Thursday, April 28, 2011

swarm call #4

Site Location: Rancho Cordova
Swarm Location: 6 feet up a tree on a branch (perfect)
Time invested in collection: 45 min on site; 45 min driving (total 1.5 hours)

This swarm was combined with my weak overwinter hive (hiveA) last night.
Hypothesis: combining the swarm will increase the population of the weak hiveA. expected results include: increased honey flow from this hive/swarm mix versus other 2 colonies which are swarm only.

Notes: HiveC, is a combination of 2 swarms one small one & one medium. Both swarms combined into hiveC were established within a week of each other ~April5, April9 (from collections in Natomas - Bill Bird). HiveB was another swarm collected March 27th (I think) from Bill Bird in Natomas. HiveB, is a single strong swarm. All hives have been consistently fed sugar water on a 2:1 ratio.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tomato transplants

Today was the day to transplant tomatoes. Things went pretty smoothly this year until I realized I used the acronym BB for 3 types of tomatoes: better boy, bloody butcher and big beef. Luckily, I had written down what I planed in each flat, so determining what was what wasn't very difficult. Too bad I didn't think of this before I move stuff around. Luckily, I caught this before finishing Big Beef (the last one). So, there is only a 50/50 chance that BB is better boy or bloody butcher. Normally, I write down the days to maturity on all seedlings too (as seen below). But I lapsed. So we are stuck with a 50/50 shot here. Every year will get better. So, I'm looking forward to next year. Oops!

+-------------------------------
| Flat 1
+-------------------------------
| Name -- Days
+-------------------------------
Early Wonder -- 55
Early Girl -- 52
Sun Gold -- 57
Bloody Butcher -- 55
Sugary -- 60
Polpig -- 55-60

+-------------------------------
| Flat 2
+-------------------------------
Sweet Million -- 65
Big Beef -- 73
Champion -- 70
Isis Lady -- 67 (2 of 6 propogated)
Striped Cherry -- 70
Super Fantastic -- 70

+-------------------------------
| Flat 3
+-------------------------------
Cherokee Purple -- 80
First Light Hybrid -- 76
Lillians Heirloom -- 90
Black -- 80-85
Japanese Black Triefel-- 85
Ananas Noir -- 80 (2 of 6 propogated)


+-------------------------------
| Flat 4
+-------------------------------
Better Boy -- 75
Black Seaman -- 75
Black Zebra -- 75
Zebra Cherry -- 70
Sweet Million -- 65 (duplicate planting)

Flor De Oro Apiary

One of the most experienced beekeepers I know is a guy who lives across the street from me. This gentlemen has decades experience in the bizz and knows all the buzz. The best part is he's eager to offer advice. So when I called him yesterday talking bee's he was willing to provide some keen insight. It seems that the one hive that failed was probably due to the small swarm size that simply didn't build up enough resources before the winter hit. The population wasn't big enough & they most likely starved out. A hive with no honey made this pretty obvious, when I opened it. But until this conversation, the mystery remained. It's great to live in the country.

As an added bonus, the B man on my A list, said he would call me if he got any swarm calls. He's too busy to get to the swarms. So this is a great potential boost to the startup of my apiary. It's almost time to come up with a creative name, like naked ladies apiary.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Potato Pals

Sam (6) & Jacob (4) helped cut the seed potato's early this morning. Sam kept trying to cut with the flat edge & Jacob was dutifully correcting. It was pretty funny to watch. We have the Blue & yellow fin seed potato's from peaceful valley. I found a good article from Mother Earth News about planting potato's. We'll be using the stout method, with our composted chicken manure & bedding (pine shavings & straw). This stuff is at the turning point with only bits of the straw remaining identifiable, which should add good aeration for the potato's. Straw, for those of you who may not already know, takes forever to compost.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

seedlings planted

Tomato seedlings were planted on 2/14 (last night)-- truly the best V-Day in history. I changed my process to water from the bottom and spray the tops to moisten the soil. Then I closed the grow trays to let the humidity & absorption go to work. All heat mats & lights are working, and the lights came on with the timer this AM. Life is good.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Tomato pr0n




Tomato's are looking good this year. I got started about a month earlier and finally gave in to the ghost, and added miracle gro. Now they look outstanding! I have approximately 180 of 23 varieties. I still need to post the variety types and descrption.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Re-birth of Aloe vera seedlings

Apparently, aloe vera doesn't need much attention. I had given up on the seedlings I thought I killed. Just as I was about to throw the lot of 50 away, I noticed that they were starting to turn from purple to green again. It's possible that the light/water ratio was too high initially. So I've moved these to a lower light level in the bakers rack. I think I might keep the water level the same for all of them, to test 1 thing at a time.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sacramento Succulent and Cactus Society

They meet on 4th monday of every month not the 5th. Glad I called in advance.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A.Vera seeds starting to sprout.

