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Dishin' the dirt from the garden and beyond

A great year to keep honeybees.

If you've been following this blog, you know that this Greengirl was lucky enough to put honeybees in her back yard.  The city passed the ordinance in March and we were granted permission in April.  Normally, that’s a little late to be putting bees in place, but we were determined and excited to have them this year.  

Things went relatively well over summer.  The honeybees flourished in the city.  More flowers, more protection from the weather, and a bit longer pollen-gathering time than up north.  They were gentle and did not disturb anyone in the neighborhood.

All in all if there were any “problem” I would say that we placed them too close to the apple tree.   I would hit my head against the apple branches when we were working on the bees.  

Providing a constant eye on the hives was helpful in learning more about bee-behavior.  We found that they would ‘beard’ more often than we saw in the past.  When bees ‘beard’ they hang out in front of the hive.  It’s like they are all getting a breath of fresh air.  At first it’s a little ominous… about a thousand bees stuck to the outside of the box.  But eventually, they go in and get back to work.  

And, fortunately, we were able to harvest a little bit of honey this year.  That’s unusual for a first year when your main goal is to build up the hive.  So our neighbors will be enjoying a little gift of honey soon and we will be putting covers around the boxes to tuck the girls in for the winter.  

Until Spring, honey bees, beat your wings and keep the queen warm!

Time to take stock in the garden

It's that time of year in the garden: The time where one part of us is so over it, one part of us doesn't want gardening season to end because we know what's coming next, and the rest is just wondering what to do with that bumper crop of lemon balm or whatever is overrunning our garden. It's a good time to reflect on what went well in your garden and where you could improve next year. And it's still not too late to get a jump on next year. So here's my list in three categories, although I could have gone on a lot longer in the things I can do better entry:

3 things that worked well this year

1. Better fencing made rabbits seem much less of a nuisance. I’m almost ready to going back to thinking they’re cute. For once I didn’t need to replant any crops because they’d been mowed down.

2. It was a fantastic year for herbs. I don’t know that I can take credit for this one, since I think the steady rains helped as much as anything. But we had a bumper crop of herbs, with volunteer basil, and rosemary plants several feet high.

3. I managed to plant only one kale plant. For me, this is an accomplishment, since I seem to accidentally wind up with too much nearly every year, with compost bagfuls to harvest in late fall.

3 things I can do better next year

1. Keep squirrels away from my crops. Spending time and money on produce only to see it left shredded around your lawn is no fun.

2. Weed! Oh my.

3.  Repel slugs: Some areas weren’t too badly hit, but my poor hosta ‘Red October’ really took a beating.

3 things I can do right now

1.  Weed! It’s still not too late to do some good if you get weed seed heads out of the garden.

2. Harvest: I’ve still got beans and cherry tomatoes going strong, and except for the basil that doesn’t like cooler weather, the herbs are still in full glory. I so need to figure out what to do with all that lemon balm.

3. Plant: If I want spring blooms next year, or homegrown garlic – and I do – I can still plant both if I get on the stick. Garlic doesn’t need to go in until after the first frost but before the ground freezes solid..

What's on your list of accomplishments and dreams for next year? Got a favorite recipe for using lemon balm?

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