Archive for April, 2011

An Overture to Proliferation

Wow! It’s been far too long since my last post; and, for that, I must apologize. As the end of the semester is fast approaching, I’m finding that I have far less time than normal! So, just so you all know, my posting is definitely going to be spotty until May 4, the date of my last final (oddly enough, that’s the same day as the last frost in our area…guess that means that I’ll have a LOT more time for the garden!). Although I really don’t have much time tonight (a modified lesson plan and a batch of white chocolate cranberry cookies that need taken out of the oven are calling my name), I thought I’d catch you up on what’s been happening in the Scholar’s Garden!

First off, I’d like to recommend a book that I’ve just begun reading: “Carrots Love Tomatoes” (truthfully, I’ve had this book for over a week now, but haven’t had the time to really crack it open until recently). If you’re interested in companion gardening, this is THE book you need (if you’re wondering, no, I don’t receive any kickbacks from the publisher). Companion gardening is an excellent way to get the most out of your garden. By placing certain plants near each other, a plethora of beneficial effects can take place. Not only does this book tell you which vegetables, fruits, nuts, and herbs make good garden-mates, but also what wild plants (that look like weeds) to leave in your yard, which weeds and leaves make the best compost, and how to design the ideal companion garden for the veteran gardener or for a yard teaming with children. With this book on hand, along with my very old copy of “The Square Foot Garden,” I’ve been attempting to design this year’s garden in a way that will make both me and my plants happy!

Speaking of making things happy, Eric and I have recently been as busy as, well, bees! In preparation for the bees’ arrival, we’ve been putting the finishing touches on our hive. Because of a scheduling delay, the delivery date of our bees has been pushed back (we were supposed to receive the girls this past Sunday); but, nonetheless, we’ve been hard at work making sure that the bees will enjoy their new home. In fact, I was able to take a few pictures of our final set-up that I thought I would share.

As we set out to put the beeswax foundation in our frames (the individual slots in the hive bodies that you can see in the second picture of the bottom row) we encountered quite a few problems. For future beehive construction projects, I’m going to definitely make an effort to remember to bring all of the screws and tools necessary to put the entire structure together (in lieu of a brad driver, we had to use a pair of needle-nose pliers and a large, flat-head screwdriver to secure our brads)!

And, just as a heads-up to anyone planning on assembling your own hive, make sure you save all of the wood that comes with your kit! Case-in-point: we threw away what appeared to be scraps when we first assembled the frames and boxes, but those flimsy, seemingly useless pieces of wood were actually supposed to hold the beeswax to the frame! So, as you can see in the second picture of the first row, we resorted to using paint stirrers for our supports. Despite these difficulties, the hive is 100% complete and ready for the most important part of this whole project: the bees!

So that’s what’s been going on in our neck of the woods! I do hate to run, but I must pull those cookies out of the oven (if they turn out well, I’ll be sure to post the recipe for you to enjoy…if they aren’t so good, we’ll just forget I ever mentioned them)!

Have a great night, and, as always, happy gardening!

Breaking Ground

If you’ve read my last two beekeeping posts, then I’m sure that you’re aware of our recent weather situation (mainly, that it’s been cold, windy, and all around miserable). The picture of the thermometer on the right was taken last week, long before it snowed! Luckily for us, though, we had a little taste of Spring weather this weekend. This meant that we had to capitalize on this fleeting opportunity to get into the garden as quickly as we could!

Although I don’t have too much time tonight (thanks to a paper on “The Yellow Wallpaper” that has yet to write itself), I thought I’d break my recent schoolwork-induced writing fast and quickly let you all know where the Scholar’s Garden stands!

As the last frost date draws near (here in central PA it’s May 4), we’ve been scrambling to prepare the land for this year’s garden. With the warm weather and stink bugs fast approaching (the first one of those six-legged pests was spotted outside today), it was decided that this weekend we would break ground and establish the plot. Because I’ve been stuck inside working on scholarly assignments, my dad was kind enough to begin the de-grassing process in the yard. Before too long, the garden took shape, and, now, all that’s left is to fill it in with dirt, fertilize the area, and perform a soil sample or two!

With the main garden in as much order as possible, I turned my attention (and Garden Weasel) to the smaller plot which is already home to the garlic plants I mentioned in “The Equinox.” It was decided that all of the Alliums (plants in the onion/garlic family) grown this year would be placed in this spot. So, in an attempt to get a jump on the rapidly-nearing planting season, I started the rest of our leeks in the terrarium and attempted to plant our red onion sets. “Attempted” being the key word there.

As it turns out, leaving your onion sets in a plastic container tends to build up quite a bit of moisture, which, in turn, seems to turn your once-vibrant onions into the perfect hiding spot for lovely blue/green mold. Since we’re not trying to cultivate mold this year (colorful as it may be), we were forced to purchase a second bag of onions; and, eventually, place them into the ground. From what I’ve heard, you’re supposed to plant onion sets about eight weeks before the final frost date, but, as I only learned this bit of knowledge yesterday, four weeks before the final frost will have to do! Even though we encountered a few, minor setbacks in the onion-planting process, our baby alliums are, at long last, safely nestled next to their adolescent cousins.

Sadly, I must be off to ponder the inner workings of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” but I’ll leave you with a very handy, succinct guide to growing onions entitled, “How to Plant Onions!”

As always, happy gardening!

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