Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spring Garden

Our gardening is getting started. I've posted several posts about the bees because there is not much in terms of planting that can happen in Colorado before Mother's day. Here is a few pictures from yesterday May 10th.

The garlic is obvious with globe alliums to their right (front side of the garden). Further back is a growing patch of hairy vetch. In the foreground with the two green and white "t" posts laying on in the dirt are a couple of rows of beets (beetroot) and a row of radish. They were planted a week earlier and have a bit of compost over the top to keep them moist.

Here is a better shot of the hairy vetch. There is a few crimson clover blossoms in the very front. The vetch will flower in a couple of weeks. The bumble bees really like the nectar from these flowers. After it has flowered for a while I will rip the vines out and use the vines as mulch for the tomatoes that will be planted here. The hairy vetch mulch keeps the soil cooler and prevents all the moisture from evaporating. I'll leave the soil undisturbed (vs tilling) to leave as much of the hairy vetch root system in place. It fixes nitrogen and this should breakdown into the soil feeding the microbes and thus the tomatoes. There is some vetch mulch in the previous picture around the globe allium, it drys very fine.
This planting is an example of cover cropping. I planted this hairy vetch in early August with oats and some fava bean seeds. These were all left over seeds and just hand broadcasted and raked in slightly. The oats were the first to grow, and take over. See November post . The hairy vetch barley grew last fall while the oats grew almost 2 feet tall. The oats died during the winter and the vetch came back to life earlier this spring. The decomposing biomass is supposed to be really good for the soil, and an additional benefit is the early season green.
To the right of the vetch is one of my new favorites, that I have written about, hyssop. It is starting to green from the bottom up. I need to clean the dead twigs out and weed around these. The rock wall seems to warm the soil at the front edge of the garden. Its really popular with the weeds. This year I've already weeded in front of the Hyssop 3 times. The three worst offenders are: crab grass, bind weed, and Canadian thistles. I've planted some hyssop seeds for more plants this year (see below).

Above is a picture from today, Mother's Day. Its all covered by snow. Its expected to get cold tonight and tomorrow 24 degrees F. Then after Tuesday, we should be done with the freezing weather. The forecast for next weekend is 85F.
I've got the seedlings started in jiffy peat pellets.

All sorts of goodies that you can read about this summer. I don't have grow lights for these indoors except for a 2x2 ft florescent fixture above our clothes dryer. Its not really strong enough to prevent the seedlings from getting long and stringy. I bring the whole lot of them out on warmer days. On days that I have to work I leave them on the north side of the house where they don't get direct sunlight but it is brighter than the washroom. This location also keep these tender "babies" from getting cooked.

When I get home I move them to a direct sun location. I always keep them prop'ed open to let the heat escape. Almost forgot them outside last night! The piece of cement is to help keep the lid grounded in case of high winds.

Here is one of the hive splits (picture from yesterday). The queen should have hatched Friday or Saturday (yesterday) and should be ready for her mating flights later this week when it warms up. You can see the entrance is mostly closed up. This is to limit access to robbers from other hives. A smaller entrance is easier for them to defend. I haven't seen any robbing going on and the quart of sugar water has almost been ignored. This quart was filled two weeks ago. Last year my bees drank a quart of 1:1 sugar/water every two days. There has been a really great apple bloom going on so I'm sure they are getting better nectar. With the snow and cold temps we'll see how long the cup of sugar water lasts.

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