February 3, 2017
bananas, Beekeeping, Composting, Gardening, Relationships, Travel, Winter Chill
Oh, I hope it is over! I am long overdue. I have an excuse for the hiatus….actually multiple excuses. It has been a bit of slow times in the garden, Holidays, travel and building/prepping bee equipment that I will claim for my excuses. Let me add the distraction of my Christmas gift, Kitchen Aid mixer for making bread and creamed honey for your consideration! I have more if you want to ask!
January 2nd, my wife and I embarked on an epic 4,125 mile road trip. We got as far north as Billings,MT. Why Billings…… it had something to do with beer, snow and stubbornness! Torrington, WY to see my great grandsons….. and granddaughter. Four days in Breckinridge, CO for a family gathering – skiing, tubing and snowshoeing and family bonding. Albuquerque, NM to visit with my cousin. All in all an interesting trip.
Upon return we witnessed the remnants of the Houston freeze that decimated my bananas and plants, destryed the 14 papaya plants, killed my young lime tree and ruined 3 dozen or so of my Meyer lemons!On the positive side, lots of dead foliage for mulch and compost!
Bees- building more boxes, painting more boxes and experimenting with new semi-transparent stains. My wife gets involved putting her touch, stenciling and stamping bees and other images on the boxes. Teamwork, I do the mindless hammering, painting and staining and she does the creative elements. Works for me!
The blue stain looks gray, the green stain looks very nice and the natural stain always looks good. I am purging white painted boxes and making them yellow! Not quite so boring!
Green medium boxes with the first coat in place.
Kathy has stamped some bee images on the medium boxes now with a second coat.
A mix of natural stain and yellow boxes. You can see some more intricate stenciling from last year’s efforts. Time consuming and probably overkill.
The “blue” gray stained boxes. The black bees show up nicely. Thanks Hun! And yes dear, when I stack the boxes on the hives I will make sure the bee images alternate and not line up, one over the other!
Can’t wait for Spring……and it looks like it might “bee” early!
December 25, 2016
berrries, Composting, Gardening, Healthy Lifestyle, Strawberry, Tomato Growing, Winter Chill
Friends, houston, Merry Christmas, Papaya, texas
It was “77 degrees F” yesterday and I actually worked up a sweat raking leaves to add to the compost bin. It wasn’t too bad….just barely a one T-shirt job. Summer jobs in Houston are typically 3 or more T-shirt changes.
I gathered up the ripening, the dropped and the green Juliet tomatoes. Even covered, the last freeze hit the plant hard.
Well the last freeze has made the Juliet tomato plant look pretty sad. I grabbed this handful, green ones included, as the last of the harvest. Yummy Christmas cookies in the background….my secret recipe. Ask for it…
The freeze didn’t bother the strawberries. They handle it well. If I see temperatures in the teens I will definitely cover them. I added another 100 plants last fall……need to treat my babies well!
December 24th and the strawberries are making their appearance.
The colder weather of last week finally started killing off the asparagus ferns. I will find a nice day next week to cut them back and top dress the asparagus bed.
A tangled mess. I didn’t get to it but I will cut back the asparagus ferns next week and dream of spring spears.
I will make some Meyer Lemon Honey Jam in a week or two and maybe a small batch of lemon curd….so rich and so yummy.
My sad transplanted dwarf Meyer Lemon. I moved it from it’s wine barrel home of 4 years to my garden last spring….hope for better results this next year.
My experimenting will continue into 2017. Mike and Annette, who host one of my hives, have two volunteer papaya trees that bear fruit. Fruit tossed into their compost bin several years ago took off and bear very nice papayas. I saved some of their seeds and put them in a small pot. They are doing well. I will repot and protect the young ones for spring.
Papaya….I have a hive in a yard here in Kingwood that has two papaya trees. I dropped a handful of seeds into this pot and have been rewarded. Now to transplant them.
September 24, 2016
bananas, Beekeeping, Composting, Gardening, Healthy Lifestyle
hyperlocal, Manzano Banana, Papaya, Tara Chapman, Two Hives Honey
Extremely local Papaya and hyper local Manzano bananas.
I had an incredibly fresh and local fruit snack for this afternoon. How local? I should probably label it all hyperlocal but I will differentiate. The papaya is from a few blocks away at Mike and Annette’s yard, also hosts to my very productive 8 frame garden hive. There are two mature Papaya trees growing from their compost bins….the discarded seeds apparently liked the environment, therefore, the Papayas are very, very local. The Manzano bananas are 29 steps from my back door, in my little plot, obviously, very hyperlocal.
Hyperlocal – “”The term hyperlocal has been used in journalistic circles since the late ’80s, but with the changing face of journalism and the development of online media, has now begun to filter into more mainstream use.” http://www.macmillandictionary.com/buzzword/entries/hyperlocal.html
I was going to give Tara Chapman of Two Hives Honey credit for the term “hyperlocal”. She is an Austin, Texas, based beekeeper with a very interesting background. I took her marketing class at the Brenham Beekeepers school. She markets her honey as “hyperlocal” – named for the Austin neighborhood hosting her hives….I market mine by the zip code of the hive….a little larger than hyperlocal. Check out her website.