Nearly 2 weeks ago I planted the Aloe vera hybrid seeds that were given to me by my mother-in-law. I can see sprouts now. If these free seeds work out well, I may try propagating more succulents. Maybe I'll have a wacky rock garden on the side of the house which has no irrigation. Also the Aloe vera clone I yanked out of the ground has done well. This is on the easy list of plants to clone/propagate and that's good right now. Next, rhododendrons and azaleas.

Successful clones
-----------------
mints - spearament, chocolate, etc. Super easy to take root divisions or cuttings or anything else. I started with this one and would suggest using these fast growing plants or coleus to practice with in the beginning.
lavendar - agustifolia, intermedia, & spanish ( could be stoechas or dentata )
coleus - multiple unknown species. this is a very easy plant!
Succulents & cacti listed in other posts.


used
----
rockwool with lemon to bring ph down to 6.0
Coir: a coconut husk & castings & potting soil
earth juice rooting hormone
small containers for soil mix
light and temp control -- indoors under florescent grow lights


Goal
-----
Accumulate species that do well in the area to multiply and thrive to ensure future gardening successes. this will also allow for an inexpensive recovery from failures. Provide a cheap rotation since mints and herbs take over containers, extraction and division can be used to keep a healthy rotation thriving.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Size doesn't matter


Size doesn't matter in gardening. Due to space limitations, and a puppy, everything is grown in pots, in the front yard. Bottom left to right: recent cuttings ->established coleus + other clones. What you won't see, until they bloom, are the sunflowers which reside in the flower garden.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

more plant starts from sue

Cuttings from Sue Lopez:
--------------------------
- Pelargonium robertianum (geranium)
- Sempervivum Tectorum
(hens and chicks)
- Schlumbergera bridgesii (christmas tree cactus) -- blooms during winter!
- santolina chamaecyparissus (gray santolina)
- chenopodium ambrosioides(epazote) -- used in mexican cooking and tea
- Crassula rupestris ( donkey tail )
- unknown succulent (TBD)
- Thymus citriodorus (lemon thyme) -- verigated


Friday, June 26, 2009

El Dorado County Fair -- herbs

The El Dorado County Fair turned out to be a great stop after getting a brief lecture on plant propagation from a "wise" woman. Funny thing was she had cuttings from plants that I have recently begun to explore. Salvia plants offer a great way to contrast the garden with different leaf shapes, colors and texture which can add a cool depth effect when applied properly.

Picked up S. greggii and S.clevelandii to compliment my growing herb collection. Also got a great cutting of lavendula agustifolia which is really common around here. So common that it's really not worth buying when you can just get a pinch from here or there. Now I just need to find some lavendula dentata -- this plant has distinct leaves and a great flower that punctures the background.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What's the big diff?





Here's the big diff. The plants are looking pretty good after all that I put them through. The foliar growth of those on the left is comparable to those on the right -- and remember the pics on the left had 2 days (TWO) of no light and shot up. This is a great picture of the difference in the size of the leaves, which are larger in the ones on the right. With regular watering though these plants are doing much better than the previous batch. So the seedlings are very susceptible to underwatering which causes leaf yellowing. But this is still fairly early on. So, I'm still waiting to see how these perform for the long run. 

Now the meter...umm...I don't think it works. The soaked plants from outside were reading in the middle of the "moist" range so I got curious -- what would the meter read if it was in water? Water is apparently in the middle of the moist range too -- not wet like I would expect water to be. The pH was the same so I decided to test the wet clay soil outside....humm same. The potted soil in a 8 year old Japanese maple and 1 year pomogranate had a slight pH change (+0.5). I think this was $$ not well spent. But I am hopeful that other meters will have better results. I just need to find a good one not a cheap one from Home Depot.

plant protective services


This is my admitted neglect for my plants over the past couple of days. They brought this on themselves -- they deserved it! Besides these are outdoor plants and I need to teach them to be tough..so...umm...ya it's for their own good. And who are you to judge? So, I brought tomatoes back inside and treated them to light and the warmth of the house.  

