Archive for November, 2008

Introducing the Swarm


Extreme sport in the Vegie Garden - Bee Keeping

Extreme sport in the Vegie Garden - Bee Keeping

I’ve always wanted to keep bees.  

I remember reading an old herbal at University that explained that, in order to keep the bees happy, beekeepers would tell their hives all their secrets. Apparently bees always keep the keepers secrets safe.  

A college at work offered to catch a wild swarm for me this spring, if he could find one with a young and gentle queen.  I have been lucky, he found her, and now there is a new white hive at the end of my drive way, under a cluster of rose bushes and apple trees.

 I can stand in the shade at the end of the carport on a sunny day and watch the bees spiral flight as they leave the hive, flying off, right up and over the house.  They are a very calm, humming and gentle swarm.

So far I’ve only watched the bees from a safe distance.  I’ve never been stung though I’ve been told to expect that eventually I will be, gulp!

Tomorrow I’m of into the country to attend my first Bee Keeping workshop, where I will crack open a hive for the first time….if I die in a bee related accident… its been good knowing you all.  Wish me luck.




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Now that we have installed rain tanks I’m taking advantage of the collected water and irrigating the vegetable garden more often than last summer.  Doing the maths – it seems that I need to add 5L of water to each square meter each day (in hot weather on this sandy sandy soil).  This is a big ask for our tanks as they store only enough water for 50 waterings (without more rainfall) the pay off should be a higher yield of food than last year.

I got up early this morning to water the garden.  Checked the seedlings to find that all of the Capsicums had been eaten by another @#$%@# slug.  In desperation I have moved the propagation boxes to the top of the chicken run any slug that can get past the bantam twins deserves a feast.  

I have been using little pots of beer in the propagation boxes as slug traps (know colloquially as Slug Hotels) but I’m beginning to suspect that they were acting more like slug attractors, munching their way through the capsicums on the way to sweet beer death – sounds like a student night on the town.

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One of the best pieces of gardening equipment I have ever purchased is my new ipod.  Before I head out into the garden I download a weeks worth of podcasts and potter away listening to my favorite shows.  My current favorite is ‘Late Night Live’ on Radio National Australia.

The host of LNL, Philip Adams is a joy to listen to, a great mix of current affairs, history, politics, culture and the environment.  I love listening to someone who is clever but gentle and fun with it.

What do other gardeners listen to?

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Sprinkled Basil seeds into pots of dark damp soil, pressed them gently into the dirt.  I thought a lot about pesto and tomato salad and tomato, basil and cream cheese smashed together.  Let’s hope that I’ve planted the seeds soon enough to be ready once the tomatoes are ripe!

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Yet well I ken the banks where Amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye Amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!  Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1825)

Tomorrow I’m going to sow some Amaranth – very exciting as I’ve never grown it before or eaten it. Amaranth is apparently a very easy plant to grow, heat tolerant, with green leaves that can be used in salads or steamed like spinach and then at the end of the season large seed heads of edible grain. 

I’ve read that Amaranth was important in Aztec ceremonies, where images of their gods were made with amaranth mixed with honey – very romantic.  In honor of the Aztecs I will eat chocolate as I plant the seeds in a hot spot in the garden.  Let’s hope it really is a fool proof plant – and that it will bloom for me.

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Late Spring Rains

I have spent this afternoon re-planting tomatillo and bean seeds.  My first crop was savaged by rouge slugs who ignored the offered beer traps, sliming straight for the tender new seedlings. Thankfully rain has finally started to fall after a week of promise without a drop in the rain gauge.  

This first post is a pause from planting.  I hope that late spring rains are falling on your gardens too.

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