bee update

forest fire not far away and wanted to see how the bees were doing.  still too hot to open the hive, all that new comb is soft enough, even softer in the heat, and with the fire and the lack of pollen availability, don’t want to threaten them

IMG_0905right after I took this picture, a lot of bees few into the hive.  not much pollen to be seen, and even my own flower garden is light right now. made worse by the damage done during a hail storm a couple of days ago.  had to really cut back on my blanket flower and bee balm particularly and the  honeysuckle is doing little.  except for a couple of squash blossoms (and I mean a couple), its pretty scare for the bees

IMG_0906but the hive looks healthy and is continuing to build comb, though slowly

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cherry time redux



was asked about information on this cherry pitter – from amazon

If you look up Cherry Pitter you will find this listed under several different names, at several different price points.  Think it is the only 6 at a time unit, there are several different 4 at a time units, and then there are one at a time that rely on a gravity feed and you just stamp the pitter down individually.  I’m fond of this one.  Sometimes the pit doesn’t fall, instead clinging to the cherry, so you have to pull it free.  Just remember to look and watch.  Everyone once in a while a pit makes it through, which will happen to any pitter.  Its repetitious, but even for 600 cherries, you’d only have to do this 100 times!  Removing the stems is more time consuming!


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cherry time

have no trees, reliant on store bought.  Some years see sweet cherries for $5+/lb.  Then we don’t even get any for a treat Sad smile

Some years they just aren’t appealing Sad smile

This year, they were down to $2.99/lb Smile.  All these cherries gave me 4 pint jars.  no sugar added. just cherries. 


If I’m lucky, this week they’ll be $1.99/lb and will buy more to dry for sweet snacks in the winter.

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keeping track

4 of the 7  zucchini seeds planted have come up.  Nothing showing yet on the bush beans or the carrots (did mention I’d planted carrots where the peas had been? and when I harvest the peas all the ripe pods that I was saving for seed were gone?).

Finished mulching the bean planting area and the zucchini.

pulled the Asian greens and am getting ready to plant more  beans there and mulch on top of it.

Record breaking heat wave.  For Phoenix, its not the longest stretch of plus 100F days, but the hottest as 100 and 101 count for that record. This year the highs  have rarely gone below 104, with far too many days at 110 and more.  We’re about 12F cooler, so you can tell its been hot here.  We usually get to upper 90’s, low 100’s for maybe a few days here and there scattered across the summer.  This year, the air conditioner has been on 24/7 since the end of June.  NEVER before.  Maybe a couple of straight days during the hot and humid monsoons, but most other mornings its cool enough to open up the house and turn on the fans and cool it down to the mid/low 60’s.  This year? Not so much.

Am glad I’ve discovered mulch as its cut down watering by a lot.  This kind of weather would have been an everyday, maybe twice a day, chore.  This year, more like every 2-3 days.  That will make the water in the tanks last soo much longer.

Oh yeah, have decided to forgo growing onions.  Don’t have enough room to plant enough of them, far enough apart, to get real good size onions.  Same for the shallots. Keep the space available for things I can grow.

And who knows when the next rains will come.  See that snow levels of 6700 feet in Oregon for a storm coming through. Snow expected for Yellowstone and The Tetons. and here it is, nearly mid-July.  But the storm isn’t moving far enough south to bring rain to us.

Nothing happening with the weather folks, nothing to see here, just move along and don’t worry  . . . .  this won’t effect food production, or deliveries.  Just be prepared to open up the wallet a little more while California stays dry and the rest of the country floods.

Posted in carrots, container gardening, gardening, garlic/onions, greens, grow bags, homesteading, legumes, organic, prepping, self-reliance, Uncategorized, water | 1 Comment

just keeping track

The band of monsoon rains has passed leaving me with a full 1100 gallon tank of water.  PLUS the 1000 and 650 gallon and 350 gallon tanks!!  Ran out yesterday and got a hook up to create an overflow line. Otherwise it will just pour out and undermine the footing for the tank!  That was a poor design!!  And unfortunately, the only large hose I could find was a pool hose and its BLUE!  so much for blending in with the vegetation!!  It will do until I can find another though

Planted more zucchini. For those who can’t believe there is a need to replant zucchini, I use a bush variety and am growing in containers.  So they reach a point where they are small leaved and really don’t produce much fruit.  This keeps me in zucchini without having huge monster plants devouring my garden space.  Also planted some bush beans today too.

Put up shade cloths over the two beds used for the above.  Despite all the rain and shade and wet, the ground is bone dry and its nothing but HOT out there!

Have been using this coconut husk mulch and really like it. it gets expensive, but doesn’t everything?!  The blocks are easy to move on site and then you can either wet it down in the wheelbarrow and shovel in place, or break it up, scatter it, then water.  I do the former.  The block I’d set up in the wheel barrow did not completely cover the bed where the zucchini was just planted, much less leave enough for the beans, so just ordered 3 more blocks.

