Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Bee Forage. 9.1.15

My Bee Border.  9.1.15

Honeybee Foraging Buckwheat Flowers.  9.1.15
 This is a difficult time for honeybees to find forage.   There isn't a lot blooming in the fields out there.  Some dandelions, wild carrot, and tansy ragwort.  Tansy ragwort has toxicity issues.  The honeybees don't seem to care for the wild carrot and have been ignoring the local dandelions.

While, in bee terms, my gardening efforts are small, they do forage heavily on some plants that I selected for that purpose.

Buckwheat - the foraging is variable.  Sometimes when I look, there are few bees present.   Then I look again an hour later, and the buckwheat flowers are full of bees.  Overall, this plant seems to be very good for honeybee forage.

The Chinese chives flowers are always full of bees.  As a perennial, this plant has good potential for bee forage in a flower border.  I don't know how much it takes to make a difference, but the bees are crazy about it.

There are always some bees on the French marigold flowers.  More on orange flowers than on yellow or brick red.  I am saving seeds from these plants for next year.  I like the yellow and brick red better, but I am saving some from each so the honeybees get some they like too.

Borage continues to bloom and honeybees continue to forage it.  This is the 3rd wave, from volunteer plants.

Pink Sedum is in full bloom.  Each flower head is busy with multiple honeybees.

All of these plants make an attractive front flower border.  The annuals and perennials make a nice mixture.  The perennials can be divided for more plants next year. and in the case of the Chinese chives, both divided and seeds saved.  I have cut dried flower heads from those, saving in a paper bag to dry more thoroughly.  I am saving seeds from the annual French marigolds.  I might from the borage as well. So next year, this bee border will be zero cost, and little effort.  I don't  have buckwheat in the border.  The garden rol of buckwheat is to build soil and potentially provide some grain.  However, a few buckwheat plants would also be attractive in a flower border.

Honeybees Foraging Chinese Chives Flowers.  9.1.15

Honeybees Foraging Chinese Chives Flowers.  9.1.15

Native Bee Foraging Marigold Flower.  9.1.15

Honeybee Foraging Chinese Chives Flowers.  9.1.15

Honeybees Foraging Sedum Flowers.  9.1.15

Buckwheat Stand.   About one month after sowing.  9.1.15
Honeybee on Marigold Flower.  9.1.15

Kitchen Garden. 9.1.15

Part of Kitchen Garden.  9.1.15
Kitchen Garden, ready for fall more or less.

I finished the first of two new raised beds for Chinese chives.  Those are reused cinder blocks.  Very easy.  I can add one or two or three...  blocks and call it a day.  Then the next day, or next week, add some more.  Soon enough, they are all in place.  The soil mix is mainly decomposed sod, molehills, and well aged chicken house compost, all from this yard.

I planted the first of the chive beds.   These are mainly from the prior one.  They needed refreshed soil, and needed dividing to regenerate the clumps.  Some were from a container that we sprouted last year in the sunroom, then had in the yard waiting to be replanted.  Some are volunteer from other raised beds.

I feel better, with all of beds either in use for producing something, or with cover crop for regenerating the soil and feeding the honeybees.
New Chinese Chive Raised Bed.  9.1.15
Kitchen Garden.  9.1.15
Its not Martha Stewart, but good enough. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fall Gardening in Kitchen Garden. 8.30.15

Garlic for planting.  8.30.15
 It may be early, but I planted the first of the garlic today.  These are cloves from this year.

Instead of 8 per row, they are 6 per row.  Instead of 10 rows, there are 8.  I did that to give them more room.

It might be too early.  Last year I planted late and they did not get in much growth before the first freeze.  I can plant more in a few weeks.

This bed has the following rotation:
First Garlic Planting.  8.30.15

2013: strawberries
2014: strawberries.
2015: beans
2015: now, garlic.

I used the largest garlic heads.

I also cleaned up the 1/2 of an 8x8 bed that had E.W. Onions.  That got topped of with some yard soil and planted with buckwheat for green manure.

I started the 4x4 cinderblock bed that I have been gradually building, for replenishing the Chinese Chives.   Will progressively replant them into this bed over the next few weeks.  The soil is enriched with aged chicken compost, and a sprinkling of Epson salts and lime.  Prior testing showed my soil is acidic, and a bit low in calcium and magnesium.  I mixed the additives into the soil and watered to get it ready.

Kitchen Garden Harvests. 8.30.15

Asian Pears.  8.30.15

Tomotoes and Peppers.  8.30.15
 Today I picked the first of the Asian pears.  The European pears were all bad, complete bust.  I can never figure out when to harvest them.  Asian pears are much easier.  These are Hosui, Shinseiki, and an unknown.

