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Way too Early for Bananas

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I stepped out into the garden this afternoon and discovered the surprise. My banana plant has opened up the female flowering portion of the plant, the inflorescence. This variety produced a very nice bunch of at least 40 big bananas last SUMMER! This is February FIRST! I am praying that we don’t have one of those February hard freezes that will wipe out the bananas.

On a side note, my bees have been hauling in pollen big way for over a month! The bees have found the banana nectar. Hope they are my bees.

DSC_9884 L

DSC_9882  L

TTFN

Bishop

The Orange Blossom Special

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Not the Johnny Cash version but my backyard version. It is also not a true orange but rather it is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin or common orange, native to China, a Meyer Lemon. Today is January 26th and my tree is blooming.

If you are not familiar with Meyer Lemons, buy a few and enjoy the difference. I saw a phrase recently that said, ” If life gives you Meyer Lemons, life is sweet.” Very true. The scent from the blossoms are truly intoxicating.

Case in point, last week I met with a couple that will be hosting a couple of my beehives. While waiting for the husband to arrive I was offered a glass of iced tea with a slice of lemon. As soon as my nose moved over the glass I knew it was a Meyer Lemon. The scent is sweet and unique!

Once the husband arrived we wandered his garden area to select a good hive site. He has several citrus trees, including a very nice sized Meyer Lemon. His tree was showing buds and we both agreed that it is a bit early. I shared with him my memories of late night motorcycle rides down Sunset Blvd. from UCLA to the beach. The early spring night air was filled filled with a heavenly citrus blossom scent! He keeps a chair in the garden for those early spring evenings to sit and take in the incredible citrus scents! We seem to be kindred spirits!


Even a single blossom sends out and amazing scent! Photo with my iPhone 6S.

TTFN

Bishop

Where is our Winter? 

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Took a tour through the garden today, December 30th. In the northern hemisphere it should be winter! Apparently not! 

Asparagus should be sleeping, not! I found 3 lovely stalks poking up through the cover of leaf mulch. They are so sweet and tender.  

  Those young purple stalks are amazing! 

Tomatoes – the variety that hasn’t succumbed to our “winter” is Matt’s Wild Cherry. Picked a couple of handfuls and noticed that there are still blossoms forming! 

  
  
I thought the green beans were done but I am finding new blossoms. I have a number of very mature pods that I left on the vines for seed but tucked away in the foliage are new blossoms and some developing pods. 

  
My sugar snap peas are behaving as if we have the cool spring weather that they thrive in. It is not a surprise to see them doing well at this time of year. 

  

All photos today from my iPhone. Handy and they do make a decent image. 

Lemons are ready to pick, beets are very slowly gaining ground and the strawberries are blossoming in earnest! The yellow onion sets are looking great. I don’t have high hopes for my blackberries, may have to rely on the wild ones – the wild ones are small, have too many thorns, scratch the heck out your hands but make great jam! 

Last note; my “Garden Hives” are nearly ready. I have put the natural finish on two of the four and then the weather changed. Next week we should be above 60 degrees F, so I can finish the last two. 
Unfinished and then finished. 

  
  
TTFN

Bishop

Backyard Blackberry Honey Pepper Sauce

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This is a sauce that has four ingredients and  75% can be sourced from your backyard. 1. Blackberries, yes I do have blackberry vines in my backyard. 2. L Honey, well I had a hive in my backyard but a neighbor complained and I moved it to a yard nearby. 3. Peppers, I used a poblano pepper from my yard. 4. The tablespoon of sugar – well, it is store bought.

Simple, 16 ounces of blackberries but raspberries would work too. If frozen thaw before cooking.

1/4 to 1/3 cup of local raw honey. I used a 1/4 cup.

Pepper. I used a medium poblano that was from my garden. You can used black pepper, 1 tbsp, or any other peppers depending on your taste and desire for heat.

1 tbsp of sugar

Medium heat and stir often. To speed up the fruit breakdown I use a potato masher.

Run through a strainer once the consistency you want is reached. I am using mine for a pork loin glaze so I will let it thicken. Should also  be good on Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream!

