Archive for the ‘gardening’ Category

R.I.P Salad Table

While yesterday was very busy it ended on a bit of a down note – our salad table which has been around for several years and which we grew some very delicious lettuces – finally died. Essentially one of the legs failed where it attaches to the table structure (it’s one of those things where I kept telling myself I needed to do something about it and reinforce it but never found the time) and *BOOM* – the whole thing took a dive. Sunday I’m going to clean it up and see what I can salvage in order to build Salad Table 2.0 🙂

On a different topic – the deer have once again claimed our day lilies…even though we have netting and fencing around the plant beds. I’m not sure just how they got in this time (I’m assuming one of them jumped over the netting – not that hard considering it’s only about 48″ tall) but they got in…I really hate the deer…they’re so destructive.


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After much effort we’ve managed to build a new fence for the garden. I’ve repaired the garden beds that were damaged in the 2010 storm that also destroyed the fence and I’ve even expanded the garden a bit more by adding a new area where I’m growing some sunflowers as a trap crop for the brown marmorated stink bug – hopefully that works. As part of the work I’ve managed to identify a PVC pipe under the ground (I’ve know it was there for years – it allows for water near the carport of the house to drain out to the street and which I’ve known was broken in one spot) that has become completely blocked up. I’ve known about this issue but it wasn’t that bad over the years. Well…looks like I need to dig up the pipe (which I have pretty much done today) and replace about 10 to 12 feet of it. This is a big job (relatively speaking) as I will need to dig under the fence of the garden and replace a 10 to 12 foot section of 4 to 5 inch pipe. Oh well – at least it’s on my radar now.

Other than that things are going well in the garden – harvested a bunch of sage, weeded the herb garden on the side of the house and weeded a bunch around the main garden out front. We’ve harvested a bunch of zucchini (which I will use to make zucchini bread today) and we’ve got a couple of cabbages that are about ready to be picked. The sunflowers are going very well (next year I will start earlier and provide a bigger space) and the scarlet runner beans have recovered from the damage caused by the deer earlier who did get through the fence (I never knew that deer would go under a fence (which I have now rectified).

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Fall Feeding

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about the bees and the garden. A lot has happened since the last entry. On Thursday, August 12 we had a massive storm come through the Silver Spring/Montgomery County area. The winds were really bad (I daresay we may well have had a micro-cell hit the area. A tree across the street (about a 60 – 70 foot oak) came down across the street and landed square in our front yard. The western portion of our garden fence was destroyed as well as part of the southern side of the fence. Additionally one bed had the second level of the raised bed frame (about 6 inches high) destroyed and another bed lost the back end of the second level of the raised bed frame. Fortunately the bees came through unscathed. I’ve started feeding them 1:1 sugar syrup in preparation for the winter as well as treating them with ApiGuard for varroa. I’ve seen some small hive beetles in the top level of the hives but nothing I can’t imagine the girls can’t take care of. Still have brood in one of the hives (a good sign) – haven’t checked deep into the other yet. I have added brood builder to the hive that seems more “laid back” like I did last year — the other doesn’t seem to need it. I’ll continue treating for varroa for the rest of September and sometime after Yom Kippur I’ll start feeding them 2:1 sugar syrup. The look like they’ve got good stores of honey…I just want to make sure they’re storing it in a tight pattern as well as make sure they’ve got plenty of bees going into the winter. Hopefully this winter won’t be nearly as bad as the last one.

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Checked on the girls again this afternoon. The hive on the left is just buzzing with activity — and I mean buzzing! I’m seeing workers and drone but I don’t want to take the hive apart at the moment to start hunting down possible queen cells. It’s the middle of the nectar flow and they are going great guns. I’ve added another super with 10 new frames (wax foundation – not trying plastic yet and certainly not using Duragilt) to the hive on the left. The hive on the right seems to be sluggish – it’s starting to get more active but it’s behind the other hive in terms of the number of bees as well as activity. I’m leaving the Brood Builder patty in there (they’ve only eaten about 1/3 of it – the other hive has polished it off completely) and will check again in a week. Don’t know if it’s worth putting another super on until next Friday. We shall see.

