Catching-Up on July

028033077107095082087088127129126124

These pictures are kind of old pictures now.  I started this post almost a month ago and then never finished it.  I actually took a bunch of pictures today to write a new post and it is insane how much growth there has been in the garden since these pictures were taken in July.  I contemplated just deleting these pictures and starting over but opted to keep some of it so I had a quick post to have for a record of this summer’s garden.

Hopefully I’ll get the new pictures posted soon to show the progress.  It seems crazy based on the pictures above, but we have been picking cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini (of course) and have already made a big batch of pesto with our basil.  Like usual, August will be a our big month and so far, things look good.

Our peas and some greens are already done for the season and strawberry season seems like a lifetime ago now!  We planted 25 strawberry plants this year and we have maybe harvested 15 strawberries! haha. I am not sure why we didn’t get many strawberries but I am glad that they are perennials. Maybe when they come back next year, they will be stronger and more productive. Because our strawberries were such a failure, we went strawberry picking at Nourse Farm.  The family farm has been there and continuously running since 1722! It’s super low-key and the people there are so nice.  We picked more than 10 lbs. of strawberries and made strawberry rhubarb pie and tons of strawberry “fruit roll-ups.”

I used a combination of a few recipes for the roll-ups but essentially you take about 4 cups of cut-up strawberries, 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and a quarter to half of a cup of sugar and blend it.  I used my dehydrator but you could do it in the oven as well with a silpat tray.  Just cook them on the lowest setting until they are no longer wet.  The kids love them.  You can adjust the lemon and sugar to your taste depending on how sweet or sour your strawberries are.  I have a few pounds of strawberries left that I hope to use for more when school starts but next year, I will definitely buy more strawberries in season. (Unless of course ours actually produce!)

Summer is flying by.  I need time to slow down.  I’m going to do my best to really embrace these next four weeks.  I really hope we get some summer weather, too.  It’s been so cool, I haven’t even wanted to swim in the pool and that is so unlike me. xo

P.S. – See the Queen??  She’s alive and laying!

 

Advertisements

New Bees

082085087090097093109111055077

It’s spring, I think… The tulips have all bloomed and the peonies are getting taller and taller.  That means it’s time for bees and the garden.  Finally! We lost both of our hives last fall so we had to replace them with new colonies or “packages.”  It went much smoother this time than the first time we did it — for a number of reasons but primarily because Sean took over this job and I just got to take pictures and videos!  It’s kind of an unnerving process because you have to shake thousands of bees from a box into the hive.  They are pretty good about wanting to stay with the Queen and go in pretty easily but it’s still a lot of bees and you have to bang the box kind of hard to really get them to fall out.  We had a beautiful day to put them in and in a couple of days, we will be able to open the hives up and check to see that the Queen is alive and that she is laying eggs.  Because we lost the other hives in the fall and the bees didn’t have a chance to go through any of their honey stores, the new bees should be off to a fast start and we should be able to harvest honey this spring, which we have not been able to do in years past.  Yesterday, after a few pretty dreary, cold days, we had a beautiful day and the bees were really active, bringing in tons of pollen.

We are getting to work on this year’s garden and our kitchen is full of seedlings.  It’s a little crazy.  Next year we may need to move things and get some grow lights.  This year’s garden will include flowers for cutting.  This is not something that we have done in the past — choosing to mostly focus on veggies and pumpkins — so I am really excited to see how it goes.  We are adding six additional raised beds and using the majority of the existing garden for more pumpkins. Sean built two of the beds yesterday and they look awesome.

We over-wintered our carrots and parsnips and they look beautiful already, thought not quite ready to pick.  We also unintentionally left the roots of some of our kale in over the winter as well and it is growing back really nicely.  Not sure how it will taste but it was a nice surprise to see it growing back and it looks really good.

Yesterday, we planted peas and some more kale and we have started to harden off some of the other seedlings.  It’s so tough to be in Massachusetts because the weather is so unpredictable but sometimes I think I wait too long to get things in the ground.  This year I am going to gamble a little bit and get things in earlier in May.  In my next post, I will share some of what we are growing. xo

August

019018023021013016029031book

Somebody said to me today, “you know it’s August, so everyone is trying to cram in everything they hoped to do this summer.” Ugh, that feeling is the worst.  It’s the same with Christmas.  I always have so many plans to make the most of the holiday season and then it goes by before you know it.  This summer, I keep reminding myself, we still have time.  But even I am realizing that there are only so many days left.  I’m trying really hard this year to just enjoy the little things and not rush it.  I’m also trying to do some of the things that don’t require a lot of effort but feel relaxing.  Like reading by the pool (The Nightingale. So good.), knitting with coffee, watching a crazy downpour.

Yesterday we went to check out an art installation on a trail in town and then went out to breakfast at a new diner in town.  It was such a nice walk.  I am so happy that there are people who take the time to give back to the community in that way.  And breakfast was so good, too.  Loving our little town these days.

We spotted several gourds finally growing the garden.  We bought the seeds when we were in Paris in April and I am irrationally excited about having them for fall decorating.  The chipmunks kept digging up the pots where I planted the lavender seeds that we also bought in Paris so these feel extra exciting.  We also got to spend a little time checking out the bees this weekend and they are rocking.  We are pretty confident that we will have a good harvest this fall.  xo

 

Busy Bees

June 2016 download 691

We checked on the bees this weekend and were happy to find the Queen in both hives.  A few weeks ago, we had a swarm from the pink hive, which did so well this winter that they simply did not have enough room in there.  We re-homed the swarm in this new mint green hive (color chosen by Ceara) and after a little over a week we saw eggs.  We patiently waited for nature to take its course in the pink hive and were so happy to find the new Queen as well as eggs and larvae when we did our inspection on Sunday.

June 2016 download 677June 2016 download 679

You can see the Queen nestled in between the frame and the comb in the photo above.

June 2016 download 676June 2016 download 656June 2016 download 665June 2016 download 663

I’m obsessed with how beautiful this frame of pollen is.  These colors are just gorgeous.

June 2016 download 674June 2016 download 684

We may have waited a little too long to add a new super to the new hive.  When we opened it up, we found this crazy comb built out between the sugar feeders that we had in an empty super on top.

June 2016 download 631

This is a photo of the swarm from a few weeks ago.  They basically left the hive and hung out on a tree about 20 feet away.  It was complete luck that I saw it.  I went out to check on the hives and happened to look around and see it there.  We set up a new hive with a super we were lucky enough to get quickly from a friend.  Then we gently brushed the swarm into a cardboard box with a bee brush.  We assumed that they were clustered around the Queen and that if we could get her in there, they would all follow.  You can see in the picture below that they are marching right in the box.  After they were all in, we shook them into the super and stocked them up with sugar water.  We now have two thriving hives. Fingers crossed they both stay strong. xo

June 2016 download 637June 2016 download 641June 2016 download 643