OUR SEA ISLAND GARDEN

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Posted by Gordon | Posted in News | Posted on 28-04-2012

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SEA ISLAND GARDEN

SEA ISLAND GARDEN - SPRING 2012

 

This morning, as I sit in my daughter’s kitchen in Columbia, South Carolina, I can see her small but impressive garden.  But what I think about is 150 miles away on Lady’s Island.  I will enjoy my weekend but my joy is the Sea Island garden along the coast.  We, my fellow gardeners and I, have spent many hours weeding, mulching, planting, digging, planning, netting and waiting for the evidence of our spring garden to materialize.  And that it has done.  Each day another row of our plantings appears while other crops reach for the sky.  Spring is a green world with the promise of many new colors on ripening fruit and vegetables.

WISTERIA AFTER THE BLOOM

OUR BEAUTIFUL WISTERIA WITHOUT ITS BLOOMS

 

We have accomplished more than we anticipated.  Our garden is splendid.  But first let me tell you about our bees.

 

HONEY BEES

We were very disappointed when our bees left the top bar hive last year.  We would occasionally see a member of this swarm in the garden but as the summer passed, so did the sightings.  We have no wild bees so any we saw had to come from our escaped package.  We ordered another 3 pound package.  This time from Bee Weaver Apiary in Austin, Texas.  Unlike those ordered last year, these are genetically selected for their resistance to the Varroa mites which have become a major pest to honey bee colonies as has the hive beetle and wax moth (this situation is brought about by the transportation of pollinating hives across the United States along with the pest).  Our new bees have been chemically free for over 10 years and as survivors of pest attacks have become resistant to many of them.  I am discovering that they are also very docile – a trait I very much appreciate.

Our package arrived and I discovered that the feeding jar intended to keep them from starving was clogged and that 3/4 of the package were dead upon arrival.

DEAD BEES

STARVED BEES IN PACKAGE UPON ARRIVAL

 

This was another disappointment as it meant that the hive would be very weak and would be susceptible to attack from the hive beetle and would not be able to take advantage of the nectar flow.  I placed the remaining bees in the top bar hive and verified that the queen was still alive (although not very healthy after the 6 day trip without food).  I sprayed them with and  feed them sugar water at the front of the hive which they began to take immediately.  To my surprise,  three days later, they swarmed and left the top bar hive.  Surprised because the queen was supposed to be marked and clipped to keep her from flying.  Apparently, she was not clipped radically enough to keep her from flying a short distance.  Dr. Crosley, Chris, saw them leave and settle to the ground in front of the hive.  Later, Davis and Kathy saw them in a swarm flight over the garden leaving for the woods.  I was here in Columbia that weekend so I saw nothing.

I had ordered a replacement package from Bee Weaver Apiary and it arrived the following Tuesday via overnight UPS.  I had decided to place them in a standard Langstroth hive as my confidence in my top bar hive has dwindled.  I resurrected an old hive body from my beekeeping past and was preparing to place them into it when I heard a swarm over the garden.  It landed inside the fence (on the ground).  It was small but obviously had the queen as they proceeded to form a bundle around her.  Incredible,  over a week out of a hive and still alive.  I ran and got another hive body and placed it over the swarm with 3 frames of wax hoping the queen would be driven to it and begin a hive.  I then went back to the apiary and placed the replacement hive into the Langstroth box with five frames of wax.  Wednesday morning I checked both hives and found them occupied with viable queens.  I feed them both with sugar water.  Yesterday, April 29, I checked again and re-fed them.  The replacement hive had already drawn out 2 1/2 frames and the queen was laying eggs.  I did not disturb the weaker hive other than to make sure they were still active.  I have ordered a complete new Langstroth hive with waxed plastic frames for the replacement package and a 5 frame NUC hive for the weak swarm hoping that I can nurture it into a strong self contained hive by Summer’s end.  The odds of having one, yet alone, two hives in October are slim but it is worth a try.  If successful, the garden will produce more than double what it will do without the bees.

WEAK HIVE

MAKE-DO HIVE FOR WEAK SWARM

 

STRONG HIVE

STRONG HIVE AWAITING NEW LANGSTROTH HIVE

 

GARDEN PHOTOGRAPH UPDATE

A small sampling of what is happening in the garden.

BEETS

BEETS

ARTICHOKE

ARTICHOKE

EDABLE DAYLILY

EDIBLE DAYLILY

 

CARROTS

CARROTS

KOHLRABOI

KOHLRABI

EGG PLANT

EGGPLANT

SWEET POTATO SLIPS

SWEET POTATO SLIPS

ASPERIGUS

ASPARAGUS

 

 

SWISH CHARD AND GARLIC

SWISH CHARD AND GARLIC

GREEN BLUE BERRIES

GREEN BLUE BERRIES

 

WINTER SQUASH

WINTER SQUASH

BLACKBERRIES BEHIND BIRD NETTING

BLACKBERRIES BEHIND BIRD NETTING

CUCUMBERS AND RADISH

CUCUMBERS AND RADISH

MUSCADINE GRAPE

MUSCADINE GRAPE

NEW RAISED BED FOR GARDEN OF EDEN POLE BEANS

NEW RAISED BED FOR GARDEN OF EDEN POLE BEANS

RAISED BED FOR TOMATOES AND 2012 DAYLILY SEEDLINGS

RAISED BED FOR TOMATOES AND 2010 DAYLILY SEEDLINGS

RAISED BEDS FOR STRAWBERRIES WITH BIRD NETTING

RAISED BEDS FOR STRAWBERRIES WITH BIRD NETTING

 

MORE TO COME LATER.

GORDON

 

 

 

Comments (1)

Hi Gordon – looks like all is well for your early summer garden – we are weeding bermuda like mad and have had a great crop of peaches (just coming in) and plums. After the disastrous drought of last year we have put up 17 large round bales of wheat/oat hay and are blessed! Our garden is doing well and all of our tanks (lakes – one 12 ac and the other 6 ac) are doing well and pumping!
We’ve been infested with caterpillars that decimated our basil and have found a new product called BT that is organic and makes the caterpillars feel full so that they don’t eat the veggies! I’ll let you know how it works…
Best regards and keep gardening!
Robin (in Central Texas)

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