Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fall Planning and Ponderings

On a nice cool, overcast day (like today!), my mind wanders to fall, my favorite season!  Now is the time to think about fall and winter crops.  Previously SAGE has been focused primarily on summer production, but this year we're hoping to lengthen our growing season.  Root crops and brassicas (kale, broccoli, cabbage, etc) are perfect things to plant now for cool season harvest.  The great thing about harvesting them later is that frosts generally have hit before they're harvested and that brings wonderful sugars into the veggies.  Kale before a frost and after a frost are two totally different vegetables in my mind!     

Beets provide both greens and their sweet roots; so versatile! 
A wonderful crop to plant now for fall harvest.

Some plants you have growing nice and big right now just might continue to provide you food now and through both the fall and winter.  This is what our kale will do! It's GORGEOUS right now and will be able to struggle through and provide greens in the winter when we're all craving a reminder of the sun.  Chard is another that may last the winter although with our heat, sometimes it blots (goes to seed) before the coolness of the fall is upon us.


Right now we're clearing out our blotted spinach, harvesting lettuce heads, and creating more space so we can begin to plant the winter crops.  More beets and carrots are high on my fall harvest list!  What's high on yours? 

If you are interested in learning more about what does well during the fall and winter, come to our "Planning Your Winter Garden" workshop Thursday, July 26th from 7 - 8:30pm at SAGE.  The workshop will be led by Master Gardener, Janet Throop, who will provide practical information and inspiration on how extend the harvest season. The cost is $5 – $10, sliding scale donation that supports SAGE programming. 

Happy Start to the Fall Growing Season!
Deanna (Garden Manager)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Summer Swarm

While finishing up a few tasks on Monday morning, Lille (one of the new Sustainable Ag interns at SAGE) and I noticed a cloud gathering over the hive in our Bee Garden. The buzzing could be heard from 50 feet away!

For a few minutes we stood on stumps and were immersed in a blizzard of thousands and thousands of bees. Suddenly, and all at once, they began funneling down into three distinct balls on the branches of a nearby tree. Within the hour they had formed one large swarm, with a second small swarm on a branch just a few feet away.

Local beekeeper Payse Smith, a friend of Lillie's and an experienced swarm catcher, was in the neighborhood and arrived on the scene. Over the course of a half hour he and I managed to manipulate all of the bees into the main swarm and secure several obstructive branches out of the way with cords. Payse climbed a ladder and prepared to shake the bees off their branch while I held up an empty deep super for them to land in.

On the count of three he gave the branch several hard shakes and I was showered with thousands of bees. A few stings and apologies were exchanged between the little ladies and I, fairly enough, and in the end they happily accept their new found home. I am proud and excited to report that SAGE bee garden has gained a colony!

Follow up: The next day Karessa and I inspected the new hive and found they had already begun drawing a significant amount of comb down from the inner cover into the empty deep super. After some discussion about our options, we made the decision to allow the bees to continue to draw comb naturally from the inner cover but to also leave another super (with frames) as its base so as to create a kind of hybrid hive - not quite a top bar, but not exactly a Langstroth either. It is a fun experiment and only time will tell how things will turn out. Come visit the garden any time to watch their progress!

- Chris
(Garden Education Americorps Assistant)