Monday, April 11, 2011

A Rutabaga Named Joan

  We are in the midst of a wet, cool, and somewhat late spring.  Here we are almost to the middle of April but it still feels like March. So much for global warming.  I learned something interesting from my bee store utility bill the other day.  Our average high so far for 2011 is 4 degrees cooler than last year and our average low is 6 degrees cooler than last year.  Small wonder that my fruit trees are running so late.  My asian pear tree is just now getting ready to bloom. I still need to prune my grapes and blueberries and I need to weed and replant the strawberry beds. The vegetable garden is way behind schedule as well.  However, it is truly an ill wind that doesn't blow some good so there has to be some up side to this late spring.

   First of all, none of the fruit blossoms have been damaged by frost because most of them haven't bloomed yet.  I only have a few branches of my one plum tree that are in bloom so far. Since its been too wet and cool even for mason bees I actually hand pollinated one branch with a Q-tip.  I only did the one branch because I want to be able to see how effective my efforts were.   A second up side is that the Big Leaf Maple trees are not yet in bloom so they should be just in time for the package bees. Maybe it will dry out by then and we'll have a great maple nectar flow.  A third upside is that the blackberries will probably bloom late this year. They don't produce nectar well unless the temperature is at least 70 so a late bloom is usually better for the bees.  That was the best I could do for upsides and even that was a bit of a strain.

   Today I had Conner and Natalie by myself.  I took advantage of the fact that the weather was supposed to be somewhat decent and took the kids to our house for the day.  Conner hung out with me for two hours while I worked in the garden. He was very happy just to be outside. We also made a trip to the feed store to get chicken feed and checked out the baby chicks and ducklings.  Natalie spent some time helping me in the garden too. She helped me dig up the raised bed for the rutabagas and we discovered a little yellow and black salamander hiding under some debris. I went to borrow mom's camera but he was gone by the time I  got back.  I planted Cylindra beets, Joan rutabagas, weeded the rhubarb, and fed my bees.  It felt great to do a little yard work and at least make a little progress in the garden.

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