Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Tanzanian Top Bar Hive

I placed the hive in the back of the garden area surrounded by eleven fruit tree's.


The hive with lid that hangs over the entrance. The lid is a layer of plywood and then the metal. Right now it sits on the top bars, but I am changing that next time I check on them. It will then sit off of them a little bit to provide some dead air space for insulation.

The two on top show how I made my top bars. They are the triangle design with melted wax along the tip of the triangle. The four slats on the left are covering the langstroth frames that I used to transfer the bee's. They have slats in them that the bee's could get through if I didn't cover them. And about three bars over from these slats you can see (through the hole) the follower board I use to keep the hive small until they build up to a stronger colony.

Here you can see the entrance feeder and my super high tech entrance reducer. In this case it was an old stake or something that was laying there when I put the hive up. To change the size of the entrance I just pull the stake to the left.

This shows how I attached the follower board to a top bar. I chopped a little off of the bar so that it would remain the same dimensions as the others.

First Comb From The Top Bar Hive

Here is a short video clip of the first comb that the bee's have drawn in my top bar hive. It is neat to see the bee's festooning (hanging on each other) while making the comb.

I transferred the bee's from their nuc hive in four standard langstroth frames. I built this top bar hive to be compatible with the langstroth frames for this reason. The bee's have been busy filling up these four frames and finally started building comb on the top bar. Besides the top bar in this video, there is one other that has some comb on it.

video

Monday, April 13, 2009

Beekeeping Demo at The Honey Store (Noyes Apiariers)


On Saturday a good buddy and I made a trip down to Fruitland to pick up a couple nucs and see a beekeeping demo put on by the Noyes. The weather cooperated enough for about 50 beekeepers, many from the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club, to enjoy the day.

I'm about to transfer my two nucs into their hives today. One will go into our Langstroth hive and the other into a nice top bar hive that another friend and I made.

I will post the results of this soon with some photos.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Vegetable Planting and Seed Saving Instructions

This information comes directly off of www.seedsavers.org.