Thursday, April 23, 2009

seeds sprout + tools

The seedlings came up fast and furious w/in a 2 day period starting Sunday 4/19, except for the peppers. Previously, the peppers took about 2 weeks longer than the tomatoes to sprout. I'm interested to see if the soil temperature will change this.

Also I invested in new gadget that measures pH, light, and moisture levels. This is a HOLD ALL two pronged...thingy that I have no other device to compare it to. Current readings are below:

Moisture: 4 ( 0 = dry, 10 = wet)
Light: 600 ( 0-2000, dark-light)
pH: 7 slightly alkaline

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pudding proof



So the proof is in the pudding or the pictures. These pictures show how well the plants have grown the past couple of weeks in their new containers with the soil amendment (alfalfa meal). The one in the center is a beafy fella. I think his percentage of alfalfa was higher than some of the others.

In response to this wonderful growth I decided to start a new batch of seedlings -- because I can. These guys are starting off in the same soil with better lights, and amendment, in an effort to test the delayed lighting I had in the beginning, one watering error, and the amended soil. A second batch has been started in a small plastic container -- a lettuce container -- with only one set of peat pots and no amendment. This batch will be raised with the same loving care but should test the effectiveness of alfalfa meal on seedlings. I believe there is a time to release/decomposition of alfalfa meal in the soil and I need to look this up. All other conditions will remain the same while testing out these variables.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Plants be gone

So I handed off my tomato seedlings last week after repotting them the week prior. I kept a couple to myself and found that the repotting worked fabulously with a little something called alfalfa meal. I used the same crummy soil that was used to grow the seedlings in the peat pots but added about 1 Quart of alfalfa to a 5 gallon mix of soil, while this was probably too much it did the job. The seedlings I kept seem to have responded very well in the last week. Oh I would be skeptical too if I hadn't also tested 2 transplants with the non-alfalfa soil. These malnurished seedlings are still small and weak looking like a little girlie man, to quote our govenator. So using Arnold and my seedlings as proof I can only concluded that suppliments work....natural ones of course.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Succulents


Succulents have grown on me over the past couple of years. I never really got into them until I moved to this house which had some well established aloe vera plants that bloomed. Sue my gardening friend had never seen aloe vera bloom, hence the pictures. So Sue if you see this picture you can see the bloom and that the donkey tail you gave me is not doing so well -- this is partially due to two curious midgets that love to pick at things. Only time will tell if this plant will survive. I have a feeling the only way to give this plant a fighting chance is to teach the kids not to pick at Daddies plants -- or else! :-)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Good, Bad & the Ugly





Half of the tomato seedlings look good. The other half, which had 2 weeks w/o lighting, look ugly. I have ordered another set of seeds from totally tomatoes which should be here next week. This should give the seedlings about a 4 week head start beyond those seeds that would normally be planted after all danger of frost has past. If you are a farmer fred fan you would know April 28th well. Only time will tell how these new seedlings will perform.

Thanks garry for the the cool website and seeds I'll get the next set started the right way.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tea -- not the drinkin' kind

So, among a few other supplies I also picked up earth worm castings to make tea to help add some good stuff for the seedlings and a few other plants around the house. After talking with the shaggy greefire dude -- yes dude is the best noun I can think of right now -- I was conviced that my former unmentionable methods of concocting poo tea had room for improvement.

new method

  • 1 small bag of poo <-- your choice but I prefer earthworm castings for several reasons including the fact that they have a fairly simple digestive system and add much to the soil. Plus castings just seem less icky, which is a big plus when making tea in a project room in the house.
  • 1 5Gallon bucket
  • Aquarium air pump with air stone for diffusion
  • water filled up to w/in a few inches from the top of the bucket
  • molassas for sugar content to help bactria do what they do best make more bacteria
  • TIME: 1 day -- that's enough to get the bacterial content up w/o mass murdering the little suckers

Okay so I will say this, I was wasting too much time.