Recipe lifted from;

https://thewisercook.wordpress.com/2015/10/01/blackberry-honey-pepper-sauce/

Simmering on the stove

Simmering on the stove

Added a bit of the pulp and seed back into the sauce for texture. I put it back onto the stove to simmer until it thickened to my liking. The taste and aroma are amazing. I think the pork loin will be a real treat.

TTFN

Bishop

From my Yard to Yours

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Unpacked the 16 box shipment today  that arrived at the front door on Monday…..while I was traveling. In hindsight, I should have given my bride a heads up but…… Lumps look good on my head! UPS was very helpful.

16 boxes of what you are probably wondering! Even if you aren’t, I am going to tell you!!!!! Once opened they represent four,  8-frame garden hives. I will be adding two supers to each once the nectar flow starts.

I am building a couple more top bar hives and several more Langstroth hives over the winter. I will see how I handle that level of activity before stepping out and adding any more for the 2017 season.


Assembled and ready to finish. I am considering a natural finish but also like the idea of some soft pastel colors that blend with the backyard. I have one and possibly two more spoken for and looking for a home for the fourth. Wish my neighbor was not such a Grinch!


One of my top bar hives I set up to receive bees from a downed tree. The rescue was successful! The cone shaped wire screen outlet was pointed toward the hive opening off the open end of the log. Last inspection showed capped brood and eggs being layed. This one and my other top bar were built with “junk” wood lying about my yard. Will build two more full size top bar hives and two half hives for swarm capture or rescue operations.


A 16 inch wide slab of honeycomb from my top bar hive. So yummy!

TTFN

Bishop

Green Beans Anyone? 

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A few days ago I wrote about enjoying late November strawberries. Today, November 29th, I cruised through the the garden and snacked on the only ripe strawberry as I picked a handful of green beans, a pole bean variety that I planted in early fall. They keep blossoming and they keep producing! 

  
In another two days, barring a freeze – not likely- I will have enough to share with my wife… Although, She would rather have Del Monte canned green beans but I will continue to expose her to fresh green beans. Don’t tell her, but I sneak a handful every now and then into the canned green beans….. I do have to overcook  them to disguise them! 

I will have to plant more beets. It seems like every time the seedlings have emerged, still fragile, we get a heavy rain and they get pounded flat! 

  
Poor little guy! They should look more like this! 

  
Replanting tomorrow. Not a bad approach, staggered planting a will spread the harvest out a little more through the spring and early summer. 

PS- the sugar snap peas are about a month away from producing. 

Honey. 

  
This was the remaining comb honey still taking up space in the freezer. We sold about half of the harvest leaving me 9 squares to squeeze. Too bad I waited so long. Between the low honey temperature and the fact that our house is mid 60’s in temperature….. The honey flows very slowly. 

  Dump a square in the pan and mash up with a potato masher. Hands work well but I decided to take a less messy approach……my bride tells me that my less messy approach is still messy! I am guessing almost 4 pounds of honey will be captured. 
  
Sitting in the sieve and waiting and waiting and waiting. It will be at least an overnight weight and if push comes to shove I could crank up the central heat to 70 or more! 

TTFN 

Bishop

All photos from my iPhone

Thanksgiving Day Strawberries

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It is November 27th in the northern hemisphere and I am picking strawberries. Not many but they taste yummy. 

   

  

 Normally I don’t have strawberries until late February or early March here in Houston. I am not complaining – I love ripe strawberries from my garden any time! Fingers crossed that my early spring crop will be abundant! 

I took my sons dog for a run today at the soccer fields nearby. The eastern edge backs up to the woods and has been home to a prolific dewberry patch – wild blackberries. A few days ago while letting the dog run I noticed that the grounds keeper had severely cut back the eastern perimeter and nearly wiped out the blackberries. So, today I carried a bucket, trowel and clippers to the fields. I rescued a dozen root cuttings for my garden. Fingers crossed that they will thrive in a “managed” garden. 

I do love my berries! Jams, preserves and eating them fresh. Next trip to see my mom in Los Osos, CA, I will abscond with some root cuttings from the wild blackberries near her house. They tend to be a bit larger and a bit sweeter than our Texas dewberries. Hmmmm, I really think I need more land! Let’s see what 2016 brings me! 

TTFN

Bishop

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