http://www.seedsavers.org/Content/instructions.htm

Vegetable Planting and Seed Saving Instructions

Arugula - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors just beneath the surface of the soil as soon as the soil can be worked and the danger of a hard frost has past. For a continuous supply, seed a new row every three weeks throughout the summer.
Seed Saving: Arugulas will cross-pollinate. Separate varieties by ¼ mile. Allow plants to bolt and form seed stalks. Seedheads may need to be protected from bird damage and rain when drying on the plants. Seeds are produced over a 2-3 week period and will require repeated harvesting.
Beans - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors after the danger of frost has past and the soil and air temperatures are warm. Plant seeds 1" deep and 2" apart in rows 24" to 36" apart. Pole beans will need support. Snap varieties will produce abundantly if kept well picked throughout the summer.
Saving Seed: Bean flowers are self-pollinating and almost never cross-pollinate. As a precaution never plant two white seeded varieties side-by-side if you intend to save seed because crossing may occur but not be visible. It is always best to save seed from plants that ripen first and are free from disease. Harvest seed pods when completely dry, crush in a cloth or burlap sack and winnow the seeds from the chaff.
Beet - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors in the spring, 6-8 seeds per foot ½" deep in rows 20-24" apart. Minimum soil temperature must be 40° F.
Saving Seed: Biennial. Beets will cross-pollinate. Varieties must be separated by ½ mile from other beets the second year when going to seed. Beets are fairly frost tolerant and will overwinter in mild climates if well mulched. In northern climates trim leaves to 2" and store roots in slightly damp sawdust or sand in a root cellar over the winter. Roots store 4-6 months at 32-40° F. Replant in the spring and harvest seed heads when dry.
Broccoli - Planting: Sow indoors ¼" deep in pots or flats 8 weeks before the last frost. Thin seedlings when 2" tall and transplant into individual pots. Plant outdoors 24" apart in rows 36" apart when a light frost is still possible.
Saving Seed: Biennial. Broccoli will cross-pollinate with all other Brassica oleracea, so isolate by 1 mile the second year when going to seed. Do not harvest heads on plants you intend to save for seed. Carefully dig the plants and pot them in sand. Store plants between 32-40° F. Plant back out in early spring and allow to bolt. Harvest seed pods when dry and clean by hand.
Carrots - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors in the early spring 3-4 weeks before the last frost or as soon as the soil can be worked. Sow seeds ¼” deep making sure to firmly press soil against the seeds for good soil contact. Keep moist for optimal germination. Thin to 1-4” depending on the size of mature carrots.
Saving Seed: Biennial. Carrots will cross-pollinate, so isolate ¼ mile from other carrots and Queen Anne’s Lace the second year when going to seed. Dig up carrots in the fall before a hard frost. Trim the tops to 1” and store roots in slightly damp sawdust, sand or leaves in a root cellar over the winter. Replant in the spring and harvest seed heads when dry.
Cauliflower - Planting: Sow indoors ¼" deep in pots or flats 8 weeks before the last frost. Thin seedlings when 2" tall and transplant into individual pots. Plant outdoors 24" apart in rows 36" apart when a light frost is still possible.
Seed Saving: Biennial. Cauliflower will cross-pollinate with all other Brassica oleracea, so isolate by 1 mile the second year when going to seed. Do not harvest heads on plants you intend to save for seed. Carefully dig the plants and pot them in sand. Store plants between 32-40° F. Plant back out in early spring and allow to bolt. Harvest seed pods when dry and clean by hand.
Cabbage - Planting: Sow indoors ¼" deep in pots or flats 8 weeks before the last frost. Thin seedlings when 2" tall and transplant into individual pots. Plant outdoors 24" apart in rows 36" apart when a light frost is still possible.
Seed Saving: Biennial. Cabbage will cross-pollinate with all other Brassica oleracea, so isolate by 1 mile the second year when going to seed. Do not harvest heads on plants you intend to save for seed. Carefully dig the plants and pot them in sand. Store plants between 32-40° F. Plant back out in early spring and allow to bolt. Harvest seed pods when dry and clean by hand.
Corn - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors only after the danger of frost has passed. Corn will not germinate properly when the soil is still cold in the spring. Sow seeds 1" deep every 3-4" in rows 3-4' apart. Thin the seedlings to 8" apart after the plants come up. Corn should be planted in a 3-4 row block (instead of one long row) to ensure well filled-out ears.
