I know it's almost the end of summer because the kids in our neighborhood are back in school -- and I cannot convey how happy that makes me. Suffice it to say that I enjoy the quieter time with my own little schoolchildren at home.
The garden is suffering, though. The weather is warmer, I'm still having trouble with the water-retention in the soil (amend, amend, amend), and I'm still not where I'd like to be in terms of succession. We've had trouble with the timer for the lights over the seedlings, so many of them didn't make it.
I think I may be ready to get back in gear, except that I'm working much more than I had been, plus we're aiming for more rigor in our studies and work, so "free" time in the garden has been hard to come by. I am just coasting, waiting for either a free couple of days or just overwhelming inspiration to hit. Then I'll borrow a truck and go get some horse poop!
All is not bad. The final winter crops are giving up just as the summer ones are really hitting their stride (remember I live in a sort of "off" coastal climate. We don't get hot until September). Last night, everything in dinner except the onions and pasta came in from the back about 5 minutes before cooking:
And in a baking frenzy last week with my nephew and Caterina, one of the five breads we turned out was a lemon-glazed soaked lemon poppy seed bread with just-harvested poppy seeds:
And the first ripe Meyer lemon of the season:
Getting good pictures with the little camera is still making me completely insane, but neither a new lens nor a new camera are in the works very soon. We have other priorities right now.
Ellie set out the other day to inspect "her" hive. Caterina suited up as the tour photographer, and I had intended to stay completely out of it. Turns out, though, that unless you're used to it or very very strong, cracking and lifting hive sections is difficult:
So despite the heat -- it was over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, can you imagine? -- I suited up and yanked boxes for her and talked her through it. She made it through nearly everything, before getting hot and discouraged. The bees were cranky, as I'd noticed last time. This time, though, there was an explanation:
At the bottom of a number of frames, we saw broken-open queen cups, some with larvae (sorry! sorry!) some just filled with royal jelly. They're either replacing or raising up a new queen. Doesn't look to me as though they're likely to swarm since there's lots of room, just as though the queen is failing miserably due to the patchy brood we saw. Oh well - what a year for queen troubles it has been.
One thing I have been doing successfully is making a list of next summer's must-dos. Mine looks like this so far:
More dry beans
More bell peppers
More dry corn
More Tristar strawberries
Fewer summer squash
Pumpkins - 2 plants
Pull volunteer tomatoes
Pull volunteer sunflowers
More carefully-planted cut flowers
More straw mulch
More slicing cucumbers
No lemon cucumbers
Stake tomatoes the "old" way
Reinforce where the hoses join the spigots; they're breaking
Keep pathways clearer
More broccoli in late spring
And I'm sure there's others. That's just what I can remember.
What summer resolutions are you making for next year?
The Fig Old Fashioned
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