Thursday, May 1, 2014

Sowing seeds

A late start to seedlings this year, but they're getting done.  We expanded the seedling rack to 5 shelves and added more lights.  

Some of these seeds are really interesting looking, and some are very tiny, I'm not even sure if these are seeds or just dust in the packet.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

First flowers

Finally starting to get some more blooms around the house!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New stuff for the garden (hopefully)

We've already got the peas in the ground, even though it snowed today (April 16th!).  One type that we planted suggests trellising.  We planted the entire 8x3 bed, so single line trellises won't work, and since it's peas, we need to be able to reach into the middle to harvest, so we had to find a good solution for that.  Looking around at different trellis ideas, I like this one the best (not my photo):

or this:

We bought hinges and 1x2 boards last night to make them.  Since the bed is 8' long, we'll probably make two 4' trellises.  These may also work for tomatoes?  I'm not sure.  They'll certainly be tall enough, and overkill for the peas.

The past few years at this house, we've had a compost pile, but it's very far away from the house and the garden, so it was a total hassle to use and get to.  Impossible in the winter, and tick infested in the summer.  I'd like to make a bin nearer to the garden, but since I also photograph the garden a lot, I'd like it not to look like an eye sore.  Pallets are easy to come by around us, so I was thinking a pallet compost bin would be easy.  We've done the fence wire kind before and that worked ok, but harvesting out of it was kind of a pain.  And the drum style ones are woefully inadequate for our needs.  I found this one online (again not my pic) and I like it the best:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Garden center trip

Not a huge spree, but it's always nice to get out to the garden center. Today's trip was to Mahoney's of Winchester. We got a tiny rake, some grass seed, and some lime for the veggie garden beds. We also got a couple of blueberry bushes, let's see if we can get these to produce anything.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Learning about gardening

Learning about seedlings at school:

Helping in the garden at home: 

Checking out the bees that will pollinate the garden:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Colored pasta

Yesterday we decided to make some colored pasta for using in crafts and art. I couldn't find our rubbing alcohol, so I used a little vinegar instead. We took small handfuls of different pasta shapes and put then into ziplock baggies. Then I added a little bit (as little as possible) vinegar (maybe a teaspoon?) and a couple of drops of food coloring. And mixed. Even Z got to help!

Then we dumped the bags out to let the pasta dry. 

Later that night we made some bracelets. And we have a whole quart jar of beads left to play with!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Homemade play doh

It's not garden related, but it was still fun, and I'd like to keep the recipe handy, so here we go.  This isn't my video, but it's where I got the recipe.

Combine in a bowl:

3 cups flour
1 tbspn cream of tartar
1/2 cup salt

bring to a boil:

2 cups of water
4 tbspns vegetable oil

Combine in the bowl, stir well.  Add food coloring to smaller batches.  Makes a large-ish batch.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Refrigerator Pickles

This is the easiest and best recipe we've found for refrigerator pickles.  You can eat them as soon as a couple of hours, but a full day is better.  Using fresh cukes is best, as they stay crisper.  

1 cup vinegar
1.5 cups sugar
1 tbspn salt (I used canning salt, but i'm not sure it matters)
1 cup chopped onion
enough cukes to fit into jar. whole cukes not recommended.

Warm up the vinegar enough to dissolve the salt and sugar. Chop onions, put into jar, slice cukes, put into jar.  Pour hot vinegar/salt/sugar over. Stick in fridge when it cools down a bit.  Stuff more cukes in when you can (a couple of hours usually) - I can usually get 2 good sized cukes into a quart jar once they've soaked up some of the liquid. I sometimes end up with a bit extra liquid, so mash them in the jar over the sink. Keep in fridge. They're good the next day, and for weeks in the fridge. Enjoy!

The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar, but we cut it back and Mr. Finch says they're better this way.

Red onions make the liquid pink, and aren't really recommended.  Skipping the onions ruins the recipe entirely.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream

So, over our birthday weekend, we made homemade raspberry ice cream!  We picked fresh berries out of the back yard 2 days prior and by the time we were ready, they were moldy :(  We had put them right into the fridge and covered them, and still, no good.  So we had to use frozen.  Dang.  Still from our own raspberries, just last years.

We used this recipe, and it came out great:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

More Bees!

Steven from suggested I contact Marc Sevigny, who is a beekeeper in Harvard. So, I did, and Marc was kind enough to take an hour and a half of his day to show me how to open a hive, what all the honey and brood etc look like.

It was a gorgeous day, perfect beekeeping weather - sunny and warm. Bees are more docile when it's nice out, and today was no exception. Marc has 4 hives, one of which is new from a package this spring. One was going gangbusters with the honey, and he'd put 3-4 honey supers on it, so it was nearly 5 feet tall. One other one was looking pretty slow, with very few field bees coming in and out, so he determined that would be a good one to look at more carefully.

Marc graciously provided me with a full body bee suit, which was a comfort for my first encounter with open hives. I wasn't scared, per se, but a little unsure what to expect. Marc puffed a little smoke into the entrance of each hive and proceeded to crack the first one open. It was pretty well stuck down with propolis, the sticky, nasty substance that the bees gather from trees and use to seal up cracks in the hive. Unfortunately, they have a habit of sticking down the cover of the hive and pretty much everything in the hive. Marc said not everyone has equal problems with propolis, and his wasn't terrible, but it was somewhat annoying for him.

After taking off the top, there are just a ton of bees exposed on top of the frames. You expect them to all rise into the air, like if you disturb a cloud of flies, but they're totally not like that. Nearly all the bees just stay where they are, doing their work. We had pretty much no trouble with the first two hives we opened, and only a couple guard bees warning us off one of the more active hives.

The interior of the hives was incredibly interesting - thousands of bees working hard to put away nectar, tend the brood, etc. Marc showed me the brood patterns the queens had been laying in his hives... some were very good, some were not so good - a good pattern being totally packed together with no chambers left empty. He showed me capped honey comb, which is of course, most of the point of keeping bees in the first place. His big hive looked to have about a hundred pounds of honey in it, he said. One of the medium supers he had (about 6 inches tall, compared to 9 inches for the deep supers on the bottom, where the brood is laid) was mostly full, and was really heavy! I can definitely see why almost no one wants to use deep supers for honey - the mediums are bad enough!

Marc was a veritable fount of information. I was really glad I'd read a couple beekeeping books already, so I could keep up... but definitely seeing things in person made a huge difference.

After we'd opened all four hives and looked through them, we stopped a bit to talk about a variety of things. He told me about the house he'd bought there -it's a fantastic old property in what was originally a Shaker village in Harvard. There was even the ruin of a stone barn on his property! It was gorgeous, I just couldn't get over the setting. It's like something you'd see in a movie. I noticed some chickens running around, so we talked poultry for a little bit, since Mrs. Finch and I have chicks we've been raising. Marc also has sheep and a guard llama, which is incredibly interesting for my wife, since she knits and is planning on getting cashmere goats.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience and a great introduction to beekeeping. Marc said there are about 10 other beekeepers in Harvard that he knows of, and that they all more or less know each other. I am hopeful that I will be able to meet more of them, since I'm sure I'll have a thousand questions and will need plenty of guidance.

Is it spring yet? I want hives!