Monday, May 31, 2010

the 2010 garden goes in

more pix to follow - but this was the first bed i put in today.

i got almost all of them done, tonight i am soaking corn, bean, watermelon, cucumber and summer squash seeds.

all of the tomatoes have been planted (25), radish, carrots, melon and bell peppers are also in and done.

a look into the beehives

its been quite a few weeks since i hived up a few swarms and have given the bees a chance to settle in. if you poke into a hive - particularly a newly hived swarm - you run the risk of the bees just leaving. ask keith, he knows....

i have been keeping the sugar water pretty steady and wanted to see how the wax was being drawn out and check the brood patterns, to see if the queens are laying well.

i am seeing good numbers of bees everyday doing their orientation flights; by all accounts the hives are doing well.

hive #1 - first swarm i picked up in serrano. i was unable to find the queen, but the egg pattern looks fine.

hive #2 - second swarm, i picked up in folsom, is still the better populated hive, found the queen, all looks good. (first picture - red oval)

hive #3 - third swarm, also picked up in serrano. found the queen and had a good brood pattern also. (second picture - red circle)

both queens i found are italian's - by virtue of their yellow coloring. all of the swarm queens will be replaced in late june with new world carniolan queens, i will buy from strachan apiaries in yuba city. nwc's are typically more docile than italians and also tend to over winter better.

most of the hives had 7 out of the 10 frames drawn out, so i added a second super with frames, so the bees wont feel crowded and be of the mind to swarm. the bees are taking about 1/2 gallon sugar water about every 3 days; sugar water will be continued until all frames are drawn out.

one thing i did note, there was very little stored honey in the first super of both hives, something i will have to keep an eye on going forward - as no stored honey will mean a dead hive next winter.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

tomatoes on the ground

i have mixed feelings on this. as this screwy weather is so unpredictable, its just plain risky putting tomatoes in the garden - and its late may!

so today, i planted 3 tomatoes and set them up with walls-o-water.

usually, early planting with this device would be march or possibly into early april. this would set the plants up for a jump start in may, when the walls-o-water would be pulled off and - walla! you have giganto plants and tomatoes in june.

if i did such a thing this year, i would have had a real problem. most likely would have had plants taller than the walls and - BAM, a frost like we have had over the last few weeks and then a dead plant. frontyard nursery did the walls-o-water thing back in february and it snowed - even walls-o-water cant help with that. the snow filled in from the top and that equals sad tomatoes.

whoda thunk i would be worried about frost and tomatoes in may. lets see how this rolls.

number 1

todays farmer fred garden grappler had me dialing into his show. luck would have it, i was caller number 1.

the question - 'name a piece of drip irrigation - and be specific.'

the answer - 'anti-siphon valve.'

was really hoping for caller #5, but i was a little too quick on the trigger finger. keep up the good work fred. and now you can be fred's facebook friend:

its done been dripped

it sure doesnt look like much, but it took the better part of two days to get the new drip irrigation into the beds.

whats new?

i have tacked the 1/2 inch main line to the new kiester boards, keeping it out of the dirt. i added a cut-off valve on each bed, as i have found that as harvest time rolls thru, i dont need to waste water on a bed with no growing vegetables.

originally, the 1/2 inch main line was only extended down one side of the bed, with the new design, i extended the 1/2 inch main line onto 3 of the four sides. this will allow me to position the drip sprayers and get better coverage than i was able to get last year.

i'm thinkin' this new design is gonna work out real fine.

kiester boards

just over a year ago - i advised you of my test installation of top boards on a raised bed.

the project came up again this year as i was re-engineering the drip irrigation of my beds and realized that to take the drip to the next level, i would have to have the kiester boards installed prior to dropping in the drip.

farmer fred recommends one uses 2x6's, but my original plan was to use 2x4 redwood lumber - primarily because it was cheaper and i am - well, cheap. and i figured 2x4 would be ok. as i found out 2x4 was barely adequate - but i would make it work. there was barley enough room for a cheek, but cost is sometimes the over ruling factor.

luck would have it, but one year later - by a pure fluke of economics and maybe some sort of other-world vortex in the lumber industry; right now, 2x6's are cheaper than 2x4's.

go figure.

so i bought the required lumber and spent 2 days installing my new kiester boards. 2x6 is definitely more butt friendly than 2x4 and it was cheaper - itsa win-win. my wallet approves, the cheeks approve - and the 2x6 is actually quite comfy and the beds are now 100% complete.

the 12 beds are in and done. now to move on to new drip.

Friday, May 7, 2010

online garden rebate

kellogg's garden products is offering an on-line $1 rebate per bag (up to 10 bags) if you buy thier products. i just happened to run across this and in case you havent heard about it. here you grow - er- go.....

our local radio gardener farmer fred is sponsored by these guys - so help yourself and help fred by buying these products and put a little green back into your pocket.

and they are hiring too....

a lesson learned

being green has a cost. in my case last night, it was time.

i planted clover as a cover crop in my raised beds to help build up the soil. the plan was to rototill the plants in once i am ready to plant.

last night i started to do just that. rototill the clover into the beds. lets just say it was less than successful.

in order to ease the rototiller's work, i sheared the clover with hedge shears - but to no avail. the clover wrapped around the mantis tiller's axle and about every 3-5 minutes i was trying to cut away clover so the mantis could continue its tilling task.

plan 'A' was a bust.

plan 'B' - which wasnt really plan 'B' because i did not fathom i would have a wrapping issue with the mantis. hence no plan.

but plan 'B' was hastily thrown together and turned out that i would have to pull out the majority of the plants or said plants would wrap around the mantis tiller shaft and grind it to a screeching halt. it worked, as i only had to clear clover about two times while rototilling a bed.

the problem is i spend about 30 minutes per bed pulling out the clover plants. which means less clover being put into the beds. dont get me wrong - the clover isnt being wasted. my youngest son (in his endeavor to earn enough money to buy a leopard gecko) is cheerfully taking the pulled/sheared clover to the compost pile. so the clover will be destined for the beds - eventually. another surprise is how deep those roots of the clover go. most of these plants are just locked in to the dirt and arent easily pulled up.

last night, i got through 5 of the 12 beds - way slower than i anticipated. BUT i did get to listen to the rivercats get beat up by the SLC bees (come on cats whats up with you guys this year).

for 2010 - it seems this is a lesson learned. a quick google search shows a weed wrap preventer for the mantis - anyone have any experience on this contraption?