More veggies from the garden.

Some Daylilies.  These must be the last.  Stella de Oro is a champion bloomer.
Daylilies.  8.30.15

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Kitchen Garden. 8.23.15

Late beans.  8.23.15

Onion Wells.  8.23.15
Beans growing ok.

Added well aged chicken compost to barrels, and more of the EWO scallion starts into those.

Tomatos, getting an excellent crop this year.  More than we can eat.  Time for some more salsa.
Tomato Cage.  8.23.15

First Main Crop Figs. 8.29.15

Smith Figs.  8.29.15

Hardy Chicago Figs.  8.29.15
 First of the main crop figs.  Main crop is the fall crop.  Rained last night, no splits this time.

Smith - in container.  There was one fig last week.  This one was broken from the rain, so I harvested it.  Excellent flavor even though not quite ripe.  The others will be left on a few more days.

Hardy Chicago - in ground.  Usually the first of main crop figs for me.  I was just going to pick one, but kept finding more. I pruned heavily this winter, to keep branching low.  Probably no loss of crop, since the brebas always fall off for my tree.

Not shown until I get to Battleground today - Sal's, while small, has several ripening figs.

Edit:   Added photos of Sal's figs and comparison with Hardy Chicago.  Maybe the Sal's were not quite as ripe.  I thought the Hardy Chicago had more flavor, sweeter, juicier.  But if not for tasting them side by side. I would have liked the Sal's very much.
Hardy Chicago Figs.  8.29.15

Hardy Chicago Fig Tree.  8.29.15
Sal's  Figs and Hardy Chicago Figs.  8.29.15

Sal's Figs on tree.  8.29.15

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Toka Plums. 8.23.15

Toka Plums.  8.23.15

Fully ripe, my Toka plums tend to fall off the tree with the slightest movement. I missed some, on the ground. These are incredibly sweet and juice, like honey on apricots. Wow.

Dividing a Daylily. Daylily seeds. 8.23.15

NOID Daylily before division.  8.23.15

Out of the ground.  There are 2 main clumps.  8.23.15
Today I divided my oldest daylily cluster.  Last year I moved this bunch from the old Vancouver yard to the Battleground yard.  I was anxious to get it intothe ground, so did not divide it.  There was grass growing deep into the cluster, which has been difficult to pull out.

It needed dividing.  There were only 2 flower scapes this year.  In the past, it had many.  It has been done blooming for a few weeks.

I wanted it to be in a more prominent location.  I am limited on good spots, so part of it went back into the original location, but with fresh garden soil.

Digging it up, two main sub-clumps were apparent.  I used shovel to slice through.  Some gardeners use 2 garden forks and pry them apart.  That results in less root loss.  I don't think that will be a problem.  I don't have 2 garden forks.

Two smaller divisions fell off when I split the big clumps.  So I have 2 good size, and 2 starter size clumps.

They are replanted, mulched, and watered.  One of the small ones is in container for TLC and maybe gift.

The Stella de'Oro was divided, I think, in Mid July.  Both halves regenerated new leaves and bloomed.  Very nice, and one of only three daylilies now blooming.  Happy Returns is also blooming.

The other was labeled as the variety "Frans Hals".  It looks semi-similar to the photo.  Either a mutant, possibly due to improper tissue culture technique, or a seedling.  I liked this photo with a bug in the nectar pocket.  I  cross pollinated the "not quite Frans Hals" with both Stella and Happy, both as pollen donor and recipient.
Split using shovel and hand action.  8.23.15

One of the replanted clumps.  8.23.15

Stella de'Oro divided in July.  8.23.15

Daylily labeled as "Frans Hals".  8.23.15
Daylily Seedpod.  Pod Parent Chicago Apache.  8.23.15
The first of the Chicago Apache seedpods started to split, so I picked it.  The stem is brown and dry, so the seeds will obtain no more nutrition from the plant.  The seeds are black and shiny, so I think they are fully ripe.

Pollen parent is either Chicago Apache or Fooled Me.  Doesn't matter, I'm not a commercial grower, and won't be.

These went into a wet paper towel / plastic zipper bag / refrigerator, for stratifying. 

I wondered what I would do with all of  the seeds from the hybridizing efforts.  This pod made only 4 seeds, so maybe I won't have too many.

I don't need a lot.  I just kept dobbing pollen to pistils to see what happened.
Daylily Seeds.  Pod Parent Chicago Apache.  8.23.15

Bee Forage. 8.23.15

Buckwheat in bloom.  8.23.5

Honebee on buckwheat flower.  8.23.15
 Buckwheat is in full bloom.  I planted the buckwheat seeds 7.21.15 to 7.23.15.  They started blooming, barely, one week ago.  So it takes about 3 weeks to begin blooming, and 4 weeks to be in full bloom.

