Updated: Feb 7
Whelp, I have already failed in maintaining a monthly blog. Sorry, June. For a person with 'not a real job' at the moment, I seem to find myself very busy.
We've been in and out of town a lot in the past few weeks, which is actually quite uncommon for us, and quite a NIGHTMARE when you're trying to have a farm. But, with my birthday backpacking trip, my 1st anniversary, and a week at the beach to celebrate my mom's birthday, some time away is necessary. And, all of these things required planning, which added to days away from farm life.
Holy moly. When will we not have bee problems? I should have an entire blog post dedicated for bee problems.
Last year, which was our first year as beekeepers, we had 2 great hives- until late summer. RIP.
Oh, we did it all by the book. My husband and I, as a team, are great and totally Type A personalities. Our role as beekeepers was exactly as our mentors and bee books suggested. And yet...neither of our hives made it to the winter no matter what we did. Varroa mites, man. No matter how we treated, they weakened our colonies, which made our bees more vulnerable to the next issue- yellow jackets. And whatever bees were left after the yellow jackets had their fill either left or died, and wax moths invaded. So sad.
This year we tried again with new bees from a new provider - and they were loaded with good strong girls! We got one package and one nuc. But, lo and behold, a couple months in and one of our queens was missing. We have been queenless for months now, but had plenty of bees in there still. We even tried requeening but weeks later she was nowhere in sight, and there were no eggs or larva. We were about to order another one when we spied queen cups that were capped (means they're making their own queen?) so we're waiting to see what happens now. Thank God the other hive seems to be doing OK.
Yes, as I've mentioned before, I bit off more than I can chew with these gardens. When I started planning the addition I was thinking in teacher mode where I have alllll this free time in the summer. Now, I need to work on building my clientele and promoting myself as an herbalist all year round.
The good news is I tried for the first time to grow beans and peas, which was pretty successful. However with the new plant comes new pests to deal with, and I've been spending monotonous and unnecessary hours of my day squishing some bean beetle and yellow fuzzy larva stage alien-looking thing. These have been chewing up my bean leaves to the point they look like a beautiful lace. Then the Japanese beetles came in to finish the job. I know when I come back from the beach next week that there won't be much left to harvest.
And, I finally learned how to downsize my squash and zucchini issues! Every year I plant waaaaaay more of these than I need, considering the kids are determinedly anti all things squash. I think I might have found the sweet spot of 3 of each kind of squash.
The orchard is a bust, I think. I have no idea what I'm doing. All the fruit I did see early in spring is gone, one apple tree is dead (not sure what happened there), and Japanese beetles decimated my plum tree.
On another positive note, I think I have way less 'mystery plants'- the ones that I don't remember planting and have no idea what they are until they fruit.
But weeding by hand every few days is a huge ordeal. And hand-picking bugs is getting obnoxious. Next year we are definitely using mulch to help keep down on the weeds. However I'm still not going to use anything on my plants other than neem oil- which, of course, I only get around to using right before it rains, which makes it pretty much pointless.
And when we get back from the beach I'm supposed to be planning my (1 year later) wedding reception in our barn- which is full of the most random assortment of things, all of which need to go...where? Hidden somewhere, I guess. So, I got that going for me, which is nice.