2017, July

Farm update – 7/23/2017

We once again spent a good portion of this weekend getting the garden and field cleaned up. Pulling up unproductive plants then weeding and raking to ensure the weeds don’t simply root back in are hard jobs, especially under the summer sun, but so rewarding for the end result. Like mowing grass or wiping down your counters, often you don’t realize how badly needed the weeding/mowing/etc. was until it is complete and the area looks completely transformed. Once done, you can stand there and just be proud of the amazing difference your work made – or maybe that’s just me! And the garden and field are looking pretty great right now, if much emptier than before.

This is a good time, as the diversity of our remaining summer crops dwindles, to be thinking ahead for fall planting. We plan to have all the familiar veggies on hand for fall: greens of all sorts (lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, collards, spinach, arugula), lots of root vegetables too (hakurei turnips, carrots, beets, and a variety of radishes), plus broccoli and cauliflower. We’ll bring back bok choy, which was so popular in the spring, and add another Asian green, tat soi, that should be just as delicious. We’ll hopefully have some kohlrabi this year too, which we haven’t grown in a few years. Pea shoots and mixed microgreens will be the greenhouse’s contribution to fall vegetable production. Of course, sweet potatoes and peanuts have long since been planted and will be ready for fall harvesting. If there’s anything missing from this list that you’d love to have us grow this fall, drop us a line and we’ll see if we can’t work it in to the fall planting plan!

Hive inspections all around were also on tap this weekend. If you’ve ever thought about getting into beekeeping, you will have noticed that one of the top 10 tips for new beekeepers is to never start with just one hive. One reason for this suggestion is that by having more than one hive, you’ll be more likely to notice if one of your hives isn’t developing normally. Though there are other good reasons for having more than one hive (being able to share resources between them, for example), this one particular reason has never made much sense to me, because, as a new beekeeper, if your hives are developing differently, you still may not know which one is “normal”. However, now that we have (a little) more experience with beekeeping, I’m finding that it is really useful to be able to compare and contrast the performance of multiple hives. Today’s inspection was the first since we stopped feeding this year’s new bees, the Twin Hives. My first inspection today, of the older Woods Bees, once again revealed that no honey has been made since the last inspection of that hive. Before, I would have (and did, with apologies now due to the Woods Bees) chalked this up to laziness on their part. However, once I completed the inspection of the Twin Hives, I realized that they too had accumulated little honey in the weeks since the last inspection. That’s when I realized, with all three hives behaving identically, that it’s not that the Woods Bees have been lazy, but simply that the main nectar flow of the year is over. Done. And bees apparently can’t make honey out of thin air!

We get asked at least a couple of times a week how the bees are doing and when we will have honey, so I know our honey is something lots of people are waiting for with great anticipation. Unfortunately, at this point, we definitely won’t have honey until fall, when and if there’s a good nectar flow from the autumnal goldenrods. Two years ago we were able to collect two supers of honey between July and November, but of course last year there was no fall honey due to drought. I have no idea how to estimate these odds, but based on previous experience, we’ll say there’s a 50-50 chance of collecting fall honey, and the same likelihood of this turning into The Year Without Honey. Let’s hope for the former!

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