In other news I’ve built two Salad Boxes using the University of Maryland’s instructions found here as well as started on a Salad Table. Some pictures of the Salad Boxes are here:

I still need to finish the Salad Table but I’m really stoked about these salad boxes. I’ve got a lot of other garden projects to complete including finishing digging the garden beds, finishing the rain barrels, and expanding the garden to add one or two more beds this year. Lots to do!

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Well, I finally got out to take care of the bee hives. I’ve put down paving stones and moved one hive onto them and I’ve got 4 more paving stones (16″ x 16″) and I’ll put them down as well and move the second hive onto them. This way the feet of the hive stands won’t sink into the ground anymore and the hives won’t be tilted (although I have to shim the hive that is currently on paving stones to completely level it).

I’ve put an insert between the hive bodies and the honey super I left on during the winter on both hives and I’ve put some MegaBee patties in there. I’ve also put the hive-top feeders back on the hives. I whipped up a 1:1 sugar syrup and added 4 tsp. of HoneyBee Healthy as a supplement. I also will mix up some VitaGold as well. The bees seem to be doing well, I changed the entrance reducer to the larger opening (from the one-bee sized opening) as well as removed the bottom board inserts that I had put in to provide more insulation. Overall things look good…although I did see signs of Varroa…so I’ve decided to treat with ApiGuard for a couple of weeks. I’ll need to remove the ApiGuard trays though when I put the honey supers on (I built and painted two more and need to order another two). If everything goes well I should have some honey this year!

With regards to the garden Diana spent a good part of the day double digging 3/4 of one bed (I did the final 1/4 after I finished taking care of the bees). I’ve forgotten how hard that is…and we still have three more garden beds to do (as well as move the Bee Balm plants and the Butterfly Bush so that we can expand the garden). Still it feels good to get out there again and to work with my girls and the earth. Looking forward to this year with a lot of enthusiasm.

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Got word today from my wife that she went to the backyard to put some compost out on the compost pile and saw the bees flying into the hive with full pollen sacks. That’s awesome news as it means that the hives have brood and the queens are laying. Another good sign!

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I just checked the hives again (as well as refilled the hive top feeders) and in one of the hives, hive “A”, I only saw two small hive beetles (SHB) in the feeder this time (and I squished them). I opened the hive to check the frames for any sign of problems but everything looks good. I went down all the way to the bottom hive body and checked the brood pattern. Some of the frames are completely full of honey/sugar syrup in capped cells, there’s still lots of brood in the hive and and the bees are very active and busy. I didn’t see the queen but I couldn’t dig around so much as the bees began to get defensive and agitated that I was messing with the hive. While putting the hive back together I added a couple of SHB traps in the super above the queen excluder in order to try and trap any SHB that may be in the hive.

In hive “B” (the one on the left or the south side) I did not see any SHB in the hive top feeders and things are looking good. I didn’t see as much brood as there was in hive “A” but I did find a frame that was packed with brood in uncapped cells. One thing that bothers me is that almost all of the frames that I added to this hive — using Duragilt as the foundation — have comb on them that is incomplete. Rather than build comb on the entire frame the bees have built it only on part of the foundation. In the spring, assuming all goes well, I will be replacing these frames with new ones where the foundation is beeswax only with wire support. The hive has no problems with the frames in the super above the excluder (which is made with beeswax only).

I am waiting until this evening to go back out to spray the ground with nematodes who will burrow into the ground and feed on SHB larva. Once that’s done I’m going to wait a couple of days before putting down the diatomaceous earth around the hives. I’m going to install mite boards to determine varroa mite levels as well as Boardman feeders with water either tomorrow or the day after.

On the whole I’m pleased with the status of hives.

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