Crocus, Frogs, and Bees! Oh My!

LOVE the "firsts" that happen in January! First crocus, alder catkins, croaking frogs! This warm weather has brought out the bees, and they are returning with pollen! And look! The garlic shoots are up! Farewell January. Bring on Spring!

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Fruits of December

Why isn't the Winter Solstice the beginning of the New Year? Where are the birds & the bees? How many different fruits can we find in the garden in mid-December? Pondering these questions and more…and wishing everyone a season of light and hope!

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It’s Your Day

When a helium balloon lands mysteriously in the Barbolian Fields backyard, what could it possibly mean??? And what could it possibly have to do with blogging or permaculture or anything relevant? You will have to read to find out!

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Caterpillar Slaughter

I have squished them with my bare hands, blasted the nests open with a power hose, sprayed them with vinegar, burned them alive with a blow torch, and for those that survived all that, drowned them in soapy water. Yes, we are talking about tent caterpillars. Fair warning: this post is not for the faint of heart!

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Bee Swarm Saga

This is a true tale of honeybee determination, courage, against-all-odds survival, instinct over reason, fate, and loyalty to the point of willing to give up one’s own life for the protection of one’s brethren. Also a few of my thoughts on bee intelligence.

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Earth Day: Plant Something for the Bees!

Whether you recycle, upcycle, bicycle, reduce your footprint, make a footprint, go for a simple walk, plant a tree - so much we can do to celebrate Earth Day! My advice, if nothing else, plant a seed! Take care of our bees and they will help feed the world!

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Early Spring Blooms to Welcome the Bees

Do you keep a record of what is bloom throughout the year? Since we started keeping bees, I have become much more aware of what is blooming when - particularly during those months on either end of the warm season, when the weather is unsettled and food for them can be scarce. Here is my current list.

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Identity Crisis 101: The Niche-Diversity-Resiliency Equation

This post is about focus, unfocus, hocus-pocus, and how diversity helps battle adversity. All this and figuring out how to define who you are, what you do, and what you can offer in 24 words or less - which is pretty much an identity crisis. Obviously, I took more that 24 words.

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Spring Equinox: A Tipping Point

At last! We have reached that tipping point: the Vernal Equinox - when day and night are equal. Sunshine ahead! It is more important than ever to plant a garden this year - and in the process, make the world a better place.

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Seed Order 2014

“By now you should have a pretty good idea what you will be growing and where...” That’s a quote from Erica over at NW Edible Life. If you are not quite this together, take heart. Here's a post about narrowing the seed decision. Or not.

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What Worked – or NOT – in the 2013 Garden

Bees, bee plants, rainwater catchment, spiral gardens, scything, mulching, garlic, unusual fruits, perennial vegetables: here is what worked (or NOT) in our garden last year. Incorporating ideas for 2014….

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Good Fungi vs Bad Fungi, Molds, Mildews, and Blights

When it comes to mold and fungi, how do you tell the good guys from the bad guys? This post provides several preventative measures as well as quick fixes to mildew, molds, and blights. The key: focus on improving the entire immune system. Treat the whole system, not just the symptom.

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Solstice, Suntracks, Supermoons, and a Happy New Year!

A thank you to those who take time out of your busy schedules to read my crazy blog - and a few thoughts on the solstice, tracking the sun, full moons, new moons, supermoons, holidays, the New Year, and cavorting beneath full moons. Why not? Happy New Year!

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Favorite Garden Photos of 2013

The problem with getting a new camera for Christmas in 2012 was trying to sort through over 1000 garden photos! I see I am attracted to symmetry, contrast, and bees! Here are a few of my favorite shots, that STILL can't begin to capture the beauty and perfection of Mother Nature!

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To Convert an Orchard to a Food Forest, Start with the Soil

If you want to convert an old orchard to a self-sustaining food forest, start with the SOIL. Billions of creatures can live in a single teaspoon, all connected by miles of fungal mycelium. It's an entire universe beneath our feet. Prepare to be amazed.

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Thanksgiving Connections

Wishing you abundance in your life and in that of all those you touch. May your holiday be full of love and laughter! Thanksgiving is every day - and every day an opportunity to make a difference.

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November Blooms

It is past the middle of November, temperatures are dipping into the 20s, and yet - oh my! - so many blooms in the garden! The bees, when they venture out, are particularly grateful. An I, too, appreciate them all that much more now!

