I took down three more trees this weekend. This is part of the “Middle House Garden: Revitalization” project. As part of this project, I need to remove a series of trees that are sapping the nutrients from the garden and stunting the growth of vegetables there. I cut one a couple of weeks ago that led to the infamous “Scratched Cornea Incident” and this past Saturday I took down another three.
My Dad called me yesterday and said that my Grandmother’s main hive (I call it the #1 hive) had very little activity compared to the #2 hive. Today I called him back and said that if he had the time we need to take a look inside. I was a lazy beekeeper this year a left empty super on but when we opened the hive, there was still a reasonable amount o
Mmmmm! Ummy, scrunchous bio-char. I started this burn a couple of weeks ago and I had to stop abruptly to go to the optometrist. (Here is the story on Homestead Safety) Today I had a couple of hours so I decided to finish it off.
In the past, I've grown Fordhook Lima beans as the exclusive and offical Lima bean of the SC Homestead. This year, I decided to try the Dixie Butterpea varity on a whim and here are my initial findings:
I've already talked briefly about the Better Boy tomatoes at the MH Garden. The reason that I put the Better Boys WAAAY over there (where I can't water them very often) is that I have Money Maker tomatoes at the Home Garden. For those of you who do not know, Money Maker tomatoes are a heirloom tomato that produces a relatively large (for heirloom), tasty fruit.
I've grown the Money Makers before with mixed results (more on that later) but this is the first time that I have plan to carried the seed over to next year and I did not want the heirloom Money Maker cross pollinating with the hybrid Better Boys.
This year, for the second year, I am growing two types of tomatoes. Money Maker (Heirloom) and Better Boy (Hybrid). I wanted to separate the two so that they don't cross. I have the Money Makers planted and the home garden so I planted the Better Boys at the Middle House Garden. The MH garden is over 500 yards away so I shouldn't have any cross pollination unless I have some VERY active bees.
My bees were put in place on April the 20th. Since then, I've added a screened bottom board, queen excluder and a shallow super. I've also bought a new inner cover and top. The original bottom board, inner cover and top were borrowed from my grandmother. The the picture, you will see that they are hanging out on the front of the hive. That's because on June 4th (the date the picture was taken) the temp was 97°F. Even with a screen bottom board, the house bees were kicking the foragers out to the porch.
As part of my 5 year plan, the main crops this year are Cron, Green Beans and Lima Beans. I planted 2 50ft rows of Green Beans and Lima Beans in early April. Two weeks later, I planted 2 more 50 ft rows. Two weeks later I planted 4 75 ft rows of corn and 2 30 ft rows or okra. The okra didn't make and I plowed it up a few weeks later. Two weeks after the corn, I planted 4 75 ft rows of Green Beans and 2 75 ft rows of okra.
If you look closely at this picture, you will see the tale-tale sign of the most cursed GROUND HOG. A ground ho has eaten nearly everyone of my 75ft rows of Green Beans. Some are okay but it will take a couple of more days to find out how many seeds were just late coming up. Both my Dad and my Brother are also having Ground Hog issues. My Dad has set up a very low electric fence but this garden is no where near an outlet and solar units are pricey.
With special help from my Dad and my Brother-in-law, the chicken coop has a roof. ...well it has half of a roof.
The other half will come this weekend. Those of you with a keen eye for detail will notice the windows in the foreground. They will go tow to a side once the walls are clad. In the background are some cardboard boxes waiting to go into the garden.
Okay, I need to bring everyone up to speed on our Chicken Project.
The goal of the chicken project is to have 4 or 5 laying hens continually and 10 - 25 broilers on an as needed basis. We will start out buying chicks and raising them; both for laying and broilers but I want to transition to breeding our own which will mean getting a rooster but he will come onto the scene later on. These first two issues mean that we will need a large chicken coop. This "large" is large for a personal type chicken coop, not "industrial large". The coop should also need division so that we can divide them between layers and broilers or hens and rooster should either situation be needed.
Since we want to start out with laying hens and transition to breeding our own broilers, we will need a breed of chicken that is good for both eggs and meat. We also need a friendly bird. These chickens will be part or a larger unit (our family) so they will need to have the temperament to get along with other animals. The chickens should also be a fairly common breed. we will need to occasionally inject some new blood into our flock and I don't want to have to search to find a rare bread of chicken only to find a very limited gene pool.