name off the swarm list at the bee store. now its all fun again - even the stings.