Lets get back to my snack. A little google search and I had my papaya prep instructions…a first for me. Sliced lengthwise, de-seeded and sliced into strips, carefully removed the skin and then cut into chunks. The banana was cut in half lengthwise and then sliced. A sprinkling of lime juice and chill for a bit. Yum.
The starting point. Yes, the papaya is ripe as are the tasty Manzano bananas.
My next step? Seed saving and growing my own Papayas…..about 29 steps from my back door…..so very hyperlocal.
December 14, 2014
Beekeeping, Composting, Gardening, Memories
bees, compost, strawberry, strawberry jam
Took my little Nikon J1 camera out to the hive in the backyard to enjoy the nice morning, to also savor a good cup of coffee and share some time with the Bees. I could spend hours watching them come and go. I am easily entertained! The is something in bloom nearby that has the workers loading up on a nice yellow colored pollen. They are also draining a quart of sugar water in less than a day and a half. I am hoping to have a nice enough day on Sunday to take a look at the inside workings and to see how well they have recovered since the stormy upset this past summer.
I headed out to the backyard on a very nice and pleasant morning. I made a good cup of coffee and went out to drink coffee with the bees. I love watching them come and go, busy with the chores needing to be done to support the hive. Enjoy the slow motion show captured Saturday morning. Watch early on in the video for the clumsy bee that head butts the hive. Look closely and you will see a few bees with pollen laden legs.
Coming and going….busy little bees
I have the restricted entrance opening now to keep the toads and mice out. They seem to be thriving!
I took my leaf vac/chipper over to the next door neighbor’s yard and picked up several loads of fallen leaves for my garden and compost bins. Another neighbor stopped by with her two year old son….he calls me Mr. Bishop. They followed me over to the garden and I let him pull a carrot up and pick a lemon. Simple things can bring so much joy to little kids. I just love it. Hopefully, making some good memories for both Mom and son.
Strawberries are beginning to heavily bloom and we have seen them ripening…may be a banner year for my strawberries and jam making!
November 8, 2014
Baking, Beekeeping, Composting, Gardening, Strawberry, Vermicoposting
asparagus, compost, compost bin, environmentally friendly, gardening, strawberry towers, vertical growing, worm poop, worms
It has been a long “dry spell”- if you will, a drought for my Gardening Blog. I haven’t stopped gardening but have found/made little time to write about getting my hands dirty in the garden. My beer blog….I seem to find more time to write about my favorite beverages!!!! http://bishopsbeerblog.com/
The garden has slowed down at the end of a long hot summer. All of the tomato plants have been pulled save one. It looks like I may be able to squeeze out a couple more “maters”. The asparagus patch is over head high with ferns and if I peek under the foliage I can still find a few spears to snap off and eat as I work. I shared one with a visitor last week and she couldn’t believe how sweet the spears were! I have carrots coming up, beets have sprouted, the sugar snap peas are climbing, strawberry beds are looking good and my two banana trees have started to dominate their locations……not sure if they will become permanent members because of their size. One of then is a bit unique, a manzano (apple) banana. I have also heard it referred to as a manzanillo….Regardless of the name, I am told that they are very sweet.
Strawberries….I added 50 Chandler plugs and 50 Sweet Charlie plugs on the day before Halloween. I like the ease of planting the plugs I order form Ison’s Nursery. http://www.isons.com/
I used my wood lathe to turn a dibble; From Wikpedia – “A dibber or dibble is a pointed wooden stick for making holes in the ground so that seeds, seedlings or small bulbs can be planted. Dibbers come in a variety of designs including the straight dibber, T-handled dibber, trowel dibber, and L-shaped dibber. ” I found some images on my internet search and I must say….some people can turn some very nice ones….Mine was a quick utilitarian effort….it works and was sized to match the plugs! The strawberry towers are filled and I can’ wait for the February/Spring crop!
Strawberry plugs in the tray from Ison’s
My home made dibble sized for the strawberry plugs.
My beehive is humming along…..sorry about the pun! The mouse guard is in place for the winter and has obviously kept the fat toad out of the hive. My daughter had seen him hanging out near the entrance but I actually found him nestled inside with his head poking out through the entrance….wonder how many he ate! I shooed him away and installed the barrier.
Back to bananas for a moment – The Mexican family that that gave me the corms, also gave me a family tradition for making tamales. They use the banana leaves! They hold the leaf over a gas burner moving it back and forth until it becomes pliable. They then use the banana leaf like you would the corn husk. Here is a pork tamale recipe. I think I will give it a try. Marcelino tells me that they are much more moist than the traditional method. http://www.food.com/recipe/pork-tamales-in-banana-leaves-tamales-con-puerco-381926
PS – while out to dinner last night at the restaurant my wife looked at my hands and shook her head. I know what she was thinking….”you have nice gardening gloves yet you choose to just let your hands get dirty!!!!!!!” I tried, I really did try to scrub everything clean. The problem – I have a fingernail on my right hand that was crushed many years ago and it grows goofy looking creating a dirt trap. So, as she was looking and shaking her head my mind quietly said, “yes dear!!!!!!!”
