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Posts Tagged ‘Garden’

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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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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This year has been a real challenge with respect to the Garden. We went away in mid-April to go to Texas to visit family and because of that we got a late start on the garden. On top of that it rained like crazy here in Maryland this year…I mean buckets! We had a really wet May and June…so much so that it seemed that our garden plants would never grow and we would lose the year.

Well…never count your chickens before they hatch as the old saying goes. Our garden has recovered dramatically and some of the plants are really producing lots of fruit. We released lady bugs as well as put out three preying mantis egg cases and tricograma wasp eggs to control aphids and other bugs. Anyway, I finally got out to the garden to take pictures and post them up here.

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I’ve been double digging the 4th bed this year since we really didn’t do anything with it last year (although I did double dig it last year). Anyway, I’ve noticed that the ground has pretty much re-formed as very heavy clay even though I double dug it last year. This has been very disheartening as it is a lot of work to get the soil broken up sufficiently to give the plants a good chance to grow. I did find a link to this article on the web that basically says that the only way to improve clay soils is to add compost and work it in over time. This may help explain why two of our beds this year have seen dramatically slower plant growth than last year. The far bed (the one on the eastern most side of the garden) has good plant growth (this is the bed with the Kentucky Wonders, snap peas, snow peas, and one other bean variety that escapes me at the moment). The two middle beds (the ones with tomatoes, peppers, lemon chive, and broccoli among the plants) are showing much slower plant development. It’s very disconcerting because I can’t seem to find much information on the topic of “failure to thrive” and tomatoes. Google hasn’t been much help in finding any information.

We’ve had a ton of rain for the past few weeks and so that may also be a contributing factor.

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I finally finished putting the last touches on the 4th garden bed by driving the stakes to hold part of the sides into the ground and screwing the sides to the stakes. Now, unfortunately, I’ve found out that I’ve got to double-dig that bed all over again as the soil appears to be nearly all clay once more. I found an article that said that in order to slowly, over time, improve your soil you need to add more compost to it to help break up the clay. Well…that’s great…and I thought I was all done with double digging until next year!

On a different note another member of the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association came out to look at my hives since I was concerned that the comb build-out wasn’t progressing as well as it could be. We looked at both hives and he said that in hive ‘A’ (the one on the right and the one I have yet to see the queen in) there wasn’t a lot of brood in the few frames we had inspected but we did manage to find the queen and we did see developing brood in the comb. They also haven’t really even started building comb in the second hive level that I put on early last week. I did note that alot of bees were dead in the syrup in the hive-top feeder and I’m not sure why that would be the case.

In hive ‘B’ (the one on the “left”) we spotted the queen quickly, there was lots of brood comb and the bees have even begun to build comb in some of the frames on the second level hive body. They looked really strong. He did suggest that since the bees are in a shaded area that I prop the outer hive covers up a bit to allow for more ventilation as it has been pretty wet lately and the cool weather along with the moisture could lead to mold developing. I also probably need to paint the hive top covers where there is exposed wood.

Overall he said things looked good and that if it appeared that one hive was building more comb than the other then I could swap frames from one to the other in order to kind of help the weaker hive along. I’ve got some work ahead to do such as building out the supers and the super frames (I’m using crimped foundation rather than Duragilt for the supers) and I’m going to wait until the hives finish the current syrup in the hive top feeders before I take them away and replace them with pail feeders. I’ll keep a close eye on both of the hives to see how they’re progressing this summer and whether they’ll need help by swapping frames or even moving brood from one hive to the other.

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I finally finished raising the height of the garden beds.  We added an additional 6 inches of height to each bed which will allow us to have a really nice raised bed garden.  I still have a lot of composite boards left over to build the other beds that I want to make for the extension of the garden.  Now that I’ve gotten the beds raised I can turn my attention for a while to other projects — finishing the rain barrels, new composters, rebuilding and refurbishing the bench on the front stoop, moving the butterfly bush (which got a severe whacking yesterday to cut it back), finishing the paths in the garden and covering them with wood chips, and others that are on my todo list.

We’ve planted two out of four beds at this point — the eastern-most bed has beans in it — Kentucky Wonders, Snap Peas, Snow Peas and one other which I’m blanking out on right now.  The second bed has tomatoes, bell peppers and some herbs.  We’ve got broccoli and lettuce growing in large pots for now but want to transplant them into the beds.  Below are some pictures from the garden for this year.

Picture of garden from entrance

Picture of garden from entrance

Eastern-most bed

Eastern-most bed

Third garden bed

Third garden bed

While out there I also got some pictures of bumblebees on the Bee Balm plant that we have just behind the garden.

Bumblebee on Bee Balm

Bumblebee on Bee Balm

On a different note I’ve gotten some feedback on some questions I had regarding my hives and I need to go out there tomorrow and add the next level of hive body and frames to the hives. I’ve also ordered 4 super kits as well as foundation from Dadant.

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