Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Progress: Asparagus & Hives

As you know, I'm very excited about my asparagus. Yesterday, a friend of mine, after I was rambling on about my asparagus plants, said: "You're so funny." I've become a source of amusement. "Here she goes again talking about vegetables, fruits, hens and bees . . . " It's okay, I can take it. 

As I was saying . . . Here are my Asparagus Plants! Aren't they looking fabulously? Come on, even if you don't like asparagus, these look great!
Because it is still quite chilly outside, their growth is slow. Once it warms up each plant will shoot up a new 'spear' every two days. And I have 28 asparagus plants. See, now it's exciting after all!
Asparagus are perennials and like Rhubarb the plants keep going and going and going for over 25 years. Amazing, eh?
Asparagus love compost, well drained soil and full sun, but aside from that they can grow in all kinds of places -- like along the side of your property. They are wonderful because you don't have to replant them every year and they start growth in early spring when you are months away from a fresh tomato or pepper!
I have about 5 spears that are just about ready to pick. Since they are our first ever to harvest, I'll have to share. Ooo . . . maybe in a primavera pasta!
Did you know that the super thin asparagus spears are from a male plant (these plants provide seeds, BTW) and the thicker spears are from the female plants. Isn't that interesting? I had always thought the thinner spears were from younger plants. Nope. Not so. Apparently the male plants are supposed to be even more productive. Before you men get excited, we could talk about male honey bees . . . 
But I digress.
Speaking of honey bees, I've finished painting my hives! Yipee!
Each hive will start out with only one of the deep boxes, called a brood chamber. Then, as the bees make comb, grow in numbers and fill the comb with honey and nectar I will have to add another deep box for an additional brood chamber. After that (which doesn't always happen in the first year) I will be able to add on a shorter box, called a honey super. The reason the honey super is generally shorter is simply because of weight. The boxes are very heavy once they are packed with comb and honey. For this reason the boxes I purchased are 8 framed hives as opposed to the more typical 10 frame. 

Today I am planning on finishing my foundation construction. I have 7 more frames to go to be ready for my bees on the 26th! Yesterday (at long last) we received our bee suits, hats and veils! We will have to model them for you later! I purchased an outfit for Benjamin (9) so that I can teach him the art of beekeeping. Why not? Once you learn it, no one can take that away from you. If he wants to keep bees when he's older, he will know how. One of our bee-teachers learned as a child from a farming neighbor and grew to love keeping bees, to the point where now he does it for a living! We should all be certain to teach our children the things we've learned from our parents and the things we've learned on our own. There is nothing like first hand experience, and it takes much less time than learning from scratch on your own!
Last night I picked up my new pickle jars! Why do I want this many pickles? Well, I don't really. I want the jars. This was recommended to us at our bee class as the ideal way to feed honey bees. Yes, at times you need to feed honey bees, particularly when they are placed in a brand new home, have to make comb, and the pollen and nectar aren't out in full force. What you do is punch small nail holes in the tops of the lids, fill them with sugar syrup, and flip it upside down on top of the hive, under the cover. I show all of this to you later when everything is ready! 

My thanks to Vivian for finding them for me! I knew I had the right woman on the job! Within days she called me to say "I found them!" It's not every day that you see jInormous glass pickle jars in the grocery store!


Michelle said...

Mmm. I love asparagus, and have always been interested in honeybees. Alas, I have neither here in the city. It makes me wish that I could have the city convenience with the sprawling country!

Cute blog--found you through Blicky Kitty.

Sandy said...

I hear you on the convenience thing! It was a shock when I moved from Providence. The good news is, having your own garden, etc., creates a different kind of convenience, albeit with a little work thrown in there! :)