Workin’ Outside

Spring                                                                Waning Bee Hiving Moon

The bees buzzed around their new homes while Mark, Kate and I worked in the garden.  Mark cleaned up a bunch of junk that always seemed just a bit too much after finishing up other work.  Place looks less like we’re the poor cousins of the Beverly Hillbillies.  I finished the early spring planting, adding a succession planting of spinach, golden beets and Fordhook kale plus lettuce and Early Blood beets.  Kate did her weed destructor thing clearing out space for transplanting gooseberries.

A good morning’s work.  We ate lunch at the Panda Buffet, a sort of thresher’s breakfast.  Now it’s time for a nap.

Week’s End

Spring                                                          Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

Kate and Annie (her sister) are off to Omaha, Kansas City and various quilt shops in between.  When asked what they do on the bus (she’s done this before), she said, “Talk.”  Me, “No quilt-road-tripsinging, no poker, no beer?”  Nope.

Brother Mark is here, decompressing from a tough six months, and inhaling American culture, “Something there, but being brought forward from far back in the mind.”  He’s not been back to the US in over 20 years.

Today is the first day I’ve had any lengthy time to myself this whole week.  Gonna spend it doing Latin.

The kale and chard starts have germinated; the tomatoes have yet to break the surface.  All this is under the lights.  I’ve not checked the beets, spinach and lettuce planted outside earlier in the week, but they should get started in the not too distant future.

Next weekend the bees should arrive, so there are bee related chores this week:  cleaning frames and hive boxes, moving everything to the orchard, checking the honey supers.  The smoker needs cleaning out, too, a lot of soot collects over the course of a season.  Tomorrow I have advanced bee keeping, open only to those who have kept bees at least a full season or two.

But, since this is Minnesota, first we may have to have some snow.

A Busy Week Ahead

Spring                                              Waxing Bee Hiving Moon

 

Business meeting this am.  Looked at our IRA and Vanguard balances.  Both healthy thanks to good planning and the recent surge in the market.  Theses glances at our assets won’t be as much fun when the market heads south again, as it will.  Right now though they’re cheering.  I read an interesting article on whether it was better to start retirement when the market  was strong or when it was undervalued.  The consensus was that undervalued was better. I can’t recall why, but I imagine it had to do with a feeling of lack followed by a feeling of abundance rather than the reverse.  The latter could lead to too quick a draw-down on accounts, leaving less money near the end of life.  Ah, well.  We’re well under the recommended minimum per year withdrawal from the IRA so far and we plan to keep it that way.

Started three varieties of tomatoes this morning:  Roma, Black Krim and a yellow variety.  At the same time I started kale and chard, one variety each.  They go under the lights now and wait just before the last frost (May 15 or so), kale and chard, and until after the last frost, the tomatoes.  Wetting the potting soil resembles playing with mud, an early childhood memory trip.

We checked calendars.  This week’s a heavy one for me with political, artistic and bee-keeping meetings, plus a birthday dinner out for brother Mark at the Oceanaire.

The Garden in September

Lughnasa                                       Waning Artemis Moon

The onions, red, yellow and white, are in the storage room ready to go on the wooden racks when I have a minute.  The honey, too, is on the bottom row of our shelving unit, collected in canning jars and resting in the boxes that held the canning jars in the store.  Kate’s just put up 7 packages of frozen kale and swiss chard, for use in the dead of winter when greens from the garden seem very special.  She’s also making applesauce from our six apple crop.  I picked them a bit too early for eating.  Chicken breasts and pie dough have been set out to thaw since I will make chicken and leek pot pie later today.  This is a busy time of year, but it is also a fun and satisfying time.

The potato plants have not died back, so they await digging and drying and storage.  The garden of 2010 has begun to wind down.  I still have to plant garlic, mulch a few beds, weed the perennial flower beds and later plant the bulbs, but the number of tasks has begun to dwindle even though the size of some of them make a lot of work still left.

Domestic, Horticultural and Apicultural Matters

Lughnasa                                Full Artemis Moon

Still waiting on the extracting equipment though I imagine it will arrive soon.  Then, setting up the honey house with the extractor and the capping knife and the capping container.  I’ll move some things around, get ready for winter storage of honey supers, put in a solid table for handling supers and frames and foundations.  It’ll be finished when I get the metal sign to hang over the door.

