Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Almost past August

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?


Emily said...

More tomatoes for me. Last year I did 50 plants, and thought they were a bit crowded. SO this year I did 25 and thought with more space they might produce just as much. That might be true if I didn't live in NH. Now I'm missing the poundage that I froze and canned last year. So next year I'm back to 50 plants.

Erin said...

Those photos of the girls in the bee suits are priceless!

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

I love that they have their own hives! I can sympathize with wearing a bee suit in the heat. We inspected four hives in the mid 80's some weeks ago, I swore I wouldn't do that again ;) It's probably good that the bees are replacing their Queen now, before the drones all disappear. Our hives have drastically dropped drone production in the last few weeks, but there are still a few about. Hopefully they'll raise a healthy new Queen, she'll be well mated, and they'll build up a good population of Winter bees. Crossing my fingers!

Annie*s Granny said...

Fewer cherry tomatoes, no yellow tomatoes, switch back to previously grown cucumber varieties, and not so many beans! Make a hoop bed for the spinach and beets, to keep out the leaf miners. Hold out hpe that I won't be too darned old to have a garden ;-)

Kristin said...

Let what you can go to seed. It works better than trying to grow seedlings on your own.

The girls are adorable beekeepers.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

I'm thrilled to hear that we can grow cucumbers.

Strange news about your queens.

Stefaneener said...

Emily, that's great. I wish I'd been more on top of tomatoes too this year. I'm barely making blackberry jam! You must have a lot of room.

Erin, thanks. They are awfully cute.

CVF, I bet I lose five pounds of water every time I inspect. Tomorrow is inspection of the one formerly queenless hive. I'm going to leave the one from this post alone for a while.

AG, on one hand I can't imagine you being too old to garden, on the other I can imagine you wanting to scale back. But I bet it keeps you out of trouble.

Kristin, you're right. Volunteers do help. If only they'd go where I want them to.

Lisa, are you talking allergy-wise or climate-wise? Cukes it is! I just don't want to grow lemon cucumbers any more. The bees baffle me.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

I didn't think it was warm enough for cucumbers. I failed with them two years ago. Slugs ate 'em all the way to the ground. I get mine from a gardening friend in Martinez.

I went out to the Oakland stables, to get manure, only to discover that they've been closed (due to budget woes?)

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