Sunday, May 13, 2012

Garden Miscellany


The butterflies continue to emerge from the chrysalises we over-wintered.  We have only one remaining un-hatched chrysalis.  I was tracking a caterpillar on our fennel, but lost it after it shed its skin.  I've got my eye on a few eggs, and perhaps we'll collect and raise some more caterpillars this season.

We had a few people over on Saturday.  Some friends and neighbors were interested in hosting beehives.  Some friends came over to hang out and gawk at the chickens.  We've really got to get the entire yard fenced in, because mayhem ensues when a chicken gets loose.  I'm not very good at catching chickens -- they're fast -- and I'm worried what would happen if they got into the road.  The next door neighbors are trying to rent their house, and the potential tenant must have had a strange impression, as we were chasing hens around the back yard.

The cats spend a fair amount of time, basking on top of the portable chicken "tractor."  What happens if we let our hens free-range?  Given the hunting prowess of the feral boys, I'm somewhat concerned.  (Thanks for the pigeon feathers, kitties.  I'm relieved that you didn't choose to "share" more generously.)   Does anyone have any advice about the intersection of cats and chickens?

The spring garden is heading into summer.  I planted kale seedlings, gave away what I had left over, and then the freaking snails ate everything I planted.  I may actually have to purchase kale seedlings.  The peas were a fiasco.  The snails devoured them.  Once again, my leeks were a total failure.  They bolted, and never got thicker than a pencil. Likewise, the purple salad mustard bolted in the seed trays.  Sigh.

On the other hand, the fava beans are auditioning for a role in Jack and the Beanstalk.  The plants are over eight feet tall.  We had been eating them like green beans, and finally decided to let them get big (huge -- one foot long pods) enough to eat as shelled beans.  Sadly, the recipe was a disaster, as the garlic we used overwhelmed the beans with a horrible bitter flavor.  I think we've got one more flush of beans left in these plants, and then I'll pull them out.  I can't super-decide if I'll plant favas again. They are super-vigorous, and produce beans at an off-season, but preparing shelled favas seems like more effort than it is worth.

My project of hosting beehives at neighboring yards is going well.  The Santa Rosa colony does not seem to have a laying queen.  The "queen cups" that the bees created had not hatched, as of last night.  I'll be taking some more developing brood over to this hive, to ensure that the population doesn't dwindle away to nothing.

The colony itself seems to be doing all the right things, collecting nectar and pollen, and building lovely wax comb.  In this photo, the bees have totally ignored the wax foundation we gave them as a guide, and are following their own instincts.

I think I may have found homes for all of our excess bee.  Almost all of them are within walking distance, which simplifies matters.  

There's lots more going on, but I'm out of photos, and want to get back outside.

What's going on in your neck of the woods?


Stefaneener said...

Lisa!! Come get a queen! I have two spares. Let's talk.

Kurious Jo said...

We have stray cats around -hungry stray cats, when I don't feed them- and never had a problem. I've heard the warnings, been concerned, steered cats away from the chicken yard . . . but someone wrote that they only go for the little chickens and I'm inclined to believe that. They could get over or through our fences if they want too.

Anonymous said...

When your chickens are old enough to start eating layer feed, they will also be large enough to survive the boys hunting skills. Our barn cats are very interested in the peeps and pullets, but give the adult free range hens no notice at all. One peck and they learn to avoid them. Ours don't hunt together though. Do your boys do team work hunting, or every man for himself?


Anonymous said...

Lisa, my neighbor just started a hive! I am giving him the link to your blog, if you don't mind. :)
~Donna/Tempus Fugit

Anne Bonny said...

Beautiful pics! I heard a whole segment on NPR about bee's. It was very informative. There's so much I didn't know about bee's! They're quite awesome little things!

Kate said...

I grew fava beans too... once. They were supposed to be a cover crop but we waited too long to till them in. They just tangled up in the tiller blades. The black-and-white blossoms are so pretty. If I grew them again it would be for the flowers.

Rabid Quilter from CA said...

The Sacramento Bee recently had Fava beans featured. Here are a couple of recipes in case you want to try another dish:


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