Beekeeping - A devastating loss

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of dead bees on frame
Photo of dead frames
Photo of frames in fire
Photo of dead bees on frame
Photo of moisture quilt

I went into winter with two of the strongest hives I've ever had. Tens of thousands of bees in each, one hive stacked two high and one stacked three high - all loaded to the gills with honey. The bees had plenty of numbers and plenty of food.

Fast forward to now. The hives are dead and moldy. They are still full of honey (but some was consumed). In each hive, about two inches of dead bees in the bottom and dead bees scattered about on the frames. Small moldy cluster in each hive.

Heading out today to pick up some chicks ...

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of ISA Brown pullets from Tractor Supply in Port Orchard, Washington

Spring is almost here and the chicks are in!!! Yay!!!! Today, I went to the Tractor Supply store in Port Orchard, Washington and picked up 8 ISA Brown pullets. I was hoping they would have the Tints again as I loved the chicks I got last year, but I'll try these. They are supposed to be prolific egg layers - laying through the winter, even. But on the downside, their life expectancy is shortened due to the energies they expend producing all those eggs.... I read they live only two to three years, five at best. So bear that in mind if you keep them as ... well, pets.

Chicken run is ready for Spring!

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of chicken run

Today I hitched up the trailer and brought home three-and-a-half yards of medium bark mulch. I spread it about a foot thick in the chicken run and also in the coop, having recently removed a yard or two of composted organic matter from the run for the lawns and gardens. I can't believe I did all this in five hours, start to finish - with my bad leg, to boot... The chickens are delighted and the whole area smells much better now... :)

Put those leaves to good use!

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of leaves between raised beds

It used to be that winter, to me, was just something to suffer through - something that had to be endured while the equinox and solstice came and went and the season started ramping up early in the next year.

Now, though, I have a found a new gardening-related love: composting!

I've posted pictures and information about my very healthy compost pile on this site, but I'm now also composting-in-place in my raised bed gardens and using ground cover to prevent weeds and enhance the soil, as well.

Dehydrating Holiday goodies!

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of banana chips ready for the dehydrator

The gardens are dormant now, but as for me, I'm NEVER dormant!

While shopping at Albertsons, I found bananas on sale for .59 cents a pound. I bought four huge bunches of them. Once home, I prepared them for the dehydrator and it do its magic overnight..

Now I have four Ziploc bags full of banana chips! I am planning on using that dehydrator a lot between now and Christmas as I aim to provide healthier snacks for myself and my family.

Happy Holidays!

We'll be eating October brussels sprouts!

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of Brussels Sprouts

This is my first year to ever grow Brussels sprouts and I'm going to have a huge harvest! These were started back in April and put out into raised beds in May. Conventional wisdom is that that is a bit early, but this year it just worked out. Here, the sun came out right after a rain and I grabbed my camera to get a picture. Now I'm just going to have to stare at the picture until I can get out to start the harvest!!!

How to make a moisture quilt for your beehive

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of installed moisture quilt
Photo of burlap in frame

Here in the Pacific Northwest, winters aren't nearly as cold as they are in other parts of the country, but rain is constant throughout the season, making condensation a real problem inside beehives. Condensation can form beneath the top or inner cover and drip down on the winter cluster, killing bees that otherwise may have well survived the winter.

Harvesting and canning tomatoes ... still!

Submitted by jimwcoleman
Photo of tomatoes with peppers
Photo of good tomato harvest
Photo of tomatoes

Here are three different photos of the tomatoes I have brought in on three different days recently. Many (if not most) of the tomatoes never ripened on the vine, so I brought them into the house, put them in shallow boxes, put a ripe banana in each box and covered the boxes with newspaper. It took a while, but they are turning all at once, and that's keeping me busy!

In one of the photos, you can see the (mostly) Serrano peppers that I harvested today, as well. Lots and lots of canning going on here!