07 July 2007

Beehive news, gardening, and more

Here is a cool QuickTime video I took with my cell phone today out at the hive. Hope you can see it. The bees were trying to get something out of their hive -- looked like chewed up wax paper or something? It was blocking most of the entrance to the hive. They were making slow but steady progress in pulling it apart and getting it out of there.
Looking at it closer, I think it was some remnants from a feed packet I had given them earlier. I ended up putting on a rubberized glove (they don't like too much messing with the front entrance of the hive) and pulled all of it out for them. They were still working very hard to dismantle whatever the foreign object was, though, even after it was laying out in the grass in the yard.

Finally decided on a colour to paint the hive. There is a gorgeous mallow tree plant (similar to a hollyhock) growing in the yard with beautiful bright pink blooms. Took one of the blooms to the paint store and had it matched! :) Painting bits and pieces of new hive pieces to switch out for them so they don't have to deal with drying paint, fumes, etc.

I've also been having fun with gardening lately. Added a bunch of lovely colour plants to my containers on the front steps of the house... petunias, dianthus, geraniums, lobelia, and more. Also have more plants to add to a hanging basket outside the back door.

My latest idea, though, is a pumpkin patch. In reading up on this, it looks like I should have started it 3 weeks ago, but I'm going to try it anyway. If all else fails, I will have learned a few things so I can try again next year. Built an 8'x8' raised garden bed with cherrytone timbers as the edges. Put in 8 cubic feet of organic potting soil (GreenAll brand) -- good stuff, but kinda spendy. Plan to go to a discount store tomorrow (probably WalMart) and get some cheaper soil to add to it.

I've found 5 pumpkin varieties I want to try. May end up being rather cramped, but I'll try it. You plant pumpkin seeds inside hills or mounds of dirt (soil). Going to try one hill in each corner of the 8'x8' box, and then a 5th mound in the middle. The 5 varieties are all heirloom:
1. Small Sugar (7" diameter) from Territorial Seed Company (got it at the local country farm store, Sunny Farms).
2. Small White Striped (3" diameter).
3. Orange Peanut (up to 20 lbs.).
4. Cinderella (up to 20 lbs.).
5. Rouge vif d'Etamps (15 lbs.) - old French heirloom introduced to America in the 1880s.
The last 4 were purchased from eBay, and I hope they'll be here any day. From what I've read, I understand that they will likely be rather cramped in only an 8'x8' space, but I think the vines can spill out around the box OK... and I plan to prune it back to try and train it, too. Even if each plant only produces 1 or 2 pumpkins, I'll be pleased! Going to all put in trellises and utilise as much vertical space as possible.

Reading up on companion planting and natural pest control, I'm going to put in marigolds, nasturtiums, catnip, and radishes in the same area, too.

If all that weren't enough, we pulled up all the carpet out of the living room and dining room last weekend. Underneath, we found the original fir wood floors. Fir is *not* a hardwood, but it is still very nice. There are some dark spots and light spots to be evened out, but no major gashes. The tack strips around the edges are proving a bit difficult to pull up, but it's getting there. They also put down some kind of gummy adhesive that I'm trying to remove with some goo-be-gone kind of solution. For the blemishes, I started with trying to sand it by hand with sandpaper. That became quite tedious (even for me!!), so broke down today and bought a little palm sander with a bag on it to catch the sawdust... we'll see if that helps!! :)

'Til next time!! Enjoy this beautiful summer!! :)