Monday, May 7, 2012

The Country Garden Showcase #19

Welcome Friends!
Garden- Well, the weather was really nice over the weekend and I got many things done in the yard though I still haven't planted much in the ground yet.  I plan to do that during Mother's Day weekend.

I separated the last of the tomato starts and now have more than 250 tomato plants...  I can only use about 20 plants and Michelle has space for less than that so I am thinking about having a plant sale next weekend.  I attended a similar ornamental sale last weekend and it was very busy.  That was encouraging.  We'll see.

Chickens- The coop is almost done and our baby girls spent their first night in the big girl house last evening.  Yahoo!  As you can see in the picture below, they've really grown.  

All I have left to do with the coop is cosmetic stuff.  Things like painting everything to match and installing a larger chicken garden and three rail fence.  (We even bought a few apple trees to espalier along the fence) I like the belgian fence espalier style a lot.

The chicks will eventually have the night yard, a day yard/garden, and will free range on the front half of the property too.

For now, they're too small to let loose.  Every barn cat in the neighborhood has been showing up salivating and watching them as they play inside the safety of the night pen.   This is Roo.   One of my Salmon Faverolles.  

Bees- I did inspections yesterday and here are my results:  

Hive #1)  Italian Nuc installed in March.  They are flourishing.  Both deep boxes were built out and filled almost immediately, during the first fruit tree bloom.  They quickly filled the first honey super too during the late fruit tree bloom.  They have a solid brood pattern and every 3 weeks, like clockwork, I enjoy baby bees everywhere.  They are working on a second honey super now.  They are my best foragers.

Hive #2)  New World Carniolans (NWC)- a 3lb. package installed 21 days ago.  As I have read, there is a noticeable difference in productivity/build up between a nuc and a package.  This package of bees are just now filling their second brood box.  I had a scare when I inspected the hive on day ten  and found the queen living comfortably inside her queen cage, refusing to come out and lay eggs.  I called the apiary where I got them from.  The gentleman told me he had never herd of such a thing in more than 35 years of beekeeping.  I prepared for an emergency queen cage move (a last ditch effort to keep her).  The next day, I found her walking around and laying eggs. Whew!  Yesterday marked a week and there are plump larva waiting to be capped.  Yippee!  I think she and her brood may make it afterall...  The NWC honey bees have become steady foragers, though their numbers are a little low yet, they have developed reliable forage patterns and have already capped almost an entire deep of honey, so I am hopeful.  
My new honey bee watering system.  They're spread out throughout the yard.  They seem to like them.
Hive #3) Russian/NWC Cross 4 lb. package installed on Thursday, April 26th.  I did my prescribed ten day check on the queen/per apiary instructions and she's not there...  There's no brood at all, but the bees are happy; not acting excited or showing signs of swarm behavior ie: agitation. mounting hive exterior, not taking in pollen.  They're very good pollen foragers.  I contacted the apiary this morning and they are rushing me a Russian queen priority today... I am crossing my fingers that she arrives in good time, the hive doesn't swarm, and the new queen is accepted.  What a soap opera... hehe.

Miscellaneous activities...  I have my Master Gardener class this evening.  Last Thursday I took a tour of  a fellow homesteaders garden and hen house land she looked at my greenhouse and seed starting system.  I loved her method for growing tomatoes.  She ties them in rows to a 6' tall pea trellis.  No tomato cages to worry about falling over or to mess with at the end of the season.  I may try it.  I am also considering vermiculture.  Amy of Homestead Revival has a great post about getting started and it even features a tutorial for constructing a worm compost bin with a few rubbermaids HERE.  Check it out.  I am not sure whether or not I can add this to my repertoire this season, but I hope to.  That's it from my garden.  What have YOU been up to this week???

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