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A Morning in the Garden

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Nice, nice morning here in Kingwood on this 18th day of April and crazy, approaching 4 weeks of social distancing! It was a beautiful cool, at least for my neck of the woods, 62 degrees F today. I know the warm weather is coming as I wandering out into the garden this morning but enjoying the respite however brief. I gathered a rather large handful of sugar snap peas. They usually don’t last long…..I rinse them off and snack on them all day long. So crunchy and yes, sweet

These won’t last but 8 or 10 I pulled in the garden that didn’t make the trip into the kitchen. LOL

Tomatoes are beginning to form and we should be seeing them ripen within the week. Nothing tastes better than vine ripe tomatoes picked at the perfect time. These are not like the ones that I worked with in the produce warehouse back in Bakersfield years ago. We would unload boxes of “breakers”, tomatoes that are mostly green, shoulders pink and hard like baseballs. We stacked then in a special room that could be sealed and with controlled temperature & humidity settings. We would seal the room and pump in ethylene gas to “ripen” them. 3 days later they were all beautifully red and still baseball hard…….now you know!

Sweet million cherry tomatoes
Juliet, a small Roma shaped tomato that is very heat tolerant
Patio tomatoes for my wife, in a pot and yes, on the patio. They do well until it gets too hot. Four inches or so in size and very tasty. They will be on BLT’s with my tasty toasted sourdough bread soon!

Just wanted to add an update on the “bottom ends” of Romaine lettuce I plunked down into the soil in my garden. They sprouted well, I snacked on some of the leaves early on but now……..they have bolted, shot up, and beginning to display flower heads and the leaves are slightly bitter. Why do they bolt? I always thought it was the warmer weather but it appears that length of day is the primary factor. If I was really energetic and had nothing else to do, I should have limited then to no more than 8 hours or so of sunlight per day……..I may need to give it a try in the future.

Not your typical Romaine lettuce…..leaves are still edible but a bit stunted and turning bitter. I will maybe……..experiment next year or at the end of summer….

During the Spring of 2019 I planted two Muscadine grape plants. One died and the other thrived. I trained the vines to grow out in two direction. One went horizontally along a wire stretched out across my back fence. The other direction heads over to a wooden arch structure, similar to a small grape arbor. Last year there was no evidence of fruit. My unknown is whether the variety I bought needs a pollinator variety. I am crossing my fingers…….Muscadines grow wild in the are and a similar grape, Mustang grapes, which are similar, are also nearby. There is evidence of potential fruit all up and down this year’s vines!

Little teeny tiny beginnings of Muscadine grapes. I am hopeful……I want to make some jelly and maybe some wine.

My son is moving at the end of the month and has made me proud. He established two very good sized compost bins in his backyard. He has a lot of yard to mow and he has been amazed how quickly the clippings decompose and shrink. I spent some time pretty much emptying one bin last night, probably 14 good sized leaf bags full. I shouldn’t say full. Once I skimmed the newer layer- mostly leaves and grass, the bottom layer was dense and heavy……….so, small but heavier loads in those bags. If the weather holds I will return today and pull the contents of bin number 2.

TTFN

Bishop

End of the Week

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It has been a busy week. The bees have occupied some of my time, weeds too much of my time, lovely carrots so sweet when roasted, removing the fading sugar snap peas…..replaced with English Cukes & Straight 8 cucumbers, two loaves of sourdough bread just pulled from the oven moments ago…….fortunately we are  not web-camming as the drool drips from the corners of my mouth, trimming back banana plants to maximize production, making strawberry jam, yard cleaning/kitchen table office cleaning……sister-in-law arriving this evening…..I am already tired and ready for my nap.

The bees, the queen and brood going back into the original top-bar hive over the weekend seems to have gone very well. The companion Langstroth hive is filling with honey!!!!!! Yee Haw! I am also helping the property owner get his garden up and going, feeding his chickens, harvesting eggs and mowing his grass. The things a beekeeper will do to for the host!

The split in Splendora on the “Cowboy” hive failed…..I feel guilty, as it was my mismanagement that lead to the failure. The only saving grace is another lesson learned to add to my prior mistakes. The remaining hive out there is doing well but may have earned a re-queening this coming fall. They are a bit defensive…..yes another one popped me in the face….on the nose.

Strawberry Jam. My “Goo” friend John’s daughter gives me the ultimate compliment for my strawberry jam – when she runs out of mine she falls back to “Smuckers”, she says mine is sooooo much better than store bought…..According to Brittany. I am a fan of the low sugar recipe from Sure-Jell light. Seems to let the taste of the berries shine through. I use Sure- Jell light for all my berry jams!

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The jam, cooked, ready to skim the foam prior to canning. The foam does not go to waste, my wife uses it on her egg-white/oatmeal frittatas.

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Six half pint jars and 3 – 45 ml jars for fun and gifts.

I have to share more about my carrots. As I have mentioned before, my soil has lots of clay but the adding of compost for four years has improved the soil, somewhat. I plant varieties that are shorter, stockier and tolerate the heavy soil better. Well, either a seed mix up or a rogue carrot in my patch. This guy was pretty hefty!

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Frame of reference – I have to order XXL beekeeper gloves and would love to find some XXXL gloves.

Just had to add a bee picture.

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There she is….tucking some pollen away. The symmetry is almost mind-blowing! I just marvel at what nature can accomplish.

Now, butter, knife, warm bread and some strawberry jam. Next slice, butter, knife, warm bread and honey.  Next slice, butter, knife and warm bread! Why can’t I lose any weight??????

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Proofed for 28 hours…..the sourdough flavor is outstanding!

TTFN

Bishop

 

 

Worms at Work

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It is not as gross as you think. My wife has 3 cats and some squirrels that hang out in the backyard, I have my worms. They are my "pets" if you will…. I feed them, house them and look after their welfare. Isn't that what pet owners do? They aren't much fun but they seem to be on the job 24/7. Every time I check on them and feed them they seem to be busy.


Here is the Rubbermaid bin… probably a little large . I did a little web surfing and hit on this link that looked like an inexpensive way to start raising my little friends.

 http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/Easywormbin.htm

After I picked up my bins at Lowes and drilled the holes I ordered the little guys.

http://www.unclejimswormfarm.com/

I just ordered the worms from this site above but it is loaded with all kinds of things to get you into vermiculture….. a fancy term for worm farming. Now it will probably be months before I have some of the good stuff for the garden but I will be patient.

This a close look at the surface – they are there but just hiding – they don't like the light. Sometimes I find a few up the sides of the bin where it is a little warmer. I keep a blue tinted light hanging a few feet above the bin at night to keep them above the 50 degree range. I keep the bin in an unheated garage right now as my bride says they can't be in the house… She let's me keep my beer fermenter in the house right now – 5 gallons of Farmhouse Ale is the current batch fermenting. I wonder if worms like the trub from the wort boiling. Hmmmmmmm. I won't push my luck. 

 

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