Browsing Posts published on 22/03/2012

Its all happening on Plot 34.

Ian and I got down to my plot just before lunch today after a fun morning up at LEAF building ‘houses for bees’.Its a PEAR tree?!  Right?

Today’s task would be: More digging!

Before we could even think about doing that, though, we had to have a ‘little wander round’ to see if there were any signs of emergent life.

And I’m very pleased to announce that there were!  It seemed like all about us, life was bursting to get out of the soil!

Our first onion making it's dash for the sky!To the left here you can see the first onion, making it’s ‘bid for the sky’ as the first shoots spring up.  I swear this wasn’t like that just the other day.

Elsewhere, other plants were taking advantage of the warm spring sunshine, and the new rhubarb (…Thanks Jon!..) has wasted no time in sprouting, either.Rhubar, rhubarb!

To the right here you can see one of the two new crowns, and I can’t help thinking of Matt’s superb rhubarb and whatever pies from last summer.  Who knows, I may be inspired this year to have a go and make a pie or crumble to bring down myself one Saturday for all our LEAF volunteers.

If I am inspired, then I’ll be sure to get loads of pictures as I completely trash my kitchen in the process!

In most of the corners of the big onion bed we have roses that both Ian and I have pruned.  Well, Ian has pruned most of them, and I’ve hacked one to bits.  I thought when I’d done this ‘rough pruning’ that I’d surely killed the rose, but today there were new shoots on it.New growth from my 'hacked up' rose bush.

Here it is to the left, and you can clearly see the new red shoots beginning to form.  Amazing that even I can hack at something like the complete amateur I am and it still has a go at recovering.

Also showing this morning were the first signs of life from the first bed I cleared and planted up.  I have a couple of photos, but as I can’t remember what went where without looking at the ‘map’, I’ll leave them for another day…

So today, we carried on clearing the bed I’m been telling you about, and we certainly made good progress.  Despite the dock plants, bindweed, dandelions and couch grass seemingly ganging up on us by insisting on growing all together at the same time completely intertwined, we’ve managed to clear right back to the small greenhouse.Part way through today's clearing.

To the right here is Ian in front of the yellow ‘folly’ left by the previous tenant.  Getting rid of this would be a major headache because there was a well-established jasmine plant right in front, growing through some plastic netting in both directions!

Folly?  What folly?!This shot to the left shows the area after we’d carefully cut the jasmine free and gently lifted the rotted wooden posts, yellow gas pipe and other detritus out of the way.

Particularly satisfying was cutting the huge bramble to the right of this structure, directly in front of the little greenhouse.  Even though blackberry stems and roots are fearsomely strong and exceedingly nasty to get caught on, when you show them a pair of sharp secateurs, they’re very easy and oh-so-satisfying to cut through.  Just make sure you’re wearing decent gloves -or even gauntlets.

And long trousers!

All too soon it was home time for the pair of us.  As we can both attest; ‘Hell hath no fury like a hungry cat’!

If the weather behaves itself, there’ll be more tomorrow!




Fun in the sun. 22/03/12

After this morning’s early low, clinging mist, the sun soon came out, and as we had our Head Beekeeper, Charles arriving, it made working outside all the more enjoyable.The demonstration hive.

Today he brought with him a ‘demonstration hive’ of a single comb with glass on either side.  You can see it here to the right with Fran eagerly snapping away with Diane’s camera, Diane next to her and Gary to her left with his camera phone.

I waited while everyone had had a good look and had taken shots on their various cameras before I got up close with my own.Close-up of the demonstration hive.

Its a shame this shot on the left here didn’t come out any better, but the sun angle was wrong, and I couldn’t help but get the reflection of the box in the glass side.

Still, if you click on this image to get the enlarged version, you’ll see the bees hard at work.

There’s something about bees, how they live and work that I find totally fascinating.  I really could quite happily sit all day just watching them.

After we’d ooh-ed and aah-ed for a good while (…of course drinking tea at the same time!..), it was time to crack on and get some frames built for the hives being delivered in a couple of weeks.

Moving down to by the greenhouse and the large working area this affords, Charles wasted no time in showing us how to build a frame.Building a frame.

The parts for these come ‘flat-packed’ (…A bit like IKEA, but with no screws missing!..), so all you have to do it knock them together and then insert the ‘former’ that the wax comb is built up on by the bees.  Sometimes, the wax formers are a little misshapen or over-sized -ours today were just a gnats too long, but a sharp Stanley knife and a straight edged rule soon sorted that out.

Once the comb former is in, its a simple matter to tack it together using quite long tacks so they go right through the wood.Tacking it together.

To the left here you can see Charles putting the bottom three tacks in which line up nicely with the metal ‘hoops’ embedded within the comb itself.

We seemed to take forever building these, but Charles says that with a little practise on a cold winter’s day (…indoors, obviously!..), he can knock together about 30 an hour.  Practice makes perfect!And we have a go!

To the right here you can see Fran on the left next to Pam who’s standing next to Carol.  From the right inwards we have PXI Nick, Shaun, Gary then Jon on the far right.

Someone laughingly remembered ‘The Generation Game’ with pairs of contestants having just a couple of minutes to complete some task.  Well, this took us a few more than a couple of minutes!

I left the group early to go do some digging down on my plot, but not before I’d made a couple of frames up, and here you can see my first in the new super that in just a few weeks time will literally be buzzing!Grafitti.

As you can probably work out, each of these will hold ten frames.

In total we made up fifty frames for our five hives.

Not bad going for complete beginners, eh?

Buzzin’! 22/03/12

Today our new Head Beekeeper, Charles, is due down to The Plots for about 10.30am.

He’ll be here to meet and greet us, but also to join us in making the frames for the five new bee hives we’ll be having delivered in just a couple of weeks time.

All exciting stuff!

I’ll Blog later with photos to tell you how it all went.

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