Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Dash of Color

I have been a gardening maniac for the last few weeks.  With the late spring, it feels like things are moving along quickly and there is SO much work to do just to get the gardens set for the season.  When I need a break from the physical labor of gardening I will sometimes grab my camera and stroll around the grounds to take some photos.

My bleeding hearts are in full bloom behind the house. Such magnificent flowers!bleedingheart

Volunteer Violets are blooming in the garden too. My Grandma called them “Johnny Jump-ups” and they will always remind me of her.  As a small girl, when I would go to visit she would always send me home with a bouquet of these flowers for my mom.  They were prolific at her house, almost like weeds.  She would wet a paper towel, wrap them gently around the stems, and finish it off with tinfoil to hold in the moisture.  I was always so proud to bring these little gems home to my mom, who would put them in a very small crystal vase and place them in the windowsill.  It is these memories that make my heart happy each spring when these lovely flowers appear in my garden.

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And then there are the tulips.  One can never have enough tulips.  I do not have enough tulips.

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I need to remember that this fall.  I really do need to plant more tulips.  They are such a beautiful way to welcome spring.

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I planted these a few years ago when I put in my new Magnolia tree.  I don’t even know the variety, but I really do love them.  The bright color stands out boldly from all the green spring foliage and makes a real statement.DSC_0330

These purple tulips are pretty too, but their color is more muted and seems to get lost a little in the sea of spring green.  I’m not complaining though.  They are beautiful too.purpletulipsI have a lot more pictures of spring blossoms and flowers to share.  Things are really blooming around here!

Hope you are enjoying spring blooms in your part of the world!

Lynell

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Starting Over Again – Bees 2013

As I mentioned in an earlier post this winter, we had a roller-coaster of a summer last year with our bees.

After being so thrilled that we had successfully wintered our bees for the first time since starting beekeeping, we were devastated to discover that they had swarmed in May because we waited too long to divide the hives and they became too crowded.  The early spring last year and the warm temperatures moved everything ahead and because of our inexperience, we missed the signs that they were preparing to swarm.

All was not lost however, because when bees swarm they leave behind a portion of the worker bees along with new queen cells, one of which eventually becomes the new queen.  We observed the hives over the next few months and it appeared that things were back on track, they had a new queen, and were rebuilding their population.  Of course, the hives were not nearly as strong as they would have been had they not swarmed, but we knew we would still get a honey harvest.

The honey started flowing and the bees had built up a good amount of supers of honey.  Once again, our optimism for our honey harvest was shattered in October when Jesse went out to the hives to check on them and discovered they had been robbed!  Yes, hives can be robbed by feral bees.  All the frames that the bees had worked so hard to fill all summer long were stripped completely clean, as if they had never had a bit of honey in them.  The other unfortunate effect from robbing, is that the honeybees usually die in the process of defending their hive against the invaders.

Needless to say, we lost both hives of bees and only ended up with a very small amount of honey to harvest…another year of learning about all the things that can go wrong beekeeping.  We have just put in our order for two nucs of bees this spring.  We are not giving up; we’re just starting over again.

So, spring finally arrived and so did our two nucs of bees.  The bees arrived to our supplier on a rainy and dreary Friday afternoon.  Jesse and our daughter went to work getting the hives ready to add the nucs, which are about 5-6 frames of bees with a queen and brood.
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After adding a few frames to each hive of honey from last year’s bees, it was time to get suited up and put the frames in the hive.

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The bees were very riled up and it was a little scary, so I did not stay too long to photograph. I don’t think they enjoyed the ride across the plowed field in the back of the 4-wheeler, even if it was a slow one. 🙂bee3

Our daughter braved the angry bees for the installation of one nuc and only received one sting on her leg.  She decided to let her dad install the other hive.bee4

We have not examined the hive to look for brood, but after about 10 days it was clear that the bees were multiplying and Jesse decided to add another brood box. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and he can take a peek inside soon to see how things are going.

bees5In the meantime, I can tentatively say that things appear to be going well so far this season with the bees.  I know all too well however, that any number of bee disasters might be ahead yet this summer.  We are continuously learning and expanding our knowledge of beekeeping, so I am hopeful that it will be an uneventful beekeeping season.

For any beekeepers out there, how is your season starting out?

Lynell

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Woodland Carpet

Spring time brings with it a beautiful display of woodland flowers in the woods surrounding our house.  Wildflowers carpet the ground and because the mosquitos haven not yet hatched, it is still enjoyable to stroll through the woods and take in the views.
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I wrote a post a few years back in which I identified some of the flowers growing in the woods.(Woodland Wildflowers)  I could not resist photographing them again though. They are just too inviting.

Sanguinaria canadensis, or Bloodroot.
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Claytonia virginica, or Virginia Spring Beauty.DSC_0333

At the time I took the photos in my earlier post, the Trilliums had not yet bloomed, so I did a later post featuring them. (Trillium’s Turn).

For some reason, this year all the flowers seem to be blooming at the same time.  Maybe the late spring?

Trillium grandiflorum, or Trillium (Large-flowered Trillium).

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I came across one flower that I did not photograph or identify in my earlier post.  I headed over to the Minnesota Wildflower website again to help with identification.

Uvularia grandiflora, or Large-flowered Bellwort.

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I spent some time photographing this flower when I noticed this big bumble-bee enjoying it.  I found it very relaxing to sit quietly among the flowers in the woods watching the slow and methodical work of the bumble-bee.DSC_0348

And finally…a stroll in the woods with my camera is always peaceful, but rarely solitary.  Eventually the animals always decide to check on me and see what I am doing.

DSC_0359I don’t mind though.  After all, keeping us company is what pets are for, right?

Lynell

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First Harvest of Spring – Asparagus

Spring is rolling along here on the farm and we have been busy digging around in the gardens.  Our asparagus patch is booming this year and I noticed a few days ago that several spears had poked through the soil.  We have had very warm temperatures the last few days and when I went out to the garden today there were loads of spears to harvest!
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Because we have struggled with asparagus beetles damaging our crop in the past, I started checking the spears for signs of this pesky bug.  It didn’t take long and I spotted a sign of the beetles…the tiny beetle eggs protruding from a spear.
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We noticed these eggs for the first time several years ago and started researching what they could be.  One of my favorite resources, the University of Minnesota Extension website, had a great article about asparagus beetles.  Here is a picture of this pest from the website:

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Besides the disgusting eggs on the spears, the big problem with these beetles is that they damage the spears, causing the tips to brown or curl into a deformed shape.  We had noticed these problems before with our asparagus and were glad to identify the source.  The advice in the article for controlling the beetles recommended handpicking them in smaller gardens like ours and that is the method that we have used.

Handpicking, especially in small gardens, can be effective. Drop adults and larvae in a pail filled with soapy water. Also remove the dark brown eggs from the spears. New adult beetles can fly into the garden, so be sure to check your asparagus regularly.

I am hoping we can get the beetles under control right away this spring.  We checked them this evening and found three adults on one of the spears.  They squish really easily between your fingers.  🙂

Battling the asparagus beetles is well worth the effort because there is nothing that says spring  like fresh asparagus out of the garden.  Our favorite way to cook asparagus is to place it on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and broil in the oven until it is softened.  It was a real treat tonight to enjoy our first harvest from the garden this spring.

Lynell

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Love my Magnolia Tree

We are loving spring around the farm.  We are getting in the gardens, raking the leaves out and tilling up the soil.  My Star Magnolia tree is bursting with its showy blooms.
photo-1aIt is such a beautiful sight.  I love this magnolia tree.

-Lynell

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