Monday, May 20, 2019

Bees, bees and more bees!!

Our Apiary is growing by leaps and bounds!!  We had no idea what we were getting  ourselves into when we decided to keep a few bees.  We had a total of three swarms, and then split all the other hives/nucs before more swarms could take place.




We allowed the splits to raise their own queens and removed a few of the extra queen cells to try raising queens in a queen castles. It's always good to have a few extra queens on hand in case you lose a queen.  

It was a little nerve racking having so many nucs/hives without queens at the same time. We just had to trust they knew what they were doing.  When we peeked inside after a couple of weeks we spotted on of the virgin queens. So we attempted to mark her, but she flew away!! We had no idea the new queens would fly like that!  After freaking out slightly, we moved onto a new hive and spotted another virgin queen.  This time we didn't even mark her, as soon as she saw us she flew away!!  So we closed up all the hives and had to walk away for a few days.


We peeked in again after about a week and were relieved to see eggs!!  We have never been able to spot eggs, because they are so tiny, but Kenan bought some dark foundations to help us spots eggs and sure enough there they were!  


These tiny eggs mean that our flyaway queens returned and they are now mated!!  


Now that all the hives have queens they are busy raising brood, drawing frames and bringing in lots of nectar!! The spring honey flow (Poplar, clover and Locust) has started and we've placed queen excluders on the strongest hives and will finally be able to collect honey if all goes well.


We decided to try using wax foundations instead of plastic, so we can potentially offer honey with cut comb. :)  We've had several local folks request it.


This week, we had a really good day in the bee yard! We found and marked 2 new mated queens and found one more unmarked virgin queen. So we have successfully raised 9 new queens, and combined 3 hives with 3 nucs to strength the hives for honey making. We currently have 6 hives, 11 nucs and 3 colonies in the queen castle.  We are really hoping for a good honey harvest!!

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Garden Season- First week of May



Not a bad harvest for the first week of May. We are still getting lots of Shiitakes and asparagus. Kale, spinach and lettuce are really starting to come in.   Rhubarb is exploding and i have radishes!!



Shiitake have done amazing this year, and we are starting to see some oysters from plugged logs. i found one last morel.



Cool crops have been doing well, but it's getting warm quick so i'm hoping they don't all bolt. We are getting lots of fresh spinach and lettuce. Some of my lettuce seeds were old and didn't germinate well, so i have to replant.


 My radish are actually growing bulbs this year! Most of the varieties i've grown in the past have failed. The greens grow big and lush, but the bulbs never develop. French Breakfast is where it's at!  They are the only ones that grew well, and they grew effortlessly with perfect bulbs! 

My summer garden has been started in the greenhouse, and i'm hoping to finish getting it planted with weekend.  i could have put things in earlier, but we've had such a busy spring it just hadn't gotten done. i've also found with tomato plants there is really no rush moving them out the garden this early. They prefer the heat of the greenhouse.  i usually plant beans, squash directly in the garden but i've been having and issue with bunnies nibbling my new sprouts so i've started my beans and squash in the greenhouse as well. 

My broccoli have pretty good heads on them so far, and my peas are about knee high.  Hoping the temperatures stay pretty mild the rest of the month and don't get too high or i'll lose all my cold crops.

Artisan market is starting back up next week, so i'm already anticipating a very busy summer!

How are your gardens doing?


May Morel Season- better late than never


Typically my morel season starts the second week of April. Every year, i get excited and begin hunting at the end of march, but rarely find any until the second week of April.

We have a couple spots on our property where we tend to find the morels, so i always start looking there first.



This year i only found a couple in one of the spots around the 3rd week of April, and was feeling pretty discouraged. Our original morel honey hole dried up about 10 years ago, and we've been hunting this spot ever since.  Over the last couple years there have been less and less morels leading me to think it too may be drying up.


By the beginning of May i'd given up on our regular spot, i think i found a total of 3 there.  i started exploring the rest of the woods looking for a new honey hole. Morels like hardwoods. Elms and Ash tend to be there favorites, although i've always found them around oak and poplar trees on our property.


