Friday, May 1, 2009


Limie has a new friend - though he's quite the "stiff". i don't know why - but i feel that i have to name my gargoyles and statues....for some reason....this one said, "Lester".

Every time she goes exploring on the deck...she has to visit him.

backyard bees

Backyard Beehive Update: WOW! two whoppin' full hives - spring inspections revealed VERY FEW dead bees.

The girls were taking in pollen early. Some were SO FULL and YELLOW with pollen - from tip to tail - that in a quick glance when passing the hive, i thought they were "bad" bees - or something "new".

All is well with these hives and i'll be making my first "split" and starting a third hive somewhere in the yard. The other hive i may split and reinforce the two other hives i have off-site.

Next Friday - i'll be giving a presentation at a school - an assembly program for a "late" earthday celebration. this will also be a "first" with my OBSERVATION HIVE. i had a friend build one for me. it holds two frames of bees. it doesn't have a feeder on it - it's not meant for more than a couple of hours. THE GIRLS ARE GOING FOR A RIDE!

"Grandma" has agreed to help for the day.


Martins. I remember dad relaxing in the backyard - just sitting there with a Milwaukee Brewer's game on the radio, watching his martins. aerial acrobats.

There's a trick to getting martins - but once they're established, they come back. the first year we put up our martin house, we got some - must have been shear luck. the next year - they didn't return. something must have happened to them.

If you are going to keep "nest boxes" for birds - you MUST keep sparrows & starlings out! sparrows have been well known to kill everyone in the box and lay their nest right over the previous occupants. i won't say here what i REALLY call these birds. starlings must be kept from martin houses - or martins won't nest.

i used to just shoot "bad" birds, but now we have a house in the backyard (that's another story).

with a little engineering...and because i have all this stuff that i work with....this is what we came up with this year.

SHOWN is: velcro "doors" that go over the holes - until i remove them. i just have to watch for any martins to arrive....and open a few holes - to see if they're interested. we'll see very soon, if it works. i've yet to hear any in the yard.

dormant oil spray - homemade

i've come across a "homemade" recipe for a dormant oil spray for apple trees. dormant oil spray is (obviously?) sprayed on apple trees in the spring when they're still in their dormant state and up until buds begin to form/open. the theory is, that the oil/detergent mixture suffocates bugs & bug eggs lying in wait in the bark & whatnot of the tree. (i also sprayed the ground around the tree).

the recipe i came across....was for a GROVE!

here it is - converted down....makes enough for 3 or 4 trees:
2 Cups Mineral Oil (apparently this is also used as a laxative??! - i found mine at fleet farm in the health and beauty aids isle) one bottle was 2 cups.
2 oz. of Oil Based Granular Soap (this is like "ivory snow"...i found mine under the name "ecos" in the natural food/etc. section of the grocery store)
1 Cup Water
Boil all these together, mixing well. Further dilute: 1 part to 20 parts water. Use immediately - or it separates.

Spray every couple of weeks from April until the buds start forming/opening.

Gives your trees a nice shine!

been awhile

according to the time elapsed - i've been doing nothing at all. not true. BEES, BAGPIPES & DRUMS, PLANTING TREES, GRAFTING, TRANSPLANTING, GETTING GARDENS READY, GARDEN PLANNING,....oh and work (my real job - the thing that pays for all this stuff)

Backing up to earlier this friend Kim visited the weekend from Iowa....and we tried "our hand" at grafting. Grafting is the only way to TRULY cultivate the species of apple that you desire - planting a seed, is a mix of genetics. Last fall, we "discovered" this AMAZING apple tree in the ditch (the FREE right-of-way!) just down from the house.

Disgusted by our own trees - which FINALLY produced apples - in ABUNDANCE....but FULL of worms (and is in my opinion - an "icky" variety....yellow delicious - how boring....), they received a MAJOR haircut - all fruit and limbs removed - grass trimmed down to the ground. We have to break this bug cycle. Obviously - i don't care to spray because of the bees. - let's take this newly "discovered" apple tree - which is not only EXCITING (the shape is like a little delicious - the skin is a red/yellow stripe - the flesh turns PINK! when you bite into it) - but is WORM/disease free!!! and graft it to the boring yellow delicious. this apple seemingly has some type of natural has it's own "waxy" coating????

a couple of months will tell if any of the grafts take.