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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Saturated Color, Succulent Blooms and Garden Scapes

Dwarf Pomegranate Blossom

Saturated Color, Succulent Blooms and Garden Scapes

Despite not doing much in our garden this year, our perennials are doing really well and look quite spectacular.  And when I say this, I'm most specifically thinking of the pomegranate blossoms, which are so saturated in color, it can be quite difficult to make out the details. 

The blossoms have a tough, waxy exterior that split open revealing an impressively fuzzy interior protecting the delicate petals.  These blossoms never cease to impress me because they are pretty strange, as far as blossoms go, and the blossom is just so sopped in color.  

The pomegranate is not the only blossom going on in the garden right now. We also had many orange aloe blossoms that bloomed and passed, and currently have a single yellow aloe blossom stretching towards the sky.  

Aloe barbadensis Miller

Succulent Blooms

We have many aloe plants in our yard, many received as gifts.  I did purchase one, just to be sure it was Aloe barbadensis Miller which has thicker succulent leaves and a yellow blossom.  When I purchased this one, I thought I was getting the 'better' aloe, but as it turns out, it may not be.

Instead, the aloe with the orange blossoms, probably the Aloe arborescens is the best aloe for medicinal use (in case you're interested in the medicial values of aloe).  According to Eattheweeds, since aloe is considered medicinal, is not considered an edible type of aloe.  

For some reason, consumption of the aloe gel is quite popular for many different ailments including digestive issues and inflammation, however there are opposing views of consuming aloe gel as well.

Allium ampeloprasum (leek) scape

Garden Scapes

I love alliums.  Alliums include onion type plants that are commonly used by all cultures as a basic seasoning staple. Currently in our garden, we are growing hardneck garlic, softneck garlic, several types of shallots, green onions, chives and leeks.  We don't grow 'regular' bulb onions because they are relatively inexpensive to purchase.

Of the alliums, hardneck garlic, leeks, onions and shallots produce 'scapes' (Softneck garlics do not produce scapes).  Garlic scapes are well known and quite popular. The lesser known are the scapes grown on the onion-y side of the allium family. All scapes are stems with flower buds.  

Allowing the scapes to blossom diverts energy from the bulb part of the plant to seed production via the flower.  I personally would recommend harvesting SOME scapes, letting others flower.  Then eat SOME flowers (because they are quite delicious too) and then allow some to go to seed for planting in the garden.  The flowers and seeds can have a more potent onion flavor than the plant itself, according to EatTheWeeds. We had previously posted that the green onion flowers were quite tasty, much like the green onions, but packing more heat. 

There is a lot more going on in our yarden right now, but we need to save photos for future posts and this is quite a long blog entry already. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Comb Honey

Bearding Bees March 2016

Harvesting Comb Honey

This mor
An Inside Look At The Top Frame
ning, I caught the bees bearding and dancing outside the entrance of our top frame.  I knew they experienced a population surge from glances underneath, revealing that the comb was across the expanse of available space.

We have made it kind of a policy to leave the bees alone and let them do their thing, but we weren't ready yet for a split so we decided to grab some comb and expand the hive to give them room for a second population explosion.

An Inside Job

We put our suits on, got the smoker started and had a hard time taking photos, but sharing what we have.

We opened up the hive, pulled out three bars with comb and managed not to kill the queen this year. That is some really good news!  Last year, we could not go outside without angry bees chasing after us until a new queen had been reared. It was frustrating. 

Bee Hive Showing Resin And
No Resin On Each Side Of Excluder

Exclusion Failure

We tried to keep the queen away from comb that would be filled by the worker bees with only honey.  None of the workers would draw comb or make honey in the queen-free zone. They seemed to choose splitting from the hive over making simple honey comb.

The good news is there is a market for bee larvae and comb. Reportedly the drone larvae is more nutritious than the worker larvae.  Use of bees and beehive is not limited only to honey production.  

Our Comb
Comb With Capped Honey And Capped Larvae

Since we're setting up comb honey, we placed the comb in zip-lock baggies and put them in the freezer.  We also had comb that appears to be bee-free which was also placed in the freezer for two days. The only reason for doing this is to prevent the larvae from hatching out of the comb, which would probably be unappealing to some.

Bee Free Comb
We can't bring ourselves to eat larvae.  My husband and I don't consume much honey. We have used the wax to make candles, however. The wax is so sticky it's like glue!  We have the beehives for the pollination benefits for our garden, so what honey we get is given away for the most part.

The honey and wax both smell amazing. We live in a high citrus area, and have several citrus trees ourselves, so our honey has a citrus flavor that is wonderful.

After everything is separated and bagged, this is our share of the honey.

Our Share Of Honey Harvest

Harvesting Larvae

Just in case you're interested in the larvae, here's a how to video.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Saffron Crocus Year Two

Crocus sativus, Thymus serpyllum, Monarda

Saffron Crocus Year Two

After the bloom last year, the bulbs were set aside and kind of forgotten about in the planter. One day I looked over and discovered the bulbs started blooming all on their own after an extended drought (by nature of neglect).

Not all bulbs survived, but whatever bulbs I found got stuck into a planter with a tiny Mother of Thyme and Monarda plant, all equally struggling. This was during the frost period in Phoenix - a week maybe? LOL

Anyway, they all seem to be making a come back in the fine spring type weather we are experiencing here. I check every few days to see if we get another flower... not yet... and probably not until next fall. That is quite some time.