Monday 24 September 2007

I'm getting persistent migraine again, but I've managed to do a bit on the plot. I've dug over a nasty nettle patch, which should now become productive, and stated on a bad patch of ground elder. After last night's deluge, the ground is now satisfactorily damp again; it had been getting very dry, despite the monsoon earlier in the year.

None of the three hives I gave cells to are showing any sign of brood, which is a worry. One is nasty-tempered and probably queenless, while the others, both splits from those hives I bought, are good-tempered and quiet on the comb. I can only assume that those at least are queenright.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

I got some last-minute leeks planted out the other day; hopefully they'll do something. i'm not planting out much apart from alliums though. I want to keep plenty of space for tender veg next summer, since that's what the family likes. Meanwhile I'm steadily getting the uncultivated beds knocked into shape. Despite the discouragements of the awful summer, I am at least in a good position to knock some more ground into shape before spring.

I've been pulling out the remains of some of the Great Mullein; it's a weed I tolerate for its dramatic, if too narrow, spikes of bloom. This year, for once, it wasn't devastated by mullein moth, and flourished correspondingly. I only want it down one side of the garden though, as it's too massive to be throwing up six-foot spires among dwarf plants. It's a biennial, and easily removed wherever it's unwelcome. Borage, which is grown commercially for starflower oil, is doing rather too well as always. It gets covered in bees, and I don't mind it as long as it's not smothering my crops. It's an annual, and once again, it's easily pulled out where it's not wanted. I just wish the veg. would do as well!

I'm slowly catching up with the hedge trimming. It's a horrible job, especially when I'm doing the tops of the hedges with a lumsy great thing that's not quite powerful enough, and keeps sticking. Once it's done though, i should be able to keep on top of it now.

Thursday 6 September 2007

The dry weather seems to be continuing merrily now that the holiday season is behind us! My butternut squashes are growing well at last, far too late to produce ripe fruit this year. The Cambridge Gage have mostly been eaten, and were excellent, and the Egremont Russet apples are falling. They need to be kept a while after this to become really sweet.

I've raised another batch of queen cells, and moved both the queens I got last spring into rather makeshift nuc boxes. Hopefully they'll come though the winter at the head of small colonies, to provide a reserve for next year. Three queenless colonies have been given cells. It's late in the season, but as long as the queens mate satisfactorily, and I feed them, they should be OK.

I don't normally feed bees, as a well-adapted strain should be able to store enough to get through any winter comfortably. I do it when there's a specific reason, and yesterday I gave them a gallon of syrup each, with 1/4 gallon for each of the two nucs.