Monthly Archives: May 2010

This Year’s Vegetable Garden

Finally.  I am finally done planting my vegetable garden.  With the heat wave we have had lately here in Minnesota, everything has sprouted and is growing quickly.

I have planted all my typical crops:  lettuce, spinach, carrots, cilantro, onions, beans, tomatillos, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, corn, pumpkins, gourds and zucchini. Continue reading

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Filed under Gardens, Vegetable

Punishing Minnesota Heat???

It seems like just yesterday that I was lamenting about the frigid May temperatures we were experiencing here in Minnesota.  Actually, it was only two short weeks ago when we woke up to snow one morning and frost the next.  Scenes like this in May are disheartening for anyone, but especially for a gardener.

My perennial gardens endured these frigid temperatures, however, and bounced back quickly.

This past week we have seen much warmer temperatures and starting yesterday, the humidity rolled in too.  Today, just two weeks after temperatures in the high 20’s, it is in the mid-90’s with a dew point of 64.  The air is thick and oppressive.  The National Weather Service has even issued an “excessive heat” warning.  Bottom line is that it is damn hot and miserable.

Instead of snow and freezing temperatures, my perennial gardens must now suffer under this punishing Minnesota heat.  The same Autumn Joy Seedum plants pictures above with snow look like this today.

They are wilted and look pathetic, as do the Shasta Daisies. Continue reading

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Filed under Flower, Gardens

Queen Bee Update

Our adventure as beginning beekeepers keeps providing us with new challenges and opportunities for learning.  After getting our two packages of bees in early April, we soon discovered that the queen in one of the hives had not survived.  I picked up a new queen from our supplier and re-queened that hive (read about it here).  Following his instructions, we did not open the hive to check on the how she was doing for a full two weeks.

Excited to see how things were coming along, it was finally time to open the hive.

Even with our limited experience as beekeepers (one season), we knew right away that things did not look right.  The brood pattern was uneven and had this popcorn look, which are actually drone cells.  Drones are the male bees, which are from an unfertilized egg.  The drone cells are similar to, but larger than worker bee cells.  The number of drones per colony should be only around 15 percent of the total population.  We saw very few worker bee cells. Continue reading

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Controlling Lily-of-the-Valley Plants

Located in my front yard, covering up the electrical box for the septic system, is a bed of peonies.  I have collected these gorgeous flowers from various places, including saving some from an old farmstead that were doomed due to a road expansion project.

Some of the plants even descend from a plant that I divided from the farm that I grew up on. My obsession with gardening escalated when we purchased our first home in the city in 1991.  As a young married couple, we had absolutely no money and, as any gardener will tell you, gardening ain’t cheap.  So, I went home to my parents one weekend and took a division of some peonies to start my own perennial garden.

About four years later, when we moved back to our home town, I took some of those same peonies with to our new home as a foundation for my perennial gardens.  A few more years passed and we purchased the farm.  Once again, I got out the spade shovel and dug up those peonies to bring them along to my new home.

The roadside peonies that I rescued brought with them another beautiful flower, lily-of-the-valley.  These plants were a cute addition to the flower bed the first few years, with their delicate and fragrant bell-shaped white blossoms appearing in the spring.

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The Problem with a River is…

it is unpredictable and constantly changing.  The lazy, winding river by our house is no different.  It rises and recedes as the rain comes and goes.  You would think we would have this figured out by now.

After all, remember our maple syrup miscalculations?

In preparation for collecting sap, we placed our pails safely next to the maple trees in the backwater area of the river.

After a week of rain, we returned to the river bottom to find this…

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Our Buzzing Crabapple Tree

The Prairie Fire crabapple tree right outside my kitchen window is in full bloom .  It is quite a sight and smells delightful.

Apparently, we are not the only ones that are enjoying the tree.  After two days of rain, snow and freezing temperatures, we were outside Sunday enjoying the sunshine when we noticed a distinct humming sound coming from the tree.  A closer examination revealed that the tree was loaded with honeybees and a few random bumblebees. Continue reading

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Filed under Bees, Flower, Gardens, Photography

May in Minnesota

Spring in Minnesota is a season of contrasts.  Just this past week I posted pictures of my spring gardens off to a great start.  It has been an unusually warm spring and everything has been a couple of weeks ahead of normal.

Reality set in this weekend and we were all reminded that it is, after all, only May…and we live in Minnesota.

On Friday evening we looked out the window to find scenes like this…


And this…

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