Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Busy Bees

Busy Bees Need A Beehive


We've had a lot of rain in our area lately.  More than normal, causing some flooding in our local streets and leaving small pools of water in our clay laden backyard.

We did finally site the beehive on the other side of the tree where the slump block bees already live.  It's all nice and water tight from the linseed and beeswax paint job.  I still need to make the lemongrass tincture to entice them.

The bees look to be quite crowded, many of them outside the slump block hive washboarding.  I've been
trying to look out for drones, a sign that the food supply is getting thin and the bees conserving the hive supplies for the contributors.  I haven't seen any.

The only event I witnessed was one bee running off another bee, but it was a single event and it looked like the bee didn't fit in with the rest of the group here.  No real sign of robbing.

I read somewhere online that older bees have less hair, but a biologist seems to refute that theory, so I don't really know how old these little bees are.

No fanning, no guarding, no defensiveness, really.  So, things must be going well, is all that I can surmise. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What's Growin On In September

Agepostemon on Mentha spicata, Metallic Sweat Bee on Mint
Agepostemon on Mentha spicata,
Metallic Sweat Bee on Mint

What's Growin On In September 


September can be an iffy month, weatherwise. Rejuvinate solarized planters with some organic amendments. Turn the soil over, break up clods. Re-use the old soil and mix it up with Martha Stewart's all-purpose soil mixture. Instead of peat you can also use coconut coir for a longer standing moisture rentention material. Many of these ingredients are also great to have on-hand for making your own hypertufa planters.

Divide and Conquer

It is also the right time to divide perennials. Some bulbs like tulips and hyacinths need to be chilled in a paper sack in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator for four to six weeks or they won’t bloom. If you haven't put them in the refrigerator yet, now is the time to plunk them in there and mark your calendar to plant the bulbs next month.

Feeding:

Dig amendments into the soil. For a potted garden, a great mix is a 14-14-14 Fertilizer for flowers and vegetables. Mix it throughout the rejuvinated soil. Water it well, then water again just before planting. If you hadn't fertilized your citrus in August, do it now. Apply ammonium sulfate to help it make larger fruit. For onions, use gypsum instead of sulfer, unless you like really strong and hot onions. If you like them strong and hot, definitley use sulfer. Tomatoes and peppers would like a 21-0-0 ammonium sulfate and ironite sprinkled on moist soil around teh entire top of the planter.

Harvesting:

Start picking lemons late September even if the fruits are green. The lemon flavor won't get affected, but they can get juicier. Limes will actually turn yellow when ripe. Don't worry about harvesting every citrus that shows up. Leave them on the tree until you need them. We can harvest basil, blackey beans, fava beans, lima beans, soy beans, yardlong beans, standard cucumbers, eggplant, jicama, melons, mint, okra, peppers, pumpkin, winter and summber squash, sweet potato, tomatillo and watermelon. For flowers, we can harvest anise hyssop, basil blossoms, chicory, chrysanthemum, clover trifolium, common mallow, day lilies, nasturtiums, queen anne's lace, rosemary blossoms, sage blossoms, savory blossoms, sunflower, and zea mays corn shoots.

Mulching:

About two weeks before planting, spread organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure over garden beds. Another mulching option is to plant compatible companion ground covers around the bottom of the big potted plants for a live mulch that can droop over the edges of the planter to add a protective layer around the roots and trunk of the main plant to prepare for the cooler season.

Planting:

In early fall, plant hardy ornamentals, bulbs, and cool-season annuals such as Iceland poppy and petunias. You may begin planting non-frost sensitive trees and shrubs from containers. Soil temperatures are still warm enough to help roots establish quickly. You can put in transplants of tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, onions, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, lettuce (head & leaf). Hold off on transplants of broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower until after the end of September or beginning of October. The temperatures must be consistently below 100°F. Plant impatiens in shady, frost protected area of the garden Plant beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, garlic, lettuce, peas, radishes. Plant in september: calendula, carnation, dianthus, pinks, hollyhocks, nasturtium, pansy, pinks, snapdragon, stocks, sweet William, lemon verbena, viola

Pruning:

When pruning don't ever remove more than 1/4 of the total plant. Always use sharp, sterile, quality pruning tools and disinfect them between cuts to prevent the spread of disease. This is a good time to get inside your citrus trees, trim out the water sprouts and clean out any dead wood. If your tomatoes and peppers are still alive, trim them back to 18 inches.

Sowing:

As temperatures drop below 100 degrees, seeds of cool season crops can be planted. These veggies can be directly seeded in the garden later in the month: beets, celery, carrots, chard, endive, peas, green onions, parsnips, lettuce, snap beans, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, cucumbers, kale, lettuce, leeks, mustard, radishes, spinach, turnips African Daisies, Alyssum, Aster, Bachelor Button, Bells of Ireland, Calendula, California Poppy, Candytuft, Carnation, Clarkia, Delphinium, Forget-Me-Not, Gaillardia, Godetia, Gypsophila, Hollyhocks, Larkspur, Lupines, Nasturnium, Nicotiana, Pansy, Petunia, Phlox, Pinks, Poppy, Salpiglossis, Scabiosa, Shasta Daisy, Snapdragon, Sweet Peas, Sweet Sultan, Sweet William, Verbena, Viola

Sunning:

We certainly don't need to warm anything up for the summer months! However, we can use a solar dehydrator to sun dry some of our recent harvests. If you want the DIY, check out offthegridnews.com.

Shading:

We continue shading peppers and tomatoes to reduce possible sunburn. We can use sunscreens around 50% reduction from now through September. Leave corn, squash, melons, blackeyed peas, okra and grapes out in the sun.

Water:

Continue to deep water on the summer schedule, which is about once a week for shrubs and every two weeks for trees. Water native shrubs every two weeks and native trees once a month. Hose off the rose leaves 1-2 times a week to remove dust, spider mites and potential white flies. Water roses about every three days and apply about five gallons of water to each plant. Don't over water after transplanting trees and shrubs. Too much water can drown and rot the roots. If your using an easy watering solution, such as the Global bucket system, flush out the water, if possible. If you're looking for a self watering system, there are several DIY plans available online. Global buckets started with one design and now hosts several designs for self watering containers. That's all, stop reading! Happy gardening!