 After spending a few hours exploring the 150 acres surrounding us, i came back through an area near our creek that was almost exclusively poplars.  It's a pretty steep bank and i'm not sure if i've never looked there before or if i just always looked too early, but the morels were everywhere!  They were larger than the ones i usually find (because i hadn't found them earlier) and so they were much easier to spot! They were just about waving at me!


So i ended April super disappointed that my morel spot had dried up, but started May with a brand new spot for next year!   We didn't find a crazy amount of morels this year, but found enough to make a meal. Hopefully next year this spot is productive and we'll have a new honey hole for at least a few more years.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Rebel Gardens Ultimate Giveaway 3 Winners!!!





Planting season is in full swing here!  Our frost free day is typically around Mother's day, so we've been buy getting our gardens ready and starting seeds. Some of the local folks don't put their gardens in until after Memorial day, but it's been so warm this spring that we are going to chance it and plant the rest of the garden this weekend. 


i already have my cold crops in, and have been harvesting kale, spinach, lettuce and radish. We are also getting lots of shiitake and oyster from our plugged logs and the rhubarb is ready to harvest too. 

i've hosted a couple of giveaways for Rebel Gardens this year, and am excited to be hosting another one!   Rebel Gardens is growing company out of Canby, OR that offers organic, Non GMO, Heirloom Seeds.  On the surface Rebel Gardens is just a seed company. But under the surface they are actually something a little different.  Their real goal isn't just selling seeds, the real goal is undermining the industrial food system. In a nutshell they believe that our modern food system is not healthy for our bodies, for our planet, for anything really and they want to be a part of the solution.


i really love that their seeds are certified organic, non-gmo, heirloom and USA grown and packed!.   i also love their mission! 

"Rebel Gardens is about invoking the spirit of WW2 Victory Gardens. But this time we grow not to support a war but to support a Rebellion. The industrial food system is slowly destroying our health and we are not going to take it anymore. Plant a seed with us and grow the rebellion! "




Rebel Gardens offers several different seed collections. Their newest collections include the Microgreens, Salad Garden and Edible flower collection!  Click here to get 20% off any of these collections. 



So are you ready to help grow the rebellion?

The Generous folks at Rebel Gardens have offered their 3 new collections and a set of Gardening tools to 3 lucky winners!! 



Can't wait for the giveaway? You can purchase them here.  


Now for the giveaway!

 3 lucky reader will win the three newest collections (Microgreens, edible flowers and salad garden) and a set of Gardening tools!

Enter below using the rafflecopter form (it might take a minute to load). One entry per person/IP address. US only. The winner will have 48 hours to respond by email or another winner may be chosen



Connect with Rebel Gardens

You can find them on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/GrowTheRebellion/ 
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/rebelgardens/
Also you can add Rebel Gardens on messenger chat to be kept up to date about future contests and coupons. 




disclaimer. i did not receive compensation for this post, however i did receive a free product to review in exchange for my opinion. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. This post may contain affiliate links.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Morel Season is in Full Swing in the Blue Ridge!

 Seems that Easter weekend was a BIG weekend for morel hunting in Floyd County and i wasn't at home to hunt. 😭  We went away for the weekend, and when i checked into facebook my feed was FULL of morel pictures.
We got home  Sunday night and had just enough daylight left to check my spot.


Only found one lonely little mushroom. Went back out to look for them a few more times this week, but didn't find any. i was starting to feel a little discouraged, worried that my spot has dried up and we've never found them anywhere else on the property.  We had another good rain during the week, so i went back out hunting yesterday.


i was thrilled to find a couple more. Still not the big morel flush i've been hoping for, but it's something. i'm going to keep checking my spots and keep looking for spots. i KNOW they have to be out there.

We've had two different 'honey holes' on our property, the first we stumbled upon the first year we moved here. It produced well for almost 10 years and then stopped. The second spot i found after the first one dried up, and it's been producing ever since although the yield has definitely been going down each year.  i'll be back out hunting them again today, hoping i stumble upon a new 'honey hole'.