Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving week! What I’ve said about farm work many times previously apparently also applies to holidays: there’s always more that you want to do than you actually have time for! Nonetheless, in my brief trip back to Minnesota, we had lots of good food, many fun outings, and time at home for crossword puzzles, board games, movies, and popcorn.
One of our outings was to the relatively new Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. The displays at the center focus on pollinators of all kinds, including butterflies and solitary bees, but with an emphasis on honey bees. They have an apiary viewing room as well, which looks out to a group of a half dozen honey bee hives. We happened to be there on a day that was approaching 60 degrees (about 25 degrees above normal!), which I think the bees appreciated as much as we did. It was interesting to see that there, as here, side-by-side colonies could exhibit very different behavior. Two of the hives were abuzz with activity, while another two had little to no comings and goings. It was also interesting to see the winter preparations that had been put in place for these northern bees. Some of the hives bodies were wrapped with insulation, and each had an entrance reducer to limit the amount of cold air entering the hive. Thankfully, neither of those cold-weather precautions are necessary this far south.
Upon arriving back to the sun and warmth of southwest Georgia, bees were the farthest thing from my mind, the visit to the Pollinator Discover Center notwithstanding. Nonetheless, as I was nearing the jelly palms that separate yard from field, I was surprised to hear bee activity. My first thought was that I was hearing another bee swarm, because this was right where our bees swarmed to earlier this year. But no, I immediately corrected myself, this isn’t the right time of year for a swarm. So I looked around, and finally looked up into the jelly palms and noticed that one of them was flowering, which had also caught the bees’ notice. It made me so happy to know that our honey bees were still finding some nectar and pollen, short-lived as it may be.
At some point while I was gone, winter did poke her nose in to let us know that it was time to take her seriously. Some of our veggies had suffered some light frost damage, but luckily nothing was outright killed by the frost. It did mean, however, that there was some triage to be done prior to harvesting, especially for the lettuces. By removing the damaged outer leaves, I was able to get to inner, protected leaves. Following harvest, the lettuces were swaddled in two layers of floating row covers to hopefully avoid any additional damage from light frosts.
In addition to lettuce, we harvested collard greens, kale (mature and baby), spinach, radishes, turnips, and broccoli today. Carrots and kohlrabi are not far behind! The major excitement this week is that we brought in the first of the watermelon radishes, which I’ve so been looking forward to! These radishes are completely unlike the more familiar salad radishes. These have a white exterior, which is where all the radish spiciness is stored. Some people really like that heat; I prefer to peel watermelon radishes and only eat the mild and crunchy watermelon-colored interior. Watermelon radishes can only be grown in the fall, which, in addition to them being delicious, is another reason why I so strongly anticipate their arrival.