Today found me at Home Depot early picking up a filter for the humidifier attached to the furnace–didn’t know it had one till gas repairman pointed it out–and a refrigerator coil brush.   Turns out refrigerators work more efficiently if their coils get cleaned.  Who knew?  Up the road on Hghwy 10 I went to Anoka Feed and Seed to order another 8 cubic yards of wood chips.  The sky has that late summer blue.  Autumn does not show through the sky and the winds yet, but it will.  It’s already evident in dying plants and woolly caterpillars.

Back home I pulled some carrots, beets, chard and Kale.  I also dug for a couple of new potatoes, but I’m not finding as many potatoes as I found last year.  Hope I just haven’t gone deep enough.  That got my hands good and dirty.

This afternoon I plan to get back to the exercise routine which has seemed too strenuous for the last two weeks while I was sick.  Looking forward to returning to that habit.

Planting During the Full Planting Moon

Beltane                                    Full Planting Moon

Ah, the sweet feel of being in synch with the moon.  I planted Scarlet Nantes carrots and golden beets amongst the green onions and the radicchio.  Threw in a few zinnias for good measure.  Next in the onion bed with storage onions, dill, marigolds and some other flower I can’t recall, I planted more carrots, more golden beets and some Red Russian Kale.  Over in the bed with the Russian sage, some leftover onion and garlic and the bok choy, I planted Swiss Chard, beets vulgaris (I love that), the deep red ones, arugula and flame lettuce.

At that point the direct sun got to me so I retreated to the garage to turn on the zone for the area I had just planted.  The beds seemed dry to me, so I wondered about its time and its arc.  Sure enough, it’s going 360 when I want 180.  That means the veggies only get half of the water they need.  Later on the drip irrigation will provide most of what they need, but now, in drier conditions and with seeds starting over-head watering is the best.  I’ll change the arc when it finishes this round.

The cold also leaves me more exhausted than the work would usually suggest.  Now I’m inside for the siesta time period:  lunch, a nap, perhaps some Latin.  As the evening cools, I’m going to go out and at least dead head the grasses and other weeds that are about to go to seed.  Then I can take them out with a hoe at my leisure.

Queens, Vegetables and Latin

Spring                                         Full Flower Moon

Under the full flower moon I inspected my new colony of bees.  In this instance I checked the frames for larvae.  I couldn’t tell if they were there or not.  This is important because it indicates the presence or absence of a laying queen.  I’ll check again on Saturday.  The queen excluder went into the overwintered colony.  The queen excluder prevents her from moving either up or down in this instance.

On the weekend when I try my first division, I’ll take the hive box with no new larvae (the queen is not there since it takes larvae four days to appear) and put it on a new hive stand and bottom board.  Then, I’ll slow release a new queen.  That is, I’ll put a mini-marshmallow in the end of her cage, suspend the cage between the two central frames and let the queen eat her way out or the worker bees eat their way into her.  This makes her acceptance more likely.

One undignified note.  A bee crawled up my pants leg and stung me on my butt.  Boy did I howl.  Jumped around.  OUCH.

After the bees I spent time in the garden planting dill, basil, marigolds, radicchio, foxglove, spinach, swiss chard, kale, golden and red beets.  A few more bags of composted manure went onto the raised beds, too.

The garden worked preceded a session with my Latin tutor.  He’s good, supportive but demanding.  I like that.  This was not my best week.  I did this work a couple of weeks ago and had not gone over it again, so I sounded somewhat like the village idiot.  Being a good student is important to me, so I promised Greg I would do better next week.  He said, “Be a good boy, you mean?”  Yes, that’s exactly what I meant.  Geez.  Even at 63.

Dinner Straight From the Plant

Summer                        Waxing Green Corn Moon

Dinner with vegetables straight from the garden is a treat and can be a surprise.  It was tonight.  We had potatoes, new potatoes-709042potatoes, dug just before cooking.  They had a distinct flavor, a nutty earthy  tone unfamiliar from the long since harvested potatoes typical of both home and restaurant cooking.  This meal included our garlic, our kale and chard, the potatoes garnished with our flat parsley and a bowl of sugar snap peas as an appetizer.

Digging potatoes involved a spading fork to loosen the soil, then searching around under the earth for these lumpy  treasures.  They grow well in the sandy soil here in Andover.

(pic:  potatoes before harvest)

Kate takes off for the Grand Teton’s tomorrow, a CME conference.  BJ is also out there, playing in the Grand Teton music festival as she has for the last several years.  The Tetons have an incredible beauty, the American Alps, a very young mountain range.  She’s back on Wednesday, then we go to see a micro-surgeon who has perfected the technique for cervical vertebrae.  He’ll evaluate Kate’s candidacy for that surgery.

Lots of weeding today and more tomorrow.  A normal task in late July, early August.