Victory Garden 2021 Underway!

I’m about two weeks late getting my Victory Garden in this year … because life. But, over the weekend I got everything underway and I suppose the best upside to the delay is that we’ll get veggies into the fall. Optimism, right?

I sketched the layout in my garden journal and started seeds in early April. None of my shishito or cucumber seeds took (boo, hiss), but the okra, green beans, cucumbers, and bell peppers were successful. I amended my seedlings with tomatoes from the Carrboro Farmers Market, and cucumbers and rainbow chard from Country Farm & Home. I’ve also started a second batch of shishito seeds this week and am transferring the balance of my karma patience points their way. In my raised beds, I’ve got butter crunch lettuce, the chard, and herbs (cilantro, basil, oregano, sage, thyme); in an open spot on the side of the house, nestled between batches of irises and camellias, are some potatoes that my friend Johnny gave me. And back along the edge of the woods by my husband’s honeybees, we’re growing watermelons because the chickens love them as much as our son does. The final prep will be a little patchwork to the landscaping fabric in the main garden because over the winter that asshole June Carter Cash, who loves to fly the coop and hang out in the garden abutting the chicken hut, scratched it up — but otherwise, Victory Garden 2021 is a Go!

What are you planting this year?

Welcome, Honeybees!

Welcome, Honeybees … bringers of spring and bountiful fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

Today, my husband introduced two new sets of bees to the meadow hives – one Italian and one Russian. Queens Isabella and Natasha. The honeybees are already scouting the field, checking out our peach, plum, fig, and apple trees. They’ve done fly-by’s to my chickens and are giving our beagle the side-eye. They’re synchronizing GPS’s and already bringing in pollen. #squad 

Everything seems to be in order and we’re excited for the forthcoming growing season. Shout out to James Fogleman at Silk Hope Bees for the packages. Let the 2021 Victory Garden season commence!

PS. Two of Queen Isabella’s henchmen stung the mister, so it looks like we’ve got a protection racket happening downfield. lol

Honeybees, near and far

We were in London in February, getting home about two weeks before the world shut down for COVID-19, and discovered Fortnum & Mason. We’re not typically souvenir kind of people, but I bought tea and biscuits for everyone in our family. Because the Queen. But I’m on their mailing list now because when it’s safe to travel again, I’d like to go back to England. Today’s newsletter introduces readers to the honeybee hives at Picadilly, on the roof of the F&M building. It made me think of Mr. Sickles and his honeybees, across the pond here in North Carolina.

Thanks to the honeybees

My husband started keeping bees early this spring because, thanks to quarantining and no business travel, he suddenly had the time. I jest, but I’m happy to report many good things have come from staying at the meadow. One of them is our garden–both vegetables and flowers!

We’ve had a little more rain than usual, the summer has been hotter, our beds are more established … all of these things are true. But I think we can really attribute much of Mother Nature’s success to honeybees. I did a little digging. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service states that “Roughly one of three bites of food is dependent on the work of honey bees and other pollinators, mostly wild native bees.” And according to the American Beekeeping Federation, “Many of the country’s crops would not exist without the honey bee at bloom time. Crop yield and quality would be greatly reduced without honey bee pollination.” I concur.

Perdue University’s horticulture program has an informative guide on the use of bees with vegetable crops, and according to them, our cucumbers and squash greatly benefitted from the bees. Our okra and pepper “set fruit without bees, but bee activity has shown to increase yields.” And our snap beans and tomatoes apparently got nothing from the honey bees other than having their pollen and nectar collected. But I don’t believe that, because my tomatoes have been more productive than ever this year.

So whether you’re relying on wild native bees, or are a practicing beekeeper, keep on providing a safe space for honeybees in your area. Their direct and indirect hard work pays off. Check out today’s tomato haul: 20!

Behind the Scenes : Beekeeping

The Optimistic Gardener ran in today’s Chatham News & Record, and we talked about keeping honeybees: The A-to-Z’s of Bees. This week’s community gardener is my friend Brian Flick, who is also helping my husband get his hive up and running. Here are some photos from behind the scenes, taken by photographer Peyton Sickles. Be sure to check out the article in the paper (either online or in print), and subscribe to the CN+R if you’re local.

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