Saving Seed: All corn varieties are wind-pollinated and will cross-pollinate with each other. Varieties should be hand-pollinated or isolated by 1 mile to ensure purity. Allow ears to dry on the plants, harvest and shell.
Cucumbers - Planting: Sow 6-8 seeds outdoors 1" deep in 12" diameter hills spaced 6' apart each way a week after the last frost when soil is warm. Pinch off all but 3-4 of the strongest seedlings. Can be started indoors in pots or flats 3-4 weeks before the last frost for an earlier harvest.
Saving Seed: Cucumbers will cross-pollinate, so isolate ¼ mile from other cucumbers. Fruits for seed should ripen past edible stage and begin to soften and turn yellow. Cut lengthwise, scoop out seeds, wash clean and dry. Seeds are dry when they break instead of bending.
Eggplant - Planting: Start seedlings indoors 6 weeks before the last frost. Thin seedlings when 2" tall and transplant into individual pots. Transplant outdoors 24" apart in rows 36" apart. Using landscape cloth or black plastic can accelerate growth and productivity in cooler climates.
Seed Saving: Eggplants will cross-pollinate, so isolate ¼ mile from other eggplants or plant in insect-proof cages covered with screen. Let the fruits grow far past maturity. Seeds are much easier to remove from overripe fruits. Most seeds are brown and are usually located in the bottom portion of the fruit.
Gourds - Planting: In mild climates sow seeds outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Northern growers may need to start seedlings indoors 3-4 weeks before the last frost. Plant 6-8 seeds 1" deep in 12" diameter hills spaced 6-8' each way.
Saving Seed: Hard-shelled gourds will cross-pollinate, so isolate 1/4 mile away from other L. siceraria or hand pollinate. When dry, the gourds can be broken or cut open and the seeds separated from the dry pulp. Dry and wet gourd pulp can irritate skin and the respiratory tract. Use caution when cleaning seed.
Kale- Planting: Sow indoors ¼" deep in pots or flats 8 weeks before the last frost. Thin seedlings when 2" tall and transplant into individual pots. Plant outdoors 24" apart in rows 36" apart when a light frost is still possible.
Saving Seed: Biennial. Kale will cross-pollinate with all other Brassica oleracea, so isolate by 1 mile the second year when going to seed. Do not harvest heads on plants you intend to save for seed. Carefully dig the plants and pot them in sand. Store plants between 32-40° F. Plant back out in early spring and allow to bolt. Harvest seed pods when dry and clean by hand.
Lettuce - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors ¼" deep and 1" apart. Thin to 8" apart for looseleaf and 12" for head lettuce. Does well when soil temperature is below 80° F., try to avoid planting in the middle of summer. Keep soil moist for up to two weeks after planting.
Saving Seed: There is only a slight chance of cross-pollination between lettuces. As a precaution separate by 25' from other varieties that are going to seed. Allow plants to bolt and form seed stalks. Seedheads may need to be protected from bird damage and rain when drying. Seeds are produced over a 2-3 week period and will require repeated harvesting.
Lima Beans - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors after the danger of frost has passed and the soil and air temperatures have warmed. Plant seeds 1" deep and 2" apart in rows 36-48" apart.
Seed Saving: Lima beans will cross with other limas, but not common garden beans, Phaseolus vulgaris. To ensure absolute purity, isolate from other blooming varieties by 1 mile. It is always best to save seed from plants that ripen first and are free from disease. Harvest seed pods when completely dry, crush in a cloth or burlap sack and winnow the seeds from the chaff.
Melons - Planting: Best when direct seeded in warm soil after the danger of frost has passed. Plant 6-8 seeds 1" deep in 12" diameter hills spaced 6' apart each way. After germination pinch off all but 3-4 of the strongest seedlings.
Saving Seed: Melons will cross-pollinate, so isolate ¼ mile from other “melons” (cantaloupes, muskmelons, honeydew, snake melon and Armenian cucumbers will all cross). Always save seeds from disease-free, early ripening melons. Wash seeds from ripe melons in a strainer and dry. Seeds are ready to store when they break instead of bend.
Okra - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors ½-1" deep when the soil temperature has warmed. Okra thrives in warm weather and should only be planted in full sun. Plants should be thinned to 6-8" after germination. Okra will produce abundantly if kept well picked.
Seed Saving: Okra's large decorative blossoms are cross-pollinated by insects very easily. Varieties can be kept pure by covering blossoms with cloth bags before they open, or you can isolate varieties by 1 mile from each other. Allow the okra pods to turn brown and dry on the plant. Harvest before seedpods split open enough to drop seeds onto ground.