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Garlic Planting Conundrums – Part 3

How much garlic you should grow? How much space do you need? Mulch? Till? Tools? How do you build beds? A few practical things about answering these important garlic-planting questions and preparing ground, particularly under less-than-ideal conditions.

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Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2

Garlic Planting Conundrums, Part 2, in which we ask, where can you fit garlic in a permaculture landscape, what about companion planting with garlic, and what is the most efficient way to grow really great garlic?

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October Spiderwebs

On the Eve of All Hallows… when according to the ancient Celtics, we enter the dark half of the year… …spiders cover the world with glitter… (a garden gallery at Barbolian Fields)

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Garlic for Barter and Trade

What do 3 dozen eggs, 3 bottles of honey, and a beautiful handcrafted dish have to do with garlic? Barter Fare! A new economy is emerging - one that is deeply connected to the earth, self-sufficiency, living simply - one that places more value on human connection than on the almighty dollar - one in which trust, friendship, and the trade of goods and skills can strengthen local communities. And hey, this stuff is just so cool!

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Building an Insect Hotel
The finished insect hotel in a sunny spot at the edge of Barbolian Fields.

Building an Insect Hotel

Honeybees have their cozy hive, but what about all the other pollinators out there? Where will they overwinter? Upcycle your junk into an Insect Hotel! As crazy & elaborate as you make it. Very fun educational craft for kids, too.

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Let’s Do a Bee Walk

For Farm Tour Day, my friend, Sid, who runs Annie's Flower Farm, asked me to do a "Bee Walk." What is that? Something you make up as you go! We took a stroll through the gardens and kept a close eye out for honeybees, native pollinators, and even frogs. And why do some bees like some flowers and other pollinators prefer something different? And what can they tell us about how much we need one another?

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What’s to Eat?

Late summer can be a time of dearth, which can spell death for the bees. Most plants are producing fruit or seed. What is blooming now that provides nectar and pollen? And do your bees have access to water?

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2013 Garlic Crop Is In!

The 2013 garlic harvest is IN and lookin' good! However (and this is a big however), quantities are limited. I cut back on both the number and varieties of bulbs this year. This blogpost givesa few reasons why. If you are in the Sequim, WA area, we still have some for sale, while they last!

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Yellow Tips on Garlic and Other Growing Dilemmas

Critical time in the garlic patch! Yellow tips? Yellowing leaves? How much to water? Fertilizer? Cut the scapes or not? When to harvest? Part science; part experience; part juju. I hope we can answer your questions.

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A Gentle Way to Install a Swarm

We were loading up a humongous potato salad for a Mother's Day feast when what's this? ANOTHER bee swarm! Our swarm boxes made this swarm catch & installation so incredibly easy and gentle. No chaotic frenzy! When it comes to bees, I like that!

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The Morning After….

Ok. Mass chaos yesterday in catching the swarm that was wrapped around a steel fencepost & in installing them in a new Warre Hive, but at least they are in there. But what's this? ANOTHER swarm in the garden? NOW what?? Read More...

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The Bee Saga Continues

…The bee saga continues…. Where did the swarm on the cedar go - in the bait box in the tree or in the hive on the ground? And what's this? MORE excitement the morning after? Adventures in backyard beekeeping...

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Swarm Alert!

We noticed the little cedar tree over by the beehives looked a bit odd yesterday - and as we got closer, we realized, Holey Moley! a swarm of bees was almost completely covering it! Now for the hard part: how to persuade them to move into our hive!

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Avoiding Shaken Bee Syndrome

Does anyone else out there see the utter impossibility of shaking 15,000 bees through a small hole in the center of a box DOWN into another box without them all just flying UP into your face??? There has to be a gentler way. In my attempt to avoid Shaken Bee Syndrome, I managed to completely botch this bee installation. Learn from me and avoid. Or follow. The choice is yours.

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A Quiet Place for Peace
The willow room takes on a life of its own.

A Quiet Place for Peace

The Willow Room in spring takes on a life of its own. Individually, the reeds are supple. They bend with the forces that shape them. Together, however, they are strong - forever interlocked. Recent events in Boston remind us how together we are stronger, and, too, how each of us needs an inner garden sanctuary in which to find peace and make sense of this world.

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Urgent: Weed Your Garlic!

It’s officially spring and that means the beginning of Panic Season! So much to DO! Here is one more urgent task on your to-do list: WEED YOUR GARLIC. Early Spring is the most important weeding you will EVER DO in your garlic bed - and here is why.