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Archive for June, 2010

Colorado

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Here again is a grab bag of tips. In some ways I like these posts the best because this is pretty much the state of my brain at any given moment — a jumble of random stuff. Drives me crazy sometimes, but on the other hand it’s always interesting.

Putting a little focus on it, here are some tips on what you should be doing in your summer garden in Southern California in the next few weeks. Next week Mary Beth will provide garden tips for mountain dwellers whose gardens are just coming into their full spring bloom.

Tip #1 — Feed plants each time you water your containers.

These plants are wholly dependent on you for their nourishment so don’t neglect to feed them often during the growing season. Use enough fish emulsion to color the water and your plants will be healthier and your blooms more colorful. (Thanks to locally famous rosarian Bea Grow for this tip.)

Tip #2— Deadhead flowers.

This is one of the garden chores that I really enjoy. Wandering through my garden with a pair of snips and clipping off dead flowers is contemplative and will encourage your plants to create more blooms than they would if left to their own devices.

Tip #3 — Strip diseased leaves.

As you are deadheading, keep an eye out for diseased leaves. Strip them off the plant and throw them away. Doing this will go a long way to preventing a full-blown problem down the road. And while you’re at it, give those plants a good spray from the hose. This will wash off bugs and spores. Doing these two things might be all you need to keep your garden relatively disease free.

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Colorado

California

Good morning!


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Colorado


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This week marks the fourth annual National Pollinator Week. Bees are probably the first thing that come to mind when we think about pollinators, but there are many others that deserve our gratitude and care — hummingbirds, bats, butterflies, and beetles to name a few. I love honeybees best so that’s what I’m going to focus on for today’s tips.

Tip #1 — Bees Need Water

Water is essential for a honeybee colony and if there is no natural source nearby then you should supply it. Bees use water evaporation to cool the hive and for diluting honey to feed to their larvae. A hive can use over a quart of water a day. Think about that — think about how tiny bees are. Now that’s a lot of water hauling!

Supplying your bees with water also keeps them from being a nuisance to your neighbors. In the absence of water you supply, they will use your neighbor’s swimming pools, dog water bowls, leaky water spigots, etc. So give them a water source of their own to keep them happy and healthy.

Make sure the water source is clean, has good footing and provide something they can climb on if they fall in. A bit of straw, small sticks floating on the surface or rocks placed in the water will work.

If you get really ambitious you can make a small pond, a water fountain in a container, or a water garden in a whiskey barrel with a few water plants for the bees to land on to take a drink. I started on my own pond a few weeks ago and will be posting on it soon. I’ve been fascinated with the many kinds of bees and insect drinking from dawn to dusk in the shallows where the water splashes on the rocks. Honeybees will come to the same spot every day to drink, so once you start don’t let the water supply run out.

Tip #2 — Extracting Honey

  • Don’t take uncapped honey. Most of the frame, 7/8, should be capped before you harvest any honey. Unripe honey (uncapped honey) will spoil because of the high water content.
  • Harvest your honey when it’s warm. Honey flows best at 80 degrees.
  • After extracting the honey let it settle a few days to get air bubbles out.
  • Honey is acidic so use stainless steel or glass to store your honey.
  • Save your wax cappings. Drain them of honey and melt them down into a block. Beeswax can be used for making lip balm, polishing furniture, candles, and more. An old sewers trick is to draw thread through a block of beeswax. It makes pulling thread through thick materials so much easier.

Remember, a honeybee colony needs 60 to 90 pounds of honey to survive the winter. If you feel your bees have a surplus then take a frame or two of honey. A medium super will contain 35 to 40 pounds of honey, or 3 – 4 gallons and that should be plenty for you and to share with friends and family.

Tip #3 — Learn Something New

Listen to Organically Managed Beekeeping Methods podcasts. The podcasts are very interesting with great guests speaking about how they manage their own hives and deal with the sometimes complex issues of beekeeping.

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Colorado

California


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Colorado

California

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