Onion - Planting: Start seedlings indoors 4-6 weeks before transplanting. Sow seeds in flats ¼" deep and spaced 1" in all directions. Transplant as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring.
Seed Saving: Biennial. Onions cross-pollinate and should be isolated by 1 mile from other onions going to seed. Select only the best bulbs for seed. Bulbs store 3-6 months at 32-45° F. Plant out bulbs in early spring and allow them to form seed heads. When the heads start to dry, cut off, dry further and thresh.
Peas - Planting: Peas can be sown as soon as the soil can be prepared in the spring. Sow seeds ½" to 1" deep with 3" between seeds in rows 24" apart. Climbing peas will need support. Double rows can be planted on each side of a trellis. Peas thrive in cool weather.
Saving seed: Peas should be separated by 50' to ensure pure seed. Select the healthiest plants for seed. Allow pods to dry on the plant before harvesting and separate seeds from pods by hand. If birds start eating the seeds before the pods are completely dry, they can be harvested slightly green and brought indoors to dry.
Peppers - Planting: Start seedlings indoors 8 weeks before transplanting. Sow seeds ¼" deep. Keep soil moist and near 80° F. using bottom heat. Peppers may take two weeks to germinate. Transplant outdoors when daytime soil temperatures are near 80° F. and nighttime temperatures are above 50° F.
Saving Seed: Peppers will cross-pollinate, so separate by at least 500' or plant in insect-proof cages covered with window screen. Select peppers that are ripe, fully colored and show no signs of disease to save for seed. Remove seeds off core and place on a paper plate to dry.
Popcorn - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors only after the danger of frost has passed. Corn will not germinate properly when the soil is still cold in the spring. Sow seeds 1" deep every 3-4" in rows 3-4' apart. Thin the seedlings to 8" apart after the plants come up. Corn should be planted in a 3-4 row block (instead of one long row) to ensure well filled-out ears.
Saving Seed: All corn varieties are wind-pollinated and will cross-pollinate with each other. Varieties should be hand-pollinated or isolated by 1 mile to ensure purity. Allow ears to dry on the plants, harvest and shell.
Radish - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors as soon as the soil can be prepared in the spring. Successive plantings can be made every 3-4 weeks throughout the summer and fall to provide a continual harvest. Seeds should be planted ½" deep and 1" apart in rows 12" apart.
Saving Seed: : Radishes will cross-pollinate and must be isolated by ½ mile or planted in insect-proof cages covered with screen. Radish seed stalks will grow up to 3' tall. Always discard the early bolting plants, since they are not the best plants to save for seed. The seed stalk is harvested when the stalk and pods are dry. Seeds can then be separated by hand.
Runner Bean - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors after the danger of frost has passed and the soil and air temperatures have warmed. Plant seeds 1" deep and 2" apart in rows 24-36" apart. Requires support.
Seed Saving: Runner beans will cross-pollinate with other runner beans. Varieties must be separated by at least ½ mile to ensure pure seed. Another option for raising pure seed is to bag the blossoms before they open with a cloth bag. It is necessary to "trip" or shake the blossoms daily to release the pollen, imitating bee activity.
Soybean - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors after the danger of frost has passed and the soil and air temperatures are warm. Plant seeds 1" deep and 2" apart in rows 24-36" apart.
Seed Saving: Soybean flowers are self-pollinating and almost never cross-pollinate. To ensure absolute purity, separate by the length of the garden from other soybeans. It is always best to save seed from plants that ripen first and are free from disease. Harvest seed pods when completely dry, crush in a cloth or burlap sack and winnow the seeds from the chaff.
Spinach - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors ½" deep and 1" apart. Spinach grows best in cool weather and should be planted early in the spring or in late summer to produce a fall crop. For best yield, harvest continually and make successive plantings every 10 days.
Saving Seed: Spinach will cross-pollinate with wind-blown pollen from other spinach varieties. Commercial seed crops are separated by 5-10 miles to ensure purity, but home gardeners can reduce that distance. Harvest seeds when they are completely dry on the plant. It may be necessary to wear leather gloves because the seeds can be very prickly.
