Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Home for the Bees

I have wanted to keep bees for a long time now. You see, my Grandpa Krause was a beekeeper back in Humbolt Co. and it has always fascinated me... BUT! I have taken a solemn vow to hold off on the hives until I graduate from Vet School. Now, while that vow is still safe, I do have a new home for bees in my garden!!! HURRAY!

It's for Mason Bees!  

 I've been hearing for years from Mike McGrath on "You Bet Your Garden," that native pollinators are just as (or more) important to gardens as the non-native honey bee. So, when I recently discovered that these poor guys had been trying to live in the handle of one of my watering cans, and then drowning, I decided to build them a little condo. I also turned the can upside down. Hopefully they'll get the hint. 

I have found this project to be really, really simple and very cheap. 

What I used:

-a drill
-a 5/16 drill bit
-a piece of scrap wood (preferably un-treated)
- 3 screws 
- a fence post (near the garden)

 This is the scrap piece of wood that was left over from a garden bed I put in out front. I am unsure if it's treated. 
 These are the bits that I had to choose from. In my very brief research I found out that 5/16 inch was the size hole that mason bees prefer to live in. LUCKY ME, we had that size. 

I drilled a very crude hole in the back to fit over the screw so it could hang from the fence. 

Then I Drilled 
a lot.

I kinda felt like a "Maverick!" 

Pretty Nice
 I did have to put a few extra screws under the condo as bracing. I think this may have had something to do with the crudeness of the hanging hole. 
I have the "Bee Condo" kinda highlighted in the background.

I think if I make another one I'll put more holes in it or maybe do something like this. All in all, I think this project went pretty well. If I see any tenants I'll post an update.

Here is a link to instructions to build a Mason Bee House
Here's a nice house you can purchase that my buddy and classmate Andy found. (It seems us vet students are often geeks in similar ways)

(another link to Mason Bees)


The hens enjoying some watermelon. Those poor girls are really stressed by this heat.

 I mowed around the pumpkins. So far, even with some squash bugs, they are growing well. Although, I haven't seen them setting any fruit.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Salsa, Ears and Strawberry Stress

Hello again

Well, the garden is really cookin' (HA!). Apparently it was the hottest June Oklahoma has had since 1911. The heat has been pretty good for the tomatoes, great for the corn and super bad for the poor poor strawberry plants.


I have been making fresh salsa since I first started gardening. It's just fun and easy!

I use:
-a handful of fresh cilantro
-fresh squeezed lemon juice
-home grown garlic & onions
-Anaheim peppers
-salt & pepper
-and a whole bunch of home grown tomatoes
(cherry & standard sized).

Someday I hope to get it all from my garden, but this year I grew peppers that are MUCH too hot for me, my cilantro bolted in early june and well I don't know how to grow lemons here. (I guess I could get a dwarf variety and grow it in doors...
maybe next year...

not sure what this die off is about. The rest of this tomato plant is great though


And now The Strawberries!

This how most of my strawberry plants looked after forgetting to water them for ONE DAY!!!

It's just not fair. 

So, I moved them to the shady side of the house (the front) and I hope they will survive this super summer out there.

Another factor that seemed to play a roll was the type of container. All of the plants in plastic pots were much less stressed.
I may have to re-evaluate keeping them in terracotta pots... or not.

*** update: Terra Cotta Pot Sealer. I'm not sure how toxic it is, but it may be worth looking into.***

AND the EARS!!!

I have Corn Corn Corn!! And I did not have to grow it in a block! TAKE THAT CONVENTION!

Oh and there is more where that came from! 
The 2nd crop just started pushing it's tassels out. 

Here are 2 bonus pictures

I love this Bell Pepper (Golden Bell) I haven't let them turn yellow though.
 I always pick them when they're light green.


Brussels Sprouts! I hope they turn out because I really love to eat them.