Monday, March 26, 2012

Planting Season

  Today is a beautiful and busy day. Especially after my long winter hibernation. The sun has been out all day! In the sun, it feels as if the temp is in the 60's, but it's really only high 50's. The fruit trees are in their various stages of flowering or budding. My willow tree has new baby leaves. The strawberry pants are waking up and coming back to life. Even my berry vines are showing signs of spring!
Willow tree
Bing Cherry
Rainier Cherry Tree


     This morning the boyfriend and I went to the local dirt dealer to pick up a yard of garden soil, and because they had some pallets in the way of the medium grade soil we wanted, we got the upgraded soil for the lower price. We have three raised beds plus our living roof, but I only had enough to fill two beds halfway. It's a good start! And I have enough left over to get some starts done.

    On a sadder note, I'm not sure my honey bees are gonna make it. I cleaned up the frames from their second brood box. I took the plastic foundation out of the really gross frames and set them up foundation versus foundationless every other frame, and collected some propolis off them before putting them back in the box. My hope is to have them build on their own wax and end up with a completely foundationless hive. I got into the hive today and put the second brood box back on top to give them some room, but they don't seem to need the room at the moment. I was shocked to see they were only covering one frame, maybe two. I have a feeling the queen died over the winter. I should have pried some frames out to see if there were any brood, or better yet, to try and find the queen, but since they became aggressive at the end of last season, my fear levels have risen. They didn't seem too aggressive today, but my caution levels are up. If we have nice weather next weekend I'll have the boyfriend help me take a better look. On the good side, they were out and flying today and bringing in some good pollen.

     Now to set up my string outline for doing square foot gardening in the raised beds and to get my starts started and my day will be complete. Then it's off for a well deserved dinner with friends!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring is Here...Almost

View from the spare room. Window needs cleaned!
     Spring is here...or at the very least it's on it's way in. We had our typical false start a few weeks ago. I even caught the bees flying on a particularly warm and sunny day. I was all set to start planting some kale and cabbage seeds on the living roof this weekend. Then it snowed and hailed, and I thought I'd put it off for another week or two. I'm pretty stoked though, as my perennial herbs that I planted late in the season last year have lived through the winter and are currently thriving on the roof. Considering my numerous failed attempts at gardening over the past three years, this is quite the accomplishment for me!
     We finally finished the roof over the new deck this winter. I took the picture today which was the inspiration for this post. I haven't done much in the way of home renovations over the past few months. I think the only thing I did, other than the roof, was add on to the walls of the raised garden beds. One more level to go and they will be to my desired height.

View out the kitchen door. Deck roof is finally done. Look at all those plants on the living roof! And those potted herbs that over-wintered! Catnip, thyme, parsley, and out of the shot: chives.
The bike has been removed and the hive box put back on the hive since this photo.

     Plans for the next four to six weeks:
  • Plant my cabbage and other leafy vegetables on the living roof.
  • Plant the peas in the hanging baskets in the garden
  • Obtain and plant Sweet Alyssum around the cherry trees
  • Get a yard of garden dirt in from the local composting place around the corner and start loading up the raised beds with it
  • Get some planters/buckets ready for my hanging tomato plants

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Autum Update

     Well, my grand plan for writing a weekly, or even monthly, update have fallen through. I'm back, however, and with an amalgamation of updates!

     The bees have been doing well all year. So well, in fact, that we had a swarm in June and still ended up with enough honey for us and some to give away! I'm slightly frustrated with the swarm, though, for the fact that the newly mated queen seems to produce more aggressive workers.

Capped Honey Comb

We don't have an extractor, so we do things the sticky way

Our first yield

Bee's Wax Candles

     Final note on the bees: The girls seem to be on the right path for the winter. We haven't put the entrance reducer on the hive yet, as they seem pretty capable of guarding against mice and such. We tried to put the reducer on one night and both of us got stung in the process. We froze the honey from the super, as it wasn't capped yet, and we'll feed it back to them if they make it to the spring. My hope for the winter is to have a little extra money for a second hive, so we might be able to prevent them from swarming again next year.

     Just a few weeks ago I finally started our cob greenhouse. Don't get too excited yet, though. I haven't come to the cob stage just yet. The boyfriend finished digging the rubble trench and I sifted through the removed dirt and came up with a good amount of gravel to put back into the trench. (Our soil is super rocky here) I still have to collect more rocks for the foundation, but I have a lovely friend who has loads of big rocks she does not need, and I've been scouring craigslist for concrete chunks and more rocks. Here's what we've started so far:

     Last, but not least, this weekend I searched the free craigslist adds yet again and decided to collect a couple free pallets to make some porch furniture with. Here's the result so far:

Porch Swing (w/ friendly, seasonal jack-o-lantern)

     So that's all for now. I'll try to update more often. Cheers, and thanks for reading!

Monday, April 25, 2011

New Bee Hive!

    Just a quick entry to post a pic up of the new hive with it's new residents!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Busy Day...ish

    Well, it feels as though it's been a while since I last wrote, but it's only been a week, and my goal was for a weekly blog, so I suppose I'm on track! I feel a lot has happened in the past week though, and I hope not to leave anything out.
    This week I bought a bleeding heart bush and two clematis vines for the backyard. I also bought some hanging baskets to plant my peas and maybe beans or cucumbers in. I have a Quinault strawberry plant that I had intended for one basket and while at Home Depot I came across Merlin strawberries which have a light to dark pink flower instead of white, so I bought one of them and hope to hang the two plants side by side over the garden. I purchased a couple double shepherd's hook while at Home Depot as well, but unfortunately the weight of my baskets was too much to bare and the shepherd's hook succumbed, bending right over to the ground which pretty much defeats the purpose of having the hanging baskets. I took the shepherd's hooks back the next day. The money from which, indecently, is what I used to buy my bleeding heart and clematis with! Suffice to say I now have two hanging strawberry baskets which are waiting to find a spot to hang from.