Squash - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. Plant 6-8 seeds 1" deep in 12" diameter hills spaced 6' apart each way. Pinch off all but 3-4 of the strongest seedlings.
Saving Seed: Squash within the same species will cross-pollinate, so isolate species by ¼ mile. Seeds should be taken from fruits that have gone past maturity by 3 weeks. Remove seeds, wash and let dry. (Note: There are four species of squash: C. maxima, C. mixta, C. moschata and C. pepo. This allows you to grow four different species of squash and save pure seed in the same garden.)
Sunberry - Planting: Sow indoors ¼” deep in pots or flats 6 weeks before the last frost. Thin seedlings when 2” tall and transplant into individual pots. Plant outdoors 24” apart in rows 36” apart.
Saving Seed: Take ripe fruits and crush them in a bowl. Add water to the bowl and the seeds will sink and the skin and pulp will float. Separate the contents and wash the seeds in a strainer. Allow seeds to dry.
Swiss Chard - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors early in the spring. Plant seeds ½" deep and 4" apart in rows 20-24" apart. Thin seedlings to one every 12". Minimum soil temperature should be at least 40º F.
Saving Seed: Biennial. Varieties must be separated by ½ mile from all other Beta vulgaris when going to seed. Will overwinter in mild climates if well mulched. In northern climates trim leaves to 2" and store roots in sawdust or sand in a root cellar. Roots will store 4-6 months at 32-40° F. Replant in the spring and harvest seed heads when dry.
Tomato - Planting: Sow indoors ¼" deep in pots or flats 6 weeks before the last frost. Thin seedlings when 2" tall and transplant into individual pots. Plant outdoors 24" apart in rows 36" apart. Indeterminate vines will require support.
Saving Seed: Cross-pollination between modern tomato varieties seldom occurs, except in potato leaf varieties which should be separated by the length of the garden. Do not save seeds from double fruits or from the first fruits of large-fruited varieties. Pick at least one ripe fruit from each of several plants. Squeeze seeds and juice into a strainer and wash, spread on a paper plate and dry.
Tomatillo - Planting: Sow indoors ¼" deep in pots or flats 6 weeks before the last frost. Thin seedlings when 2" tall and transplant into individual pots. Plant outdoors 24" apart in rows 36" apart. Culture is very similar to tomatoes. Plants can be trellised to keep well contained and the fruits off of the dirt, or the plants can be allowed to sprawl on the ground.
Seed Saving: Tomatillos will not cross-pollinate. Select fully ripe fruits to save for seed. Pick at least one ripe fruit from each of several plants. Squeeze seeds and juice into a strainer and wash, spread on a paper plate and dry.
Watermelons - Planting: Sow seeds outdoors after the danger of frost. Minimum soil temperature should be at least 65º F. Plant seeds ½" deep and 2" apart, in rows 20-24" apart. Thin seedlings to one every 12". Excellent grown on black landscape cloth.
Saving Seed: Watermelons will cross-pollinate. Separate varieties by ¼ mile or hand-pollinate. Always select disease-free early maturing melons to save for seed. Remove seeds from ripe melons, thoroughly wash in a strainer and dry.
Jelly Melon - Planting: Sow 6-8 seeds outdoors 1" deep in 12" diameter hills spaced 6' apart each way a week after the last frost when soil is warm. Pinch off all but 3-4 of the strongest seedlings. Can be started indoors in pots or flats 3-4 weeks before the last frost for an earlier harvest.
Seed Saving: Jelly Melon will not cross with Cucumbers, Cucumis sativus or Melons, Cucumis melo. Fruits for seed should ripen past edible stage and begin to soften. Cut lengthwise, scoop out seeds, wash clean and dry. Seeds are dry when they break instead of bend.
Red Malabar Spinach - Planting: Sow seeds ½" deep indoors 5-6 weeks before the last frost or outdoors when the danger of frost has past. Plants should be spaced 6" apart. Do not plant before air temperatures are consistently between 70 and 80 degrees. For best yield, harvest continually.
Seed Saving: Malabar Spinach will not cross-pollinate with garden spinach, Spinacia oleracea. If two distinct strains of Basella rubra are being grown, isolate by 1/4 mile or cage to ensure purity. When seed capsules turn from green to brown the seeds are ready to pick.
Garden Huckleberry (Solanum melanocerasum) - Planting: Sow indoors ¼" deep in pots or flats 6 weeks before the last frost. Thin seedlings when 2" tall and transplant into individual pots. Plant outdoors 24" apart in rows 36" apart.
Seed Saving: Garden Huckleberries do not cross-pollinate. To save seed simply take ripe fruits and crush them in a bowl. Add water to the bowl and the seeds will sink and the skin and pulp will float. Separate the contents and wash the seeds in a strainer. Allow seeds to dry and store in a cool dry area.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

