Hurricane Harvey


Hurricane Harvey sneaked up on me. My wife and I left the Houston area 7 days prior to Hurricane Harvey hitting the Texas coast. We were celebrating our daughter’s wedding up in gorgeous Aspen Colorado. We decided to stay a little longer and returned on August 25th……coinciding with the arrival of Harvey. United pilot flew in through the storm bands circulating with Harvey and touched down whisper smooth!

On August 19th, the day after we left for Colorado, the National Hurricane Center indicated that Harvey’s circulation was disintegrating. No worries, huh? Once the storm crossed the Yucatan Peninsula and passed into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico the energy and circulation increased. Well, my bees, in a couple of locations, were at risk from potential winds.

My biggest worry was my top bar hive in Splendora. Less of a worry were my 3 hives located up off Russel Palmer at the western edge of Kingwood. My protege, Max, took it upon himself to ratchet strap the boxes and top bar to prevent wind damage on Thursday, the day before the winds and rain began to kick up here. I had to thank him from a distance.


The top bar in the background and a triple deep Langstroth in the foreground. At the right, is an 8 frame garden hive that I had placed a strap on several weeks prior to leaving.

Now…..to Splendora. My two Langstroth hive tops were weighted down – one with a large disc brake rotor and the other with a old rusty hydraulic jack. The top bar hive was MY BIG worry. I had a couple of mechanic’s wire tie downs for the top but…….after repeated use they had broken off too short…I hadn’t yet got a “round to it” given to me to fix them …….so, Friday, the day of the Hurricane as we were driving down out of the Rocky Mountain National Park, my Goo friend John and I discussed having him repair the wire tie downs…..He was my “round to it”.

John is an over achiever and wound up putting straps on all three hives….Thanks John!


In addition to a strap on the top bar in the background he added some bricks….well done lad!

Now, to wait out this storm and hope the bees tolerate the rain! I hope my curiosity can be held in check …….. I want to visit my bees! Almost 5 inches of rain in the last 24 hours and much, much more is expected.





Work, Sweat and Very Little Play

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The Big Freeze

I have been making progress removing the summer jungle growth from the garden. My eggplant plants (is that redundant?) looked healthy but the blossoms were not setting so out they came. The bed they were in was in pretty good shape and not overrun with Bermuda grass. I spent the morning getting it “really” weed free and water saturated, preparing the bed to receive two new tomato transplants. I selected a grape tomato and a beef master to place in the ground after sundown tonight. This bed has never had tomatoes so I am hoping that they take off. To help them along I put about two cups of worm poop at the bottom of each hole prior to dropping the plants in.

Worm poop! During my month in California the worms were left unattended in the garage. I had placed the top bin on the nearly finished bottom bin just before I left. They had no food, no visitors and no monitoring…… I expected the worst! I was pleasantly surprised when I began the poop harvest yesterday. Both bins looked rich with dark black worm poop, odor free and no apparent food scraps available for the little guys. From what I had read, the environment could become toxic – killing the little guys. They were absolutely thriving! As I dug into the bins there were still remnants of newspaper and cardboard…they still had some food! I wound up with about 15 lbs. of the richest looking fertilizer that the little guys have ever produced for me. Oh yes, odor free means that  it has no offensive odor…. really it just smells like damp, rich soil. The Meyer lemon barrel with surrounding strawberries enjoyed a worm poop banquet tonight as well as the pepper plant in the other barrel.

My last task this evening was removing this year’s dead blackberry vines. This year’s growth is starting to kick in nicely. I am being a little more diligent in pinching off the terminal growth as the new shoots hit 3+ feet or so. This forces lots of lateral growth in hopes of an abundant 2012 berry season. I hope to make my wonderful blackberry jam before the December 2012 Apocalypse! The photo on the lead-in is from the February freezing rain followed by an extended few days of bitter cold ( at least bitter for Houston). I am convinced that the lingering freeze hurt my harvest. For whatever reason only the terminal buds produced. Go figure.

Tomorrow or Thursday is tilling day. I will take my most Bermuda grass laden bed off line for 6 weeks. I will attempt to solarize it under a clear plastic sheet to kill the roots, rhizomes and other bad weed seeds. Three t-shirts today and it looks even uglier over the next three days. Yes, I hear all y’all, drink lots of water. I will!



I am back limping into my garden.


My Gecko Helping Patrol for Pests
Mmmmmm Good My Blackerries
Bunches of Juliett Tomatoes - Can't Wait!!!!
Cucumbers are Getting Big

I am back limping into the garden and enjoying the veggies. The weeds got a little ahead of me but the Gecko is keeping most of the bad bugs scared off.- I wish LOL. He still looks good even if he does not eat much.

Everything is growing so well! My Roma and Juliet tomatoes are kicking butt. Unfortunately my Brandywine plants are green, healthy and tall – but won't set tomatoes. They taste so good but I may not get any this year.

At least the blackberries are doing very well. Lucky for me that my wife Kathy is out in California because she loves fresh berries. I do too but I really like to gather enough to make jam. I have a gallon in the freezer, have snacked on the fresh ones and will probably get another gallon or two before we head off to Australia. The strawberries have slowed down but there is an increase in blossoms so I should have another round of the luscious red delights very soon.

A cluster of green Juliet tomatoes. They do incredibly well in the Houston heat. One plant will overwhelm a family so that's all I plant. They are so tasty and look a lot like a miniature Roma tomato. I hope the Brandywine's will at least set a few for me!

Now another bounty! The cucumbers are kicking in and as always I have planted more than we can eat. So friends and neighbors bet to share in the bounty.

My experiment in my friends backyard is doing OK. It was doing very well, his dog was ignoring it until …….. until I added some fish emulsion. Well, his Golden Retriever Pismo dug up the spots where I placed the fish emulsion several times but now the scent is gone and the plants are undisturbed. John has used some of the Rosemary and we have a few tomatoes setting as well as the cucumbers beginning to stretch up toward the supports. Salad components soon!

I'll be back!

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