Sunday, November 30

Honey time

The weather was finally perfect to take honey, and I was at home! I wanted to take honey the week before, but lightening and rain stopped this. The two hives are doing well, however, the one I am working on below has placed brood into the middle of the 2nd supper - so I only managed to take 8 frames (the top super is new and although nearly full it has a week or so to go). The back hive is new this spring (the box was empty and a swarm took it over) - the bottom super is just being worked on, the upper is full (odd, the bees started at the top, however, the bottom has wax moth, so I am going to replace super next week. I took 2 frames from this hive - spinning 18.5 kg from the 10 frames - enough for Christmas!

Taking frames for honey

Saturday, November 22

Spring 2014

It has been an incredibly long time since I have post on this website. I am a very slack blogger, but that’s the way it is for my sex and age.

Last vegi garden was successful, although the cucumbers did not do so well. In winter I had broccoli and I took note of those who say asparagus require lots of organic matter. My compost bin I rarely empty – once every 2-3 years, so last autumn I emptied it, and put a large amount over the asparagus. This spring we had the best crop ever – suggesting that the experts are right – asparagus needs lots of organic matter.

In winter I also planted a large number of broad beans after experimenting in 2013 – and we had a good crop, although I should have harvested a week earlier. A fortnight prior to harvesting my wife indicated they had a little to go, and then we had 2 weeks of hot weather, no rain and no time! The problem was winter was very wet then we had some extraordinary hot days in spring, with next to no rain – indeed we have had more rain today, due to thunderstorms (lightening has apparantly hit a boy  just down the street along with a number of trees in the discrict - see ABC news 2014 November 22) than for the previous month. Below is rainfall for Banksia Park SA since we began living there, colour coded to indicate dry and wet months (I have added todays rain to November already). The drought of 2006 is obvious.

Rainfall for Banksia Park 1996 to 2014

This winter/spring I again planted tomatoes from punnets into pots in my little hot house along with capsicum and cucumber to get them going. The tomatoes I have replanted into perlite in the hydroponics – see picture below – and I will transplant the capsicum and cucumber in the next week or two.

I had much trouble last year with strawberries in the 90 mm pipe dying – perhaps due to lack of water (although I thought at one stage I had root issues due to lack of drainage; however on second thoughts, the strawberries on the lowest end of the pipe thrived and those on the upper end died, suggesting lack of water not to much). Those that survived I placed into the large troughs in winter and they flourished in spring, and are bearing beautiful strawberries right now. These have now been netted as the birds find them very appealing.

Summer 2013/14
This spring 2014

 The rest of the garden did OK in winter, although it look like a jungle in spring. Last year I whipper-snipped the grass too early and the late spring rains brought it all up again. Wanting to avoid that this year, I left it unto a few weeks ago, but of course with little rain since July the grass was tall and dead. Also it has taken from February to now to clean up after two very nasty storms in summer that took out three massive gum trees – leaving enough fire-wood for a few years to come. I needed to get a tree surgeon in to clean up the surrounding trees, remove a tree that ended up over-hanging the neighbour’s swimming pool and remove a very large limb that was suspended 8-10 metres above the ground between two trees. I still have much wood cutting to do, but the large stuff is cut into fire-stove lengths.

One of the trees that was snapped off about 7 metres above the ground (now cut to 4 metres) was a favourite of the koala’s in the area. Below are a mother and her baby in a tree just 20 metres from the house – taken from outside our kitchen window. There is usually at least one in the garden at any one time, somewhere up the top of the gum trees. They look crazy in strong winds, which we tend to get in summer evenings (Adelaide gully winds) as the trees swing from side to side with the koala hanging on for dear life. And being mating season they have been very noisy at night as they grunt and growl at a very low pitch.
Koala in tree
Koala in tree