Yesterday I did not see bees foraging the buckwheat.  Today they are foraging in force.

I replanted some bare patches where I must not have spread the seeds evenly, today.  I also planted buckwheat seed among the cornstalks, where I harvested that last of the sweetcorn today.

Other bee forage:

Very active on Chinese Chive, compact version.
Autumn Joy - type Sedum starting to bloom and activity is growing.
Active on  the remaining borage and oregano.
Honeybee on Buckwheat Flower.  8.23.15
Honeybees on Sedum flowers.  8.23.15

Honeybees Foraging Sedum Flowers.  8.23.15

Cluster of Autum Joy - Type Sedum, Starting to Bloom.  8.23.15
The sedum flowers are just beginning to open.  Sedum is a bee favorite - they will be foraging with many bees per flower cluster, until the plant is finished blooming.

I'm impressed with how long the oregano blooms and is foraged.  It looks almost done, but the bees appear to seek out every last flower.  When they are done, I want to save seeds for starting a much larger patch next year.
Honeybee on Oregano.  8.23.15

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Late Summer Kitchen Garden. Starting Seeds. Barrels. 8.26.15

Barrel #1.  Asian Greens, Kohlrabi, Bunching Onions.  8.26.15
 This is a progress report on some of the seeds I am starting for later Summer, or early Fall starts, for Fall and early winter benefit.  These are all barrel planters that I either had with something earlier that finished, or had left alone for a year or two and now being called back into service.   If there were weeds, I pulled out the weed plants - easy with soft potting soil, then turned the top layer of soil with a hand-spade, and added a top layer of a few inches of potting soil.  The one with the dead bamboo, was too root bound, so I just added some potting soil on top.
Barrel #3.  Chinese pole beans and last year's garlic.  8.26.15

Barrel #4.  Roma beans, Turnips, and a few E.W.O. Scallions.  8.26.15
 I want the beans mostly for seeds.  Seeds take longer than fresh beans, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

This year is projected for a warmer winter due to the impending el Niño effect.  I speculate that will extend the season.  If not, that's OK too.

Days currently in 90s.  Nights in 50s and 60s.  Seeds are germinating quickly.  The barrels need daily water.  The plants are concentrated in small spaces, so shade the soil and not needing as much care as if in the ground.  I am watering with 1/4 tsp miracle grow in 2 gallons of water.  Basically fertigating.  For some, I occasionally peecycle with 1/2 liter of home-grown fertilizer in 2 gallons.  Not more, because I don't want salt build up.

I'm getting excellent, rapid growth for Egyptian walking onionsnasturtiums, and Swiss chard.  Should have some for cooking in 2 or 3 weeks.  Spinach might also be ready in 3 or 4 weeks.  The nasturtiums are for adding leaves too salads.  The E.W. onions are for scallions, and to maintain my crop.  I got about 80% viable from the ones that were in the bed I wanted to renovate, chewed off by rabbits or deer, crowded by wild carrot, and left dry.  E.W. Onions are a damn hardy breed.

As I dig more into the old E.W. bed that I want to renovate, I remove more, clean them up, and plant them in random spots among other plants.  That will give a more extended Fall harvest of scallions, and also some to leave through the winter for Spring harvest and to maintain the clone.

Barrel #6.  Nasturtiums, Spinach, and some E.W.O. Scallions.  8.26.15
Today I planted seeds for Kohlrabi - expect harvest in 60 days, and Turnip - expect harvest in 50 days.  With the hot summer weather, they should get a fast start, then slow down a little as it cools.
Barrel #7.  Egyptian Walking Onions.  ~3 Weeks,  8.26.15
Some of the seeds I am starting.  8.26.15
I also planted an Asian Greens mix that contains equal parts Arugula, Chinese cabbage, Japanese spinach, mustard-mizuna, mustard-green, mustard-Ruby Streaks, and tatsoi. Those were planted about one week ago and now are all germinated.  Cilantro seeds are also included in the barrel gardens, and growing.  The goal with those is to plant a few more each week, for extended harvests.

I planted scarlet bunching onion seeds because I saw them in the store and wanted to try something different.  At the time I didn't know if the E.W. onions would grow.  The scarlet bunching onion seeds are also germinating.

All in all, I think the late summer planting in large containers, has a lot of potential for kitchen gardening.  Easy, more accessible for the older or less vigorous gardeners, and grow more in a very compact space.   Not much bending over at all, very easy to pull out tiny weeds and putter.