Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer Flowers

It is the end of May and time for the pansies to be retired as hotter weather sets in.

These are the beauties I carefully handpicked to use.  I told Andy it's like I'm painting with flowers.

I have some pots that will take lots of soil for just a plant or two.  So I first put crumpled up plastic pots in the bottom to take up space but still leave room for more than enough soil.

Monday, May 27, 2013


I pulled the rest of the radishes.  I am not very good at pulling radishes on time and they become quite hot because of it.  Many of my radishes never formed the root part so I mainly harvested a bunch of radish greens.  But the exciting part is that I harvested some lettuce.  We are actually have some success with lettuce this year compared to the past few years.

Garden Work

A good amount of work has been going on in the garden.  Tomato cages, stakes and soaker hoses have been put in.  I am working on supports for the cucumbers.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

In Bloom

The peonies are in bloom and I have a beautiful, big, frilly bouquet in the house.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tomato Blossoms

Most of our tomatoes have blossoms by now and a few are about to set fruit.  The only two that don't have blossoms yet are Cherokee Purple and Black Krim (which does have some buds about to open up).  The first couple of tomatoes are always very exciting!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Empty Queen Cage

 Today I went back in the hive to retrieve the queen cage.  I was happy to find an empty queen cage which means she was successfully released.  I also saw lots of bees carrying in pollen so I know she is in there and ready to lay eggs.

 While I had the hive open I figured I should poke around and make sure everything looks good.

 The bees are starting to draw out comb as you can see on this frame and the ones below.  Brand new wax is so white and pretty.  It's interesting to see which frames they are building out and which they have left alone.  Despite being added into the bottom box they are building out the top box first.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Long Live The Queen

Meet our new queen.  I jokingly mentioned that she could be from Africa since she is so much darker than our other queens.  We have named our past queens and we still needed to name this one.  My sister thought it would be funny based on my comment if we gave her an African name since our last two have had proper English queen names.  Andy thought this was a great idea and somehow I got roped into letting him name her.  So meet Queen Tigress Euphrates, yes, that really is her name.

When installing the queen you normally take off the cork on one end of the cage to expose the sugar candy so that the bees will eat through the candy and release her within the hive.  This queen cage did not have sugar candy and I wasn't about to release her to fly off into the unknown.  So I installed the bees and her queen cage how I know how to without removing the cork.

I then called a beekeeper who I picked up the bees from to ask about what I should do.  He suggested that I remove the cork, quickly cover the hole with my finger and then shove a mini marshmallow in to act like the sugar candy would.  So Sunday I went back into the hive to do this.  Hopefully it works I will find out tomorrow when I got back in to retrieve the queen cage.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

California Ladies

Our bees arrived today after their long trip from California.  This year we decided to try Carniolan bees from California instead of the Italian bees out of Georgia that we have had the past few years.

The type of bee to get is a personal choice.  Carniolan bees supposedly overwinter better because they will slow down on rearing brood when the honey flow slows down.  This means they don't have a large, hungry population to feed all winter.  But this means they don't make as much honey and I have heard they propolis like crazy.  There are plus and minuses for both types of honey bee.  For us our bees have died the past two winters and we figured we wanted to try something different.
 This lady rode along side me on the way home.

 The queen is almost black which was surprising since the Italian queens are very light colored.

 Shaking the bees out causes a lot of them to become airborne.

 The hive looks so little with just two supers.

Friday, May 10, 2013

This Year's Tomatoes

I'll be the first to admit I have a problem!  A tomato problem.  I love tomato plants and become blinded by the enticing possibilities every spring.  I have room for ten plants and the past two years I have found a way to squeeze in an eleventh.  Although what I really want to do is buy at least 15-20.  Our next home is not going to be picked out by square footage or kitchen upgrades but by tomato growing possibilities.

When browsing the tomatoes at the nursery and reading the tags I get excited about all the different types.  I want to buy all my favorites and then try a few, or a lot, of new types.  Who could blame me when there are an endless array of colors and sizes these days?  One that I had to pass up had almost jet black skin with rosy pink insides like a plum.  It looked gorgeous but it ended up not making the cut.  Here is a list of tomatoes I did pick and why.

Giant Belgium - I actually bought two of these because the plant is bred specifically for the Ohio region and it did splendidly in my garden last year.

Black Krim - Two years in a row this tomato has been a work horse in my garden and I love it's purple color.

Cherokee Purple - I grew this once a few years ago and it did poorly.  Everyone raves about it so I thought I would give it another try and grow it side by side to the Black Krim so that in future years I will go with the more successful plant.

Brandywine Red - This heirloom is the Porsche of tomatoes.  Although I will say while they're good I don't know if they are worth all the hype.  Depending on it's success this year it might not make the cut next year.

Orange Wellington - I wanted another option with color other than red and purple.  This tomato is more of a mid year variety, is supposed to be prolific and of good size.

Super Sauce - This is supposed to be the largest sauce tomato.  Since I want to have an excess of tomatoes to can I thought it would be a good one to try.

Arkansas Traveler - I had one year where this plant went gang busters for me and another where it did just ok.  I believe the third time will be the tie breaker.  This plant does well in the heat, resists cracking and is the perfect size for a canning jar.

Rutgers - Everyone out there raves about this plant's reliability and I thought I would give it a chance to compare next to the Arkansas Traveler.

Fourth of July - This is a very early tomato, only taking 49 days to reach maturity.  I want to test it and see if it produces tomatoes nice and early before the Fourth of July like it claims.

Husky Red Cherry - The cherry tomato plants I have gotten in the past grow like weeds and become unruly quickly.  This is a dwarf indeterminate so it does not get taller than 5 feet but continues to produce all season like a regular indeterminate.  Because of it's smaller size I was able to put all the others in my solanaceae bed and tuck this one into a different corner of the garden.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Last weekend I planted most of the garden.  Bush beans, zuchinni, summer squash and cucumber seeds were planted.  I filled in the zinnia and cosmo seeds that did not come in.  I decided to plant the pitiful asparagus bed with flowers while leaving the asparagus and we will just see what happens next year.  

I also planted all of the tomato and eggplant seedlings.  It finally feels like summer is on its way!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Mulch Day

Our weekends have been flying by.  Between catching up on chores and other obligations we just never seem to have enough time for the projects we want to tackle.  So I took a personal day on Tuesday and roped my Dad into coming down to visit me to help out with mulch day.  

We spent longer than I thought we would.  But that's because we removed some plants, planted a few new ones and the big project was changing the size of some of the mulch beds and cleaning up the edging lines.  Thankfully I had help and was able to accomplish all of it in a day!

I am always sore the day after but I always love the way fresh mulch brightens up the yard!

This bed used to end at the edge of the rock but we deepened it by a good 6 inches to give the bushes more room to grow out and to make it easier to mow around.  There was also a Golden Mop Cypress that I replaced with a Peach Flambe Coral Bells.  The Mop was too large for the spot and needed constant pruning so it would not block the hydrangea.  I like the Coral Bell much better, it provides nice color, stays low and once it grows in a bit will fill the space nicely.

 We pulled another Golden Mop Cypress out on this side and replaced it with the same type of Coral Bells.

 All of these beds were widened and evened up.

 I made room for a miniature rose plant that we were given this spring when Andy's Grandma passed.

And of course the veggie garden got a thin layer just to freshen everything up.