This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. But Skippy always stood by me and was a great friend. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps and garden with me. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes, chickens and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Monday, April 27, 2015

checking my hives after 1 week

Two hives, two queens. I opened up my hives a week after installing my packages (new bees) to check on them today. I was relieved that I was able to identify queens. I ordered two marked queens, but one had lost her marker and I was surprised to see her looking plain but different from all the rest.

My bees are so sweet and calm. I have spent a lot of time watching them, close up and at a distance, and no stings (yet). I found I cannot trigger my cell phone camera button with my bee gloves on, so I work one handed - one glove on one off and can take pictures. Aren't they beautiful!!

bees IMG_1214bees IMG_1218 bee queen 2 IMG_1211bbees IMG_1192 bees IMG_1219 bees IMG_1200

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bee notes

Hive 1 (white hive): Four and a half frames are 50% built out. I found the queen. Some cells have yellow stuff (pollen) and others have clear liquid (nectar) in them. I can't see any signs of eggs and don't know what they would look like at this point. Lots of bees! The sugar water is 2 inches down.

Hive 2 (green hive): Looks about the same as the white hive. Four frames build out about 30% and then a couple more frames are build out a little bit. I found a queen that is unmarked and took a picture of her. Like the other hive I don't see eggs. Some cells have milky white maybe at the bottom, a number have pollen or nectar. Sugar water is about 2 inches down.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

me in my beesuit

beesuit selfie IMG_1112

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

bees tomorrow

We spent a lot of time today getting ready for bees. I'll bring home two "packages" midday tomorrow. Today we raked then positioned the boxes. We adjusted the sprinklers. I practiced "smoking" with pine cones, made a couple quarts of sugar water. I think I'm ready.

Tomorrow, I'll pick up the packages, uncork the queen and dump in the bees. The boxes are in a good location I think. Nice morning sun. Good mid afternoon shade. Our magnolia trees have begun to bloom so the bees will like that I hope. A few crocuses, daffodils and chinodoxa are blooming too. Too bad we have a driving rain storm coming tomorrow night. The bees can stay put in their new home.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

bee hives are in place

Well, the boxes were in place. They had a great place by my garden, then noticed they don't get any morning sun there. So I moved them to the opposite side of the yard. Still checking if that spot get's good sun and no sprinklers. Its the driest edge of the yard and grass struggles there, so that's probably a good sign that its the warm and sunny.

IMG_1065 - CopyIMG_1066 IMG_1084 Oh, I'll probably move them again. That white one looks like its sticking out in the yard. I could move it closer to the green one and tuck it in more.

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spraying my cherry tree

winter sowing seedlings

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Monday, April 13, 2015

spraying fruit trees

All of a sudden it's warm! How does that happen. The snow and ice are suddenly gone. Time to spray my fruit trees. I use horticultural oil. The info sheet from UNH Cooperative Extention is great.
Pears, Two applications to control psylla, mites and scale. First, spray at swollen bud stage, on 3rd or 4th warm spring day, use 3% oil. Spray again between green cluster and white bud stage.
Apples, Spray once between tight cluster and pre-pink stage. (Use two applications if you've had previous trouble.)
Cherry, One application at swollen bud stage.
Blueberries, One application, apply before buds open, use 2-3% oil.

Today my two espaliered pear trees were at swollen bud stage so I sprayed then. It was a beautiful first day in my community garden plot.

getting ready for bees

I have collected all my bee equipment. Jacket, hat, smoker, boxes, inserts etc. Yesterday I painted the boxes. White and two shades of green. Next I'll position the boxes down by my garden and make sure the sprinklers don't hit them. I have two packages of bees arriving next Monday.

IMG_2183IMG_2180 IMG_0984 - CopyIMG_1067 IMG_0985

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

swallows arrive

The tree swallows arrived here this morning!!! What fun to see them. They are swooping all over my garden. A pair seems to have claimed the same nesting box where a swallow pair nested last year. I read that our NE tree swallows have been in Florida or Cuba for the winter.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

skippy's full season planting calendar is out

Our full season app has just been released at the Apple store. It includes spring, fall and winter planting calendars all in one. You can make a calendar with all seasons, or turn one or two seasons off.

Like our previous calendars, it gives you tasks by the week - like a real calendar. Other planting calendars list times by crop so you can't easily see what you need to do now. That's the main benefit of our app, I think. Also we have transplant times listed. And you can email me or comment here if you have a question.

We keep adding updates. I think we'll add some phenology soon, that is, traditional planting advice based on the seasonal flora and fauna changes. This is fun to know, but in odd winters like this in NE, phenology can help adjust traditional calendar planting dates. I still haven't heard those female redwing blackbirds, but the males are singing loudly. Peas are supposed to go in when the females show up.

BTW, if you have our spring calendar already, the update to full season is free.

Here is the link: Skippy's Full Season calendar
full season app screen shot panel

chipmunk

Our little chipmunk has finally come out of hibernation! I think he had the right idea on how to spend this winter.

chipmunk IMG_2227chipmunk IMG_2229 chipmunk IMG_2232

Monday, April 06, 2015

time to plant tomatoes

My planting calendar says it's time to plant tomatoes this week. I jumped the gun on thee and planted two werks early. This week I planted two types of sweaty peas (the flowers). A low white flowered one and tall mixed colors. And I'll soon plant some new bok choy seeds I got. I need to transplant my broccoli into bigger pots. I planted these several weeks early. I'm watching to see when my outdoor peas come up but it's soooooo cold this week. I'll wait to plant more outside.

What are you planting this week?

tomato seedlings IMG_2236 These are my tomato seedlings. I have four plants each of 16 varieties, 8 of Cherokee Purple. Hmm. 72 plants. What was I thinking? A few aren't sprouting, but the germination rate seems really good overall. I can fit about 25. My Mom will take 5 or 6, I think. That's not even homes for half. I'd give them away at my community garden, but we are encouraging gardeners to grow late blight resistant varieties there. Maybe a table by the roadside that says - FREE TOMATO SEEDLINGS....

I'm thinking about my pepper seedlings too. I planted 6 varieties 6 each, 36 plants. Mom will want at most 10, same with me. These I can give to the community gardeners.

planting calendars

I expect our full season planting calendar app will be out in the next day or two. It's being reviewed by Apple now. All of our apps are listed and explained at www.skippysgarden.com or at the link at the upper right of this blog. Purchasers of the spring app will receive a free upgrade to the full season version. The full season calendar price will be $1.99. The next thing we're working on is the android versions.

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Sunday, April 05, 2015

easter flowers

Finally!!! Yippee! The first brave flowers! IMG_2138 easter flowers IMG_2142easter flowers IMG_2156

Friday, April 03, 2015

today's sowing

Sweet peas, Cherub dwarf white (after soaking 24 hrs in water)
Soak tonight, sweet pea, Royal family

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

sowing peas

planting peas IMG_0947
I planted peas yesterday. The soil was nicely thawed and has been thawed for over a week now. I turned it a couple weeks ago, but it froze up soon after that. It thawed again soon after. It's drained well now and certainly workable.

I plant peas by digging a trench about an inch deep and 6 inches wide. I scattered in the peas. (I didn't have inoculant and will add some to the soil as soon as I find some. It's new soil and I want to be sure the nitrogen fixing bacterial are there.) I scatter the pea seeds fairly dense. They can hold each other up this way. I left space between the rows for another planting in a couple weeks.

Grow peas, grow!

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