Bleeding Heart Bush (Just a baby at the moment)
Two new Clematis vines
    Saturday I FINALLY finished painting my beehive. I think it turned out nice. I'm not convinced about the foliage on the roof section, but I like my vines and tulips on the body. This afternoon I ran to the bee supply store (Not literally of course. I have a car for such things.) and picked up my hat and veil, hive tool, smoker and a packet of wildflower seeds the bees are supposed to like. I forgot to get a feeder for the bees, though I think I may make my own.

Beehive all painted and ready for the bees!
New Bee Keeping hat!

    Today after breakfast we went to Home Depot again for some cinder blocks for under the hive. While there I saw a patio set I just had to have for our deck, sooo we also brought home the three piece patio set.

3 Piece patio set
    As if all these things were not enough, my bf got our old pump working and we now have a running waterfall! All that's left is to trim up the edges of the liner and gather rocks to put around the border. I hope that you can hear the waterfall as well as see it in this video.

    That's it for now. I may have left something out, but I think I hit the important stuff for the week. I'll leave you with a couple photos of our flowering plum tree and our 5 fruit tree's beginning flower buds.


5 fruit tree starting to flower
Flowering plum tree

Monday, March 21, 2011

Straw Bale Garden

First bee of the season. She's hard at work on my crocuses!

    I'm exhausted tonight, so this post will be brief. Today I spent 3 hours checking out the seeds at Home Depot and Fred Meyers before finally committing to a few flowers for the window boxes, and some veggies that I should be able to start while it's still cold out. This weekend was also the weekend that I had planned to buy my new camera, but everyone is sold out of the model I want, so I had to order it online. Hopefully I will have it in a week. That doesn't help me with today's post, though. I didn't get started setting up the beds and planting until about 6.30 this evening so it was dark by the time everything was planted. My phone takes pretty good pictures, but I doubt I'd get much in the dark. I will add pictures to this post tomorrow.
    I also painted the bee hive this evening. I painted that inside in the basement since it's cold and rainy outside, so I could take pictures of that with the phone, but as I stated when I started this entry: I'm exhausted. Once again, I will be adding those pictures tomorrow.

Bee Hive on the day I bought it. Sans paint.

    Well, it is now tomorrow (if that makes sense) and as promised I have the flower beds and garden pictures. I haven't taken any of the hive, 'cause I decided I wanted to paint my flowers on it before I took the pic. So, those are yet to come.

    I wanted to plant my new strawberries and my peas in hanging baskets, but I still need to purchase the burlap and some extra baskets for those. I'll plant those this weekend along with painting the flowers on the beehive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pond Part One

    This past weekend we set to work on finishing our pond. I went out and finally spent the dough to buy a liner from a local business. In return they gave us a 20x20 liner for the price of a 20x19. I'm hoping we'll have enough big excess pieces to cover the Pallet Shed roof, but after laying it out, I don't think we will. The bf had a friend over to help us lay the liner and move a really big rock to our center island. We laid the liner and set the waterfall at the back corner, but it was all wrinkly at one end. I finally convinced the boys to fix this while I held the waterfall out of the way. They held the liner up to keep the wrinkles out and I had the task of fitting the waterfall back in place. Well, I couldn't figure out why it wouldn't settle onto its little shelf.
    I should mention at this point that the waterfall is stationed amongst our bamboo. It's the jungley-tropical part of our pond design. Well, as I think I have mentioned in previous post(s), we cut a large portion of bamboo down one year. The old shoots are about 2 - 3 feet tall. I think you all know where I'm going with this. Wouldn't it just be my luck that we were starting to force a bamboo sized hole through my very expensive new pond liner. I noticed the faux pas while the bamboo was still stretching the plastic, so we're not sure if I managed to put a microscopic leak in it or not. If I'm lucky it may even be above the water line. I certainly hope so, because we most definitely have enough excess liner on the other side of the pond to slide everything over a foot or two therefore raising the potential hole above the waterline, but to do this we would have to drain the now almost full pond, and move that big rock again. Oh and that's not all my friends! I managed to make a duplicate impression on the other side of the waterfall as well. Though I caught that one before it started to turn the plastic from black to gray. Needless to say, moving of the liner will solve both leakage issues, if indeed they do leak.
    At the moment, I'm sticking my head in the sand about the potential leakage problem. Right now I'm wishing for rain. Rain rain and more rain. We have three 55 gallon rain barrels around our house and emptied all three into the pond without making barely a dent. So I left the tap open on the hose from our backyard barrel which collects the rain off of the back half of our roof. Chance of rain for current day: 80%. Chance of rain for the next day: 100%. Chance of rain over our house for a day and a half: 0%. I swear we live in a bubble and it's keeping out all the rain. I talk to my friend in another part of the metro area. She tells me it's raining. I watch the news on the other side of town. Lots of rain falling on the newscaster. I open my back door and look outside...dry as a bone. We did end up having a nice downpour yesterday, but alas, our pond is still not full. I won't use water from the tap. Too wastefull and too spendy. So I sit and wait for rain. It's a big pond. This may take a while...

Looked smaller when it was just dirt.
Starting the looooong task of filling.
Almost Full