Notice I’ve said bed and that I grow the zucchini in containers.  I use damn big containers!  The so called beds are really nothing more than in ground pots – holes in the earth lined with pavers then filled with dirt to keep the burrowing critters out!  The first lot of zucchini is in a 3′ diameter 24″ deep grow bag, the second planting is in a 20foot, by 2 feet x 18″ deep in ground container.  With work, could improve our red dirt, which is nothing more than broken down sandstone, but would still have the problem of gophers burrowing up into them.  ALL my beds are lined one way or the other – the flower beds lined with screening rather than pavers.  Have already had the experience of having the gophers eat the roots of everything when the dry season comes.

Posted in container gardening, gardening, grow bags, homesteading, legumes, organic, prepping, self-reliance, squash, Uncategorized, water | Leave a comment

collecting rain

monsoons have begun, rain and wind slowed down enough to get out and take a picture.  In the background you see a gutter extension which is going to our new 1100 gallon tank.  There is a similar extension from the garage roof on the other side of the courtyard.  Later will try to figure out how many gallons went into the tank.  Absolutely 100 minimum,  maybe 200, Maybe double that as I’m thinking of how much I know comes down the one side alone.  Not much compared to 1100, but it’s a start!  and that’s water I don’t have to buy now.  yes, it will take our lifetimes combined for these tanks to “pay” for them. Personally, am glad to (1) be able to afford them without worrying about their value in that manner and (2) am thrilled to not be drawing on our city water reserves for my gardening needs and (3) no matter how much HE needles me about how much our water costs, HE agrees that rainwater is best for all things garden!


*** went to clean off the debris on the top of the rain tank this AM after yesterday’s downpour, and while I was there decided to look in and see how much water had accumulated and the tank is at least 3/4 full!  One rain!! about 750 gallons!!  Bought too small a tank!!!

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garden update

for the bees

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garden is doing surprisingly well since it is as hot as it has been, with weeks in the 100Fs!  the main garden is well covered both from the top and from the side. eastern side with screening, western side with the neighbors new fence. That is also protecting it from the winds.  Mulch is also making a difference

IMG_0875 (768x1024) spaghetti squash in the foreground, chard in the back. Chard doing well despite the heat. Squash starting to catch up after a slow start for some reason.  Maybe because the garden is really covered up and protected from the sun now

IMG_0876 (768x1024)tomatoes, foreground are striped romas, and intermediate heirloom.  Then there is a store bought melon seedling that’s also finally catching on, there are some unidentified heirlooms from purchased tomatoes we liked and there are also some dill plants back there.  Way in the back are the peas I let go to seed. Time to get them out and get some carrots in there

IMG_0878 (768x1024)yellow plum tomatoes in grow bags

IMG_0879 (768x1024)That’s a watermelon with a lavender and russian sage in the foreground (for the bees)

IMG_0881 (768x1024) the geraniums seem to keep going all winter in the greenhouse and in the summer in the shade next to the spa

IMG_0882 (1024x453)along the eastern fence, boysenberry, rhubarb, blueberry, basil and a nectarine

IMG_0883 (768x1024) best the peppers have ever done

IMG_0884 (768x1024)zuchinni is happy in this grow bag. need to get a second planting in though as this particular variety (cocozelle) is a bush and reaches an end.

IMG_0885 (1024x768)roma tomatoes, volunteer I’m not sure what yet (thought it was a melon, but not think it might be a winter squash of some sort)

IMG_0886 (1024x768)rhubarb.  Thought I’d lost this plant as I’d split one of my plants and made the mistake of harvesting right away instead of letting it grow in. This is a short fat pot and the stems don’t get longer than this.

IMG_0887 (768x1024) This plant was in the same type of pot as the other last year and transplanted it into this much bigger grow bag and you can see the difference.  good 10”+ long stalks rather than the 4-7” I was getting before.

IMG_0888 (768x1024)this fig was originally bought as a bare root that never leafed out. Then another stalk came up from the base. But that didn’t come back this year either and now something is coming up again.  So maybe I can’t do figs here.  The other plant never leafed out again either, but now has new growth coming up from the root base.

IMG_0889 (1024x688) These potatoes are along the west fence where they could be cooler.  The four black bags are all from formal seed potatoes. the green bag was a store bought potato that put out growth.  as dry as they all look, they were soaked yesterday!

IMG_0890 (1024x767)strawberries are doing okay. again, these were all watered well yesterday and look bone dry today.  But are doing much better here on the west side of the building than they did the first time I tried strawberries on the east side.  All about finding micro environments

because we’ve been traveling more than usual this year, the garden is not doing all I’d really want it to be doing.  The asparagus came up okay. was supposed to be 3 year roots and harvestable this year.  Let the few stalks that came up in the spring go, but they were few and sparce.  See some new ones have just come up now for some reason, and am letting those go too.

no one watered the ginseng while we were gone so not sure if they will survive Sad smile

Need to plant bush beans, zucchini and get the carrots going.  in one of the more shaded containers need to get some broccoli in.  Will also be starting some lettuce in one of the main garden beds all for fall harvest.

Posted in asparagus, bees, carrots, chard, comfrey, container gardening, fruit, gardening, grow bags, homesteading, legumes, organic, peppers, potatoes, prepping, self-reliance, squash, tomatoes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment