Country Honey

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If you have been following along you will remember that my sweet neighbor filed  a complaint with the HOA about my bees. Some BS about the bees posing a threat. After 18 months in my backyard they suddenly posed a threat. Under protest and a deadline I moved the hive too far away but the location is very nice. The woman hosting the hive is a sweetheart, wants bees and takes good care of them. 

A couple of days ago my wife and I drove north to knock off two tasks. One, meet out son who attends Texas A&M University and two, me running over to the ranch and checking on the bees. My wife did some grocery shopping for Joe while I borrowed his truck to head over to the ranch. 

The hive seems to like it’s new home.  It is in a small fenced area to keep the cattle out and has enough sun under the big oak tree. There is a stock tank for water very close by. Looks like bee heaven. 

I think the site will look better next spring if I can add a few more hives. Two or three here and maybe another two or three across the road on a friends ranch.  I am hoping 6 hives in the area will help make the trips a little more profitable. I pulled the top super from the hive in preparation for winter, shuffled some frames and refreshed the hive beetle traps. The observed numbers of beetles was significantly lower on this trip – I like that! 

Yesterday I extracted honey pulling about 12 pounds or so from the frames. The honey is dark and rich tasting. I will send a couple of jars up to Johnnie at the ranch as payment for hosting and keeping the feeder full. The hive looks well set to make it through the winter. 

Next trip up I will add a resrictor to keep the mice out and slip a thin board under the hive to cut down on the cold air that can enter through the screened bottom board. 



Strawberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, Dewberries and More Strawberries


This has been a banner year in my strawberry patch and it appears to be heading in the right direction for all of my berries. I have made three batches of strawberry jam, have 2/3 of a bag of the frozen ugly berries (I freeze the ugly berries and try to share the pretty ones with my family), snack on them while puttering in the garden and still have some to give away. The very warm and humid Houston growing environment is a real challenge. The moist air and damp ground will rot a berry quickly. One of my regular tasks and one that my wife is good at helping with is to flip the berry up onto the plant leaves keeping them off the ground!

My composting worms are being spoiled with the wonderful spoils. All of the bad berries, berry parts trimmed off the ugly berries and those that went beyond ripe go to the worm bin. If you didn’t already know, worms eat their body weight in scraps every day. What a life, eating your body weight in super sweet, soft and juicy strawberries every single day. This has been going on for a month now and will probably extend for another month. I hope they don’t revolt when their diet changes!

The strawberry plants are so thick that they hide the ripening berries unless you are vigilant at combing through the leaves to find them before the bugs and rot set in! I really love how the plants fill in over time and make a beautiful and edible border to the yard. I did not keep good records on which variety is planted where….over time they run together on their own. I have Chandler which is well suited for the south, Seascape, Sweet Charlie and Sequoia….. Added Alpine Strawberries and the Pine berry, the white colored strawberry….

I have “ June Bearing” and” Everbearing”….I don’t think I have any Day-Neutral  varieties…..yes I do Seascape! The link below is one of the better strawberry info websites I have found for US growers.


Which berries will develop next? Two years ago I saved some wild Dewberries I found in the woods nearby. I planted them in a big pot hoping for the best. Last year the birds robbed the few berries that tried to ripen. This year, for whatever reason, the vines are loaded with blossoms! Finger crossed and I rubbed my lucky rabbit’s foot in hopes of enough dewberries for more than just a garden snack.

Next I should be able to enjoy my Blackberries. I have thornless and thorny blackberries……I said thorny! They are beginning to bud out and a few brave blossoms are popping open. Last year was a disappointing blackberry season, both for me and for the local growers. I will double down on the good luck charms hoping for the Dewberry harvest to mirror the blackberry harvest.

I am hoping for a berry, berry good spring and early summer in the berry patch. FYI, April 2nd and I munched on my first asparagus spear of the season. They are so sweet picking straight from the garden…..do not pass go, just straight into my mouth! Yum!

Gardening gift from my wife.....I am always in the learning mode!

Gardening gift from my wife…..I am always in the learning mode!

Immature Strawberry

Immature Strawberry

I smell jam cooking!!!

I smell jam cooking!!!

Blackberry blossom.....

Blackberry blossom…..

Alpine Strawberry

Alpine Strawberry

Garden Helper - shifting between the brown to green phase.

Garden Helper – shifting between the brown to green phase.

Dewberry Blossom

Dewberry Blossom

He was so hard to spot....I first spotted him jumping from branch to branch.

He was so hard to spot….I first spotted him jumping from branch to branch.



A New Gardening Convert


I am smiling this evening sitting in my hotel room in Covington, Louisiana tonight. My good friend John, the one I have mentioned many times in the past, has become a convert. Now he hasn’t said it out loud but as they say…..actions speak louder than words. A couple of weeks ago he Pismo proofed his garden…Pismo is his tomato eating golden retriever. We both thought the problem was solved… Then there was evidence of a bird attack on the tomatoes… OK let them have a bite or two near where they can perch and the others can ripen… Then came the rodent attack and it was ugly. On my first view they had eaten the inside out of a nice sized Celebrity tomato. They must have put out a dinner call because in two days every single tomato at every stage of development was gone, disappeared, consumed and gnawed off to the stem. They left their telltale calling cards…mouse droppings.

The conversion bug hit John! We talked this past week about traps and such but I didn’t follow through. John did and did so in a big way. First night with the traps he dispatched two of the gnawing, nibbling nemesis of his efforts. Then he went over the top and bird proofed his two 4X4 raised beds. With his recent actions….I am convinced that the conversion is complete. John – welcome to the brotherhood of backyard gardeners and to be politically correct – an honorary sisterhood is bestowed on your wife Beverly for putting up with my tinkering in your back yard – The evidence is posted below in the form of photos sent just hours ago. Wear the mantle proudly!

Look closely lower right. John also warned me – I stop by and pull weeds once in awhile…it might be painful if not careful.

The support structure for the bird netting. Nice job John!




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