But don't believe my ramblings

Compost Tea as Easy as 1,2,3

Mellow Yellow Has Always Been Bad






Whether it's yellow people or yellow plants it is never a good thing. Right now the seedlings are suffering from a yellowing which started around March 4th (img_2478ed.jpg). Tomato seedlings can suffer from yellowing for several reasons such as: excessive watering, inadaquate water, malnutrition -- typically a lack of Nitrogen or other micronutrients. Since I water regularly -- once a week -- I thought that this might be underwatering but after a week there was no response. So I stopped by GreenFire for some advice. A shabby, knowledgable young guy guided me to a new product. Earthjuice Microblast is packed with micronutrients and magic good stuff for plants. 

Tomato Diseases -- unhelpful for this symptom but a good link

Tomato Casual -- new favorite tomato site

Helpful Gardner -- What??? Online advice, how cool is that?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sacramento Zoo -- Garden Thing

So I went to the Sacramento zoo yesterday (3/7/2009) to check out the Blooming Crazy plant festival and sale when I met this guy working a lavender stand with his grandson, which I thought was pretty cool. Being a herb enthusiast but not really knowing much, I asked him what the difference was between English and French lavender. This one question sparked a 20 minute conversation that filled my head with dreams of lavender fields. I plan on visiting his lavender fields in April when my niece comes to visit to see the peak of the Spanish lavender bloom. Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to join the lavender 101 class!

The Lavender Farm in Lincoln, California

Psst --> wife <-- lavender is edible ;-)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Good Garden Stores

There are a few good gardening supply stores in Sacramento. Of these, GreenFire is one of the more specialized stores that deals primarily in hydroponic supplies. This store is one of the few places in town that you can buy everything from earthworm casting to guano, peat pots, meters, lights in various spectrums and sizes (watts), and much much more. Like a good hydroponics supply store, GreenFire has a good amount of supplies in a small facility.

Personal favorite Cocoa bean hulls -- but I love everything coffee related.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Urea is evil! EVIL!!!

Apparently urea or ammonium (NH4) is not good for indoor seedlings due to the cummulative effect that can occur. The ideal seedling fertilizer has a 2:1:2 (N:P:K) ratio. Nitrogen should be in the nitrate (NO3) form. Fertilizer should be applied once a week to seedlings that have their true leaves. I am still going to wait until they have their 2nd set of true leaves. 

-- and yes I watch too much Spongebob Squarepants!

References

Jeorgensen, Kenneth. (December 4th, 2003). Suite101.com: Choosing Seedling Fertilizers.

Janne, E. E., Roberts, R. E. (February 2001). Texas A&M University. Timely Tips on Starting Seedlings at Home.  

GOOGLE!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

seedling update







These seedlings are starting to grow fast. I am looking into using a fertilizer (bone & blood meal or something else) on a % of these to get them up to seasonal par. This requires some research though as I normally don't fertilize my seedlings. Since this is experimental, I plan on tracking the growth rates and charting the results for future use. We'll have to see if this really happens though. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Four-Season Harvest

Eliot Coleman's book Four-Season Harvest is a good read to get into the winter garden game. Coleman presents imaginative ways to overcome many seasonal limitations, which can help even the most seasonal gardener comprehend ways to extend crops. Simple graphics are detail rich enough to make Edward Tufte proud of Coleman's 30'x65' garden. As an added bonus this book clearly guides the reader through various structural designs and implementations of cold frames, tunnels and root cellars . Plus there is a good section on composting -- a must for a real gardener :-)

Coleman, Eliot. (1999). Four-Season Harvest.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pre-season gamble

This season should have never happened. My now 10 month old boxer destroyed what was growing in the garden -- all but the herbs. I fear that what is left will not withstand the lonely days when Kate is banished to the backyard. All full pots were overturned, leaving only the sad remains of once beautiful plants and functional clay pots. Discouraged, I abandoned the idea of growing anything. Until a coworker enthusiastically mentioned his plans for his garden. Grand plans were coming together for him and I could see that this was going to be a great season. So, I got excited about planting again. After mulling over my options I reluctantly talked about seedlings and how I always grow my tomatoes from seed. Come to find out he doesn't grow much from seed. So, like a good lamprey eel, I have a beneficial relationship with a guy who has a pretty sweet layout but no plants as of yet. We'll see how this works out but I am hopeful and excited again.

There may also be some room in front of the house to grow some plants but I haven't really decided what to grow there. -- maybe giant sunflowers & corn!