About gDonna
The photo is my son and myself. Now days you can get a photo made to look old like this one. This photo was taken when this was the new look.

Harry S Truman was president when I was born and world war II had ended. I grew up in a time when lunch was put in a brown paper bag and a sandwich was wrapped with wax paper. There was no such thing as pantyhose, we wore stockings that attached to the rubbery clippy things that attached to the girdle. Convenience stores were not common and when we took a trip we packed a picnic basket because many places did not have fast food. Highways had places to pull over and stop, some with picnic tables. Read more ....

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The Observation Bench

March 28, 2022

Spring arrived this month and has put out some brilliant colors after a grayish winter.  I will enjoy this moment in time of these beautiful colors and warm and coolish days before the heat will once again put me into inside hibernation.  I feel a sense of urgency to get as much done as I can to beat the heat.

We started pruning the herbs and cleaned out many of the beds but still more to go.

We have had some good rain to help the spring flowers.

Then we get too much at times. This is over 4 inches of rain this day.

There is something about our soil where we live.  We can get torrential  rains and then our soil is completely dry three days later.  I must study about this and see why that is.

We are at the early part of our backyard food forest that we have each year.  We try to keep something growing in the garden all year around but in the summer it turns into a tall forest of vegetables. .  

These are onions and garlic growing in this tank that we planted this past fall and what they look like now.  A Blackeyed Susan has decided to grow inside the tank with the onions so that will be a nice colorful addition. 

A tiny dill plant grew into a large dill over winter in one of the tanks.  We have been so surprised that it survived the freezing temperatures.  If you have ever gardened  you will understand the gifts we get in the garden.  This is one of our gifts that came from a seed deposited from a bird or some kind of creature.

Each day I go out back to check the garden and each day these potatoes have grown by leaps and bounds.

Most everywhere we walk there is something edible and that has been what we have worked towards.  Just in this snapshot there are asparagus down in the lower left corner of the photo planted in the ground, Chocolate mint, peppermint, satsumas, an apple tree, onions, garlic, daikon radish and a lemon tree behind the apple tree.

The patio tanks most always are growing something, herbs, onions, garlic, radish, plantain.  So these onions have grown through winter...and...

A few weeks ago we planted our spring onions in the new beds that we made where the clothesline was.  

We have tomato plants tucked away all over the garden.

As well as different types of peppers.  We have bell peppers and sweet banana peppers, different types of hot peppers, which I do not eat, that is for Charles and anyone that does like hot peppers that we share with others because that is also part of gardening. 

Canning and preserving is the other part of gardening, small yard gardens can produce quite a bit of food if we choose to grow vegetables instead of grass.  Part of living more sustainable is having the right tools. Shovels, and rakes to plant the garden and then canners, and jars and lids or freezer containers to preserve that food.  

Our back yard is a flurry of activity.  We have paths all over the place with garden beds here and there and now trailing clotheslines along the paths. Some days it is shirts and pants and skirts and some days it is sheets and towels.    

This summer should be very interesting with our History study going on and our victory gardens trailing almost the entire front, side and backyard.  This garden will grow tall with the zucchini, okra, cucumber and tomato plants trailing all over the place.  

Remember that tomatoes are either determinate and indeterminate.  A determinate will grow to a fixed size and they ripen mostly at the same time period.  A indeterminate can grow vines and trail quite large and can produce tomatoes for a long period of time.  We most always grow indeterminate so we can eat the fresh tomatoes for a longer amount of time.  However if you want to can tomatoes, it is good to grow determinate tomatoes so your tomatoes will harvest close to the same time.  We have both determinate and indeterminate planted this year.

We are trying to use very little electricity, no more water than necessary and basically doing things the old way.   The water part is because we do not live a long time ago and our real time that we live, charges us for water coming in and water going out and the water going out has a much higher fee than the water coming in.   So basically we are trying to conserve to keep our bills down. We are also using water from our rain barrels for the garden because there are no chemicals in the water. 

We have been planting vegetables that we eat most often.  Potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, onions, peas, beans, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets.  Everyone has their own food choices so plant what you enjoy eating.  

Don't forget about planting fruit bushes and trees.  They will be there year after year.  

Asparagus is a vegetable that will come back each year for many years. The asparagus are just starting to emerge in our garden from their winters nap.  Charles went out and picked this one this morning.  When they first start emerging up we get some early ones so this can be cut up and added to most anything we are eating that day. You can sautee it and use it as a topping over your meal.  

With other vegetables, you may get just a few beans or one of something so just add it to what you are cooking for flavor.  

Do you remember the post I did when I mentioned that bees had made a home in our garden shed?  Top left hole in this picture above.  

Then I had this strong feeling to get a beehive box to see if we could possibly get the bees to move from the garden shed to the bee box.  

We have wanted a bee hive for our garden someday but someday came to the shed.  So Charles and I talked about it and we decided to get a box. We tried putting lemon grass in the box, something we read about but there was no way for us to get them out of the wall in the shed.  We knew we had to capture the queen to get the bees to go in the box but they were in the wall.  

A bee suit came with the box and we decided to ordered a second suit when we made the purchase, just in case we would buy some bees one day. But since the bees came, this has put us into a maybe it is time situation. 

So the bees remained in the wall going in and out of the hole in the wall. 

Then one early afternoon, Charles comes into the house to get me, "come with me!  I have to show you something!".  

The bees had swarmed out of the wall to the lemon tree.  It was a small swarm.  We started wondering if this had been a God nudge to get the box and suits before they swarmed since  we just happened to have bee suits and a smoker to calm the bees. 

We took the bee box and placed it on top of the ladder and Charles carefully climbed up and scooped the bees over and over and put them gently in the bee box. They kept flying back up to the tree.  This took quite some time because we were trying to be delicate with them and they were being fairly nice bees.  We also smoked them with the smoker, that we got with the kit.  Then after a while of trying they suddenly started staying in the box and flying into the box.  This is when we figured out we must have the queen in the box.

So to make a long story short, we had no idea what we were doing at that point other than what  we read online after getting the beehive box. We put the beehive box next to the lemon tree so it would have some shade in the hot afternoons, but it is not hot yet.  So we put the small entrance board for their doorway.  It can be turned to be larger but we wanted to encourage the queen to not swarm again.  Then thank goodness we had a very heavy rain an entire day.  They stayed inside.

Our bench is now the bee observation bench.  We respect them and they respect us.  We have an understanding, (we hope). Each morning we go out and sit and watch the bees come out and go in the box.  I talk to the bees and tell them about the family just like Queenie did in the book and movie series Larkrise to Candleford. 

We are taking a online beekeeping course and hoping that they will stay with us and remain alive until we can figure out what to do.  They have been in the box  9 days as of this day I am doing this post and they are flying out of the box to the blooms on the fruit trees and flowers and then back to the box.  Charles opened the box yesterday to see what is going on inside and he saw the queen. 

We have flipped the entrance board since I took this picture to open their doorway further and to get better circulation in the hive.  The temperatures are still cool at night so they are in the stage of keeping the board there but with a larger entrance than this first one.  So now we are cramming on the online course to learn as much as we can about the bees.  They have already taught us so much just observing them.  

This is Spring here and Fall for other countries all depending on where people live.  Either season, Spring or Fall is planting time, even if it is just one plant that gives you food.   :)  Grandma Donna

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