A look into how Cuba was able to survive their own peak oil crisis and how we can learn from what they went through.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-66172489666918336

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Handy Farm Devices and How to Make Them

Here is a quick link to a site that shows how farmers made some of their tools a hundred or so years ago.
http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/device/devices1.html

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Planting a Multi Family Fruit Salad Tree

Today I finally was able to get one of my rare "Multi Family" Fruit Salad Trees planted.

I could not find a nursery that had one for sale, so I had to track down a small orchard that was willing to part with one of their young trees. The orchard, named "Sciocchi Di Aprile" had about twenty of these rare trees that I could see when I picked one up. It ended up costing me $350, which seems a bargain considering the rarity of this tree.

What makes a "Multi Family" fruit salad tree so special is the fact that someone has been able to create multiple fruits from different families growing off of the same tree. They have, in the past been able to grow fruit salad trees with the same family of fruit. Examples would be one which grows peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and peachcots. Or one which grows multiple apple types.

On mine it includes apples, peaches, plums, pears, cherries and bananas. Then I am supposed to plant strawberries at the base and a grape vine that will grow up the trunk. This way I have everthing I need to make a wonderful fruit salad all in one tree.

It is pretty amazing and I can't wait to get you some photos.

[note- as it is past April 1st, I suppose I can point out that this was an April Fools posting. Although they do have "fruit salad" tree's such as those in my example above, I've never heard of any that can grow different families of fruit]

Timeline of a Chickens Life

Here is a link to a timeline of a chicken's life. How long they incubate, when you can candle them, when they hatch, how long to feed starter feed, when they begin laying, etc.

http://www.freewebs.com/professorchicken/timelineofachicken.htm

Eat, Grow and Raise Rare Varieties

I was following up on one of my posts on a forum I belong to and realized that I had not yet posted this information on this blog.

The example I posted earlier about the broccoli and the fact that Idaho grows so many potatoes should bring to light one of the problems I see in agriculture today.

In the old days, farmers (including very large farms) grew a multitude of crops. People knew that they could get whatever they wanted within a short distance. But these huge Ag companies have narrowed down the varieties of what they grow. Now we have huge areas that only grow one vegetable. In fact, only one variety of vegetable. Now, what happens when a disease comes through an area? You get crops completely wiped out.

It is what happened when the blight wiped out the potatoes and caused the great Irish famine.

The same thing happened with the bananas. We began growing almost exclusively one variety of banana, the Gros Michel, a banana that was larger and, by all accounts, tastier than the fruit we now eat. A fungus called Panama disease began infecting it and by the 60's it was virtually wiped out. Now what we think of as the banana is actually a second rate replacement called the Cavendish. If it happens again, the third variety down the line is a pretty poor substitute. And, in 1992, a new strain of the fungus, one that can affect the Cavendish, was discovered in Asia and most experts agree that we have major problems coming. We may not have bananas as we know them in ten years.

Because of these giant Ag companies taking over our food supply we are losing varieties of fruit, vegetables and farm animals at alarming rates.

Here are some examples:

96-98% of the commercial vegetable varieties available in 1903 are now extinct.

Reliance upon modern varieties of rice caused more than 1,500 local rice varieties in Indonesia to become extinct.

In the USA, only 5% of the apple varieties that existed 200 years ago still remain.

In the UK, 90% of vegetable varieties have disappeared over the last century.

99% of all turkeys raised in the U.S. are Broad-Breasted Whites, a single turkey breed specially developed to have a meaty breast.

83 percent of dairy cows are Holsteins, and five main breeds comprise almost all of the dairy herds in the US.

60 percent of beef cattle are of the Angus, Hereford or Simmental breeds.

75 percent of pigs in the US come from only 3 main breeds.

Over 60 percent of sheep come from only four breeds, and 40 percent are Suffolk-breed sheep.

The less varieties we have of all of our food the more of a chance that we can have them wiped out by disease or by climates that they are not meant to be grown in. The varieties being lost were developed in micro climates and were able to thrive. When we try to grow the same variety everywhere we are looking for trouble.

So, buy heirloom varieties when growing your garden. If possible pick wacky varieties that are at risk of extinction. Keep them alive. We are all part of the solution.

On our place, every variety of vegetable in my garden is an heirloom and our sheep, horses and chickens are all rare breeds.

Do what you can and can what you do.