Monday, June 6, 2011

Deal of the Day

You won't believe the bargain I found today!  I found myself at the Kmart on Buford Highway at Buford Highway and 285.  Actually, this Kmart is right up the street from Angler's Corner of red wiggler fame.  I was on the hunt for an Earthbox and an earlier Google search led me to believe that it might be possible to find one at Kmart.  No such luck.  Bummer.  But, in the meantime, what I did find was this:

Bucket Organizer
Now, I have been looking at these at the big box stores and they sell for somewhere in the neighborhood of $15.  That's actually a lower price.  You can get boutique ones for more.  It would be nice to have, especially for my beekeeping supplies, but I am a little on the frugal side and $15 felt like a lot when what I was using was technically working, sort-of.  And, they are usually made in dark colored fabrics.  Not ideal because the bees are attracted to dark colors.  I don't need them buzzing around equipment I am trying to get to.  Or, hanging out in a bucket I am about to plunge my hand into. 

Well, at Kmart, they were selling them for $9.99.  Oh yeah.   Under 10 bucks.  I can swing that.  And, they are my favorite color of blue.  I know.  Does this really matter?  No, not really.  But, it sealed the deal.  I'll take one of those, please!  I also grabbed a bucket for $3 and I was feeling pretty happy.  I starting making big plans to organize my beekeeping equipment after the kids went to bed.  I got to the register and as the lady was ringing it up, I noticed that it was on sale.  SUPER DUPER sale.  This baby was marked down to $2.50.  I practically leaned across and hugged the poor woman ringing me up, asked her to put that transaction on hold and made my way back to the gardening center to get another set so I could better organize my gardening bucket.  Now, I am the very proud owner of two organized buckets, one for gardening and one for beekeeping.  And, I got it all for under $12, the cost of ONE of the organizers at the other big box stores.  I just had to share this in case anyone else is in the market!

My beekeeping supplies all tidy and organized.  No more digging in a reusable, soft-sided grocery bag with a frame of bees in my hands.  Yay!  It even has pockets and elastic on the inside of the bucket.  And, a velcro closure pouch that I put the Epi-Pens in. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bee-ing a Good Neighbor by Installing Bee Pools

If you and I are friends on Facebook and you read a recent back-and-forth between my neighbor and I, then you know that she expressed some concern over the fact that bees had been drinking from her pool.  Now, there is no way to know for certain that these are my honeybees.  They might be.  They might not be.  I have not seen it myself.  Really.  Who can blame the bees?  It is hot as blazes out here and I'm sure their pool is just lovely.  Still, the neighborly thing to do, in my opinion, is to try to be part of the solution.  After all, what good is it to care about the environment if you don't care about your neighbors and their environment?

So, today, while the girl was at camp, the boy and I got busy building two swimming pools for the bees in our yard.  I already have bee watering stations, but hopefully this will be even better for the bees - never low on water, cooler water because it's deeper, and just smelly enough to attract them.  I have heard bees like smelly water.  I have to believe this is true because they will drink water out of my plant flats and it took them two weeks to find the nice clean watering station.  They only stumbled upon it after I placed it right next to a post-rain, water-logged pot.  I had to move it slowly, about 3 inches a day, until I got it where I wanted it for the duration so they wouldn't lose it again.

Installing Bee Pools (AKA Mini Ponds)

The water loving plants that will give the bees landing pads for drinking in the bee pools.

Two plastic planters with plugs in the bottoms.  I got these at Home Depot for $29.

Adding Silicone around the plug to make sure they are water tight.  After you add this, it has to cure for 3 to 8 hours.

Silicone covering the plug.

Arranging the containers.  The water lily needs to be higher, so it will rest on the upside down planter.  The submersed oxygenating plants (horsetail) will go in the other two pots.  The floaters, well, they float.

Look sideways.  For some reason, I can't get this photo to turn.  I added gravel to two of the pots to help weigh them down and keep the horsetail submerged.

All done.  The water lily still has it's tag.  I am going to make my way to Flora Hydroponics and get an appropriately sized Smart Pot for that sometime next week.  That way, I can cut it to the perfect height.  For now, it will live in the pot I bought it in.  The floating plants are water lettuce and water hyacinth. 

All done!  I set it near a lavender plant with the hopes that the bees will stumble upon it since they are all over the lavender.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Lazy Garden

I love a good experiment.  I think most gardeners do.  For the most part, we don't get our egos wrapped up too much in the successes and failures.  We try just to try.  The real success is learning along the way.  Such is the case with the lazy garden.

For a long time, I have wanted to try a lasagna garden.  I have perused articles and books and even scoured Atlanta for the right ingredients per an article I read in Organic Gardening.  You try going down to the local feed store and asking them if their alfalfa hay is herbicide-free.  Let me know ahead of time when you plan to make your way down there.  I could go for some entertainment.  (In all fairness, the guys are great and they are working hard to stock organic items.  I appreciate what they are trying to do.)

At any rate, eventually, I decided it just wasn't something I could do this year.  Then, my daughter came home with three or four pumpkin seedlings she had grown in school.  She was beaming.  This was big!  See, for years, while my son has approached gardening with an interest level bordering on alarming, my daughter has shown only mild interest.  When I say that what I mean is that she will stand at the edge of the garden and read a book while I tend to the business of gardening.  The pumpkin seedlings changed that.  She was beaming with pride at what she had grown.  She was telling stories of why she chose pumpkins over flowers and sunflowers.  She told me her methods for watering and ensuring it got enough light.  This was the moment.  I could sense it.  I wasn't going to waste it. 

And so, the lasagna lazy garden came to be.  The lazy garden is a modified lasagna garden done the lazy gardener way. In the lazy garden, you skip measurements and commit to using what you have so you don't have to run around finding ingredients.  Everything is very loose.  You throw in a little of this and a little of that, top it with some soil/compost, plant and pray. If you absolutely have to have something, this is not the method to use! That said, I have, in the past, had some mighty fine things grow straight out of the compost pile and this is a similar concept.  

In our lazy garden, we are growing the three sisters.  We have sunflowers, beans and summer and winter squash.  And, I am going to toss in a few tomato plants at the back just for fun.  Oh, and we have a decomposing Jarrahdale Blue pumpkin in a brown Whole Foods bag thrown in for giggles.  We'll see what comes of that.  Most importantly, we are growing a gardener with our lazy garden.  Even if this lazy garden fails and we don't get a single bloom or a single vegetable out of it, if it succeeds at growing the gardener, then I say the lazy garden will have been a huge success.

The pumpkin seedlings that started it all.

Full view of the lazy garden.
Sunflowers sown directly in the garden.
Summer squash transplanted from the main garden.
These two squash plants were removed from the main garden because they were the weaker seedlings.  They incurred quite a bit of shock during that process and dropped almost all their leaves.  They have recovered nicely.
Inside this bag is a rotting Jarrahdale Blue pumpkin.  We'll just see what happens with that.  I'll either have a pile of seeds to dust off and save for next year or we'll have pumpkin vines and (fingers crossed!) pumpkins.