Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer sizzle

The garden is looking so lush and green this summer! Thanks to everyone who has pitched in to keep the walkways and public areas clean and weed-free.

Five gardeners showed up to our latest monthly workday, which was up in the 90s and quite humid… so we mostly focused on the outside, public areas and tried not to pass out from heat exhaustion (hooray for cheap lemonade!). My husband Bill weed-whacked the whole alley; I picked up trash and weeded the public boxes; Jill swept the whole sidewalk and cleared the fence line, and then Kit and Joe showed up in time to help dig up our first harvest of potatoes in our public boxes.

Here's what the box looked like before harvest.
The plants got pounded pretty hard from the hailstorm a couple weeks back.

About half of the harvest. Most of the taties were just under the surface and easy to find.

Kit and Joe dig for carbohydrate gold!

Afterwards, we covered them up with a thin layer of soil,
and left a few little digger tools in the box for
kids to try their hand at the harvest.
The sign encourages passerby to help themselves.

Isn't this a great view?! One of our gardeners,
John, bought the condo that overlooks
the garden, and kindly allowed me
to get this shot of all our public boxes.
 We dug up probably over a hundred potatoes, and each of us chose a few to bring home with us. Then we covered them up again to protect them from the sun and left them for our neighbors to dig.
Mark Bee, one of our beekeepers, arrived for our bee workshop.

The "arts and crafts" portion of the presentation.
Jill is tucking popsicle sticks in the
groove of the honey frame, to encourage
the bees to build up-and-down combs. 

Mark brought along a list of flowers and
herbs that we can plant to help our bees.
I was happy to see that we already
have many of these flourishing in our garden.

Mark had a smoker that he
used to help keep the bees calm.

First, he removed the top lid of the hive.

You can see the bees have been building honeycomb
all over the inside of their hive, including the lid!

He showed us several of the frames, filled
entirely with comb, honey, and hundreds of bees. 

Joe was the only one of us brave enough to get
close to the hive and taste some of the honey.
He said it was really good!

Another frame, this time from the "super" … an extra
level added to the hive about two months ago.

Mark rebuilds the hive, adding a second
large box and putting the super above.
He also added a tray with water up top,
both to provide hydration to the bees
and to help keep the hive cool.

The hive, rebuilt with the new
additions and covered up again. 

 Mark talked about some bee biology, history, and care, and very patiently answered all our questions. Then he took apart and rebuilt the hive with two extra levels. The bees hummed and circled curiously, but nobody got stung. It was so encouraging to see the frames filled with all the comb and honey that our bees have made from the the flowers in our garden!

To make sure the bees have the best chance of surviving our typically harsh winter, there won't be a honey harvest this year… but we all agreed the bees have certainly earned their keep with all their efforts to pollinate our plots.

Many thanks to the gardeners who showed up to help out this month, and to Mark Bee for his work with our hive.

The next workday will be Saturday, September 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Our noon workshop will be on vermiculture led by gardener Megan Wentz. Learn how to create rich and valuable compost through the winter in your own kitchen, with the help of worms!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so sorry I missed it! I hadn't even noticed the bee hives; I'll have to look for them next time I'm in the garden.