Adventures in Beekeeping – Chapter the First

new hiveAaaaand – the adventure begins to borrow a phrase. This was delivered yesterday. Brand spanking new bee house. Look closely, it’ll never look this pristine again. I’m not “getting into” bees because I’m all that interested in bees per se, but because I’m more interested in what the bees can do for me (pollinate the veggie and fruit garden) and because it appears that the country – and perhaps the world – has put all their eggs into one basket by depending so heavily on crops that also depend on, mostly, one species of pollinator, that of the European Honey Bee, Apis mellifera. There are other pollinators out there, but not in the numbers needed for so much of the monoculture farming that is the normal (there’s a misnomer if ever there was one,) method of crop production these days. And now the honey bees are apparently threatened on all fronts, disease, parasites, malnutrition. The diversified crops and extensive wildflowers that the bees need for proper nutrition are a mere shadow of their former selves, and without proper nutrition this beneficial insect falls prey to all sorts of parasites and diseases that ordinarily they could shrug off.

So, I’m just trying to do my bit.

And maybe get some honey into the bargain.

First starts in the ground.

2013-02-20 11.50.41I suppose this is the “real” beginning of the gardening season then. I got the first plants into the garden proper, the broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, and the cabbages. I came up one cabbage short due to losing so many seedlings to damping off, but everything else came out just right with no leftovers. That can be a good thing, there’s no waste; or a bad thing, if I lose any of the plants there’s nothing to replace them with unless I buy some at a garden center. I didn’t do a whole lot to prep the bed; when push comes to shove at this point they really don’t need much. I spread 4 bags of mushroom compost over the top, and mixed in some 10-10-10. I thought about putting in organic fertilizer, but it has blood meal as one of its components I believe and I do not want critters digging up my freshly planted brassicas. They might do it anyway of course, but there’s no sense in asking for trouble.

2013-02-20 11.50.36Although the t-tape drip irrigation system is down,  as wet as it’s been the last couple of months, it’ll be some time before there’s any necessity for additional watering, especially in these raised beds which are really glorified potting soil that hold the moisture quite well. A for instance is the thyme which I planted last year and which did not do very well. Come to find out it actually prefers things a bit drier so that I think it was just too damp for it getting watered every day. This year I may leave the herb bed drip irrigation cut off and just water the individual plants so that I can tailor the watering needs to the individual plants rather than using a blanket method. We’ve gotten notification from Stark Bros that the peach trees have shipped. There are three holes dug, only three more to do, and the trees can just be popped in the ground. So that will be done by this time next week I hope.