Paused for a week…..computer issues and then one of my many trips to Williston, North Dakota. Now, about those very dirty hands. I had ignored my composting worms for too long. The drain off the bottom of the bin was plugged up and I knew the bottom tray was probably getting saturated. Oh yes, absolutely full. No problem, I made up a 5 gallon bucket of worm compost tea. I fed the majority of the tea to the newly planted strawberry pugs now thriving in the strawberry towers. My sugar snap peas are starting to climb but appear fragile. I harvested about 4 pounds of worm poop and spot fed the peas as well as giving a good dose to my asparagus ferns. I am very hopeful for a huge asparagus crop next spring.
My wife had the paper shredder fired up taking all of the probable confidential mail to create worm bedding. The identity thieves will certainly have a tougher time putting the stripss back together. I also use the worms to take the ground up eggshells and make some calcium rich fertilizer. Between the worms and my big outdoor compost bins I send very little to the landfill.
Now wash hands thoroughly and make a sandwich with my homemade sourdough bread. Later on today I need to make the sourdough sponge for tomorrow’s baking day!
August 29, 2014
Beekeeping, Composting, Gardening
I was tending to both my bees and my garden this morning. My bees just typically go about their business and I go about my business without conflicts. I am still giving the hive sugar water to help as they continue to grow in size. I noticed that the quart jar in the Boardman Feeder was empty so I gently eased down, removed it, shooed the few bees that had clung to the lid and took it into the house for a refill. A few minutes later I returned, slipped the quart jar into place without event. I always do this without any beekeeping gear, so it was shorts and a t-shirt with my camo Crocs on my feet….the ones that my daughter Lisa hates to see on my feet at the coffee shop or for that matter….anywhere in public. Too bad, I like them and they are comfortable.
Bees just continued to do what they do ignoring me. I spread some pine needle mulch and grass clippings around to help suppress the weeds. My son had mowed our neighbor’s lawn and brought the clippings home. I decided to add that “black”, key word, bag of clippings to the compost bin next to the hive. I grabbed it and swung it up onto the bin’s cross bar to untie it….not even thinking about how the bees would react to this big black object swinging through their air space….
So, a big dark black object coming quickly into their space is seen as a threat. Me, being attached to he black bag was also, apparently seen as a threat…..dark red shirt worn by this dummy in addition to the black bag threat made it doubly bad. Well 8-10 bees tried to encourage me to leave and I just tried to ignore them. Trying to untie the knot must have been see as a aggressive act so, one of the protectors gave up their life and stung the hand that also feeds them…..OK, I get the message. I walked away, used my knife to scrap the stinger out and left them alone for about 15 minutes. I put a dab of cortisone cream on my hand and all was fine.
After 15 minutes I went back out and as usual – they ignored me, I untied the bag and slowly dumped it and finished my chores. I believe I learned a lesson…..I just hope CRS doesn’t kick in and I forget the lesson.
Just doing what they do best…… I just need to make sure that I am not an irritant or look like a bear. Photo from earlier in the year when someone else’s bees were pollinating my lemon tree.
April 17, 2014
Composting, Gardening, Healthy Lifestyle, Vegetables
compost bin, newsprint compost, sheet composting, shredded leaves, Weeds
I just cleaned out my carrot bed – one that I had allowed to be infested with too many weeds. It started innocently enough….the carrots were sprouting and I had made a halfhearted attempt to both thin the carrots and keep the weeds at bay. My work took me away for several weeks while the weather was perfect for the weeds…..I returned to a green mass with carrot tops poking through.
I harvested the carrots and decided to take a low tech approach to fight my “war on weeds”! I took bunch of newspapers and covered the bed about 3 sheets deep, some place a little more….it is a low tech approach so uniformity was not a big concern. My concern was coverage! After the newspaper I added a thick layer of shredded leaves from the bottom of my compost bin. It looks very good now and at least for now, the battle is looking like a victory in the making.
The other beds have been well covered with shredded leaves and are relatively weed free. The covering of leaves help smother the weeds and those that do manage to make it through are leggy and easy to pull. I believe that extra barrier of newspaper will make it even more difficult on the evil weeds.
FYI, the Houston Chronicle uses a water based, non-toxic ink. Non-toxic to readers and the environment. Newsprint will breakdown nicely in the garden as well as in the compost bin…..I use it both places.
Spreading the newsprint…spraying with water to keep it from blowing away!
Newsprint covered with the shredded leaves.
Some of the carrots ….stubby due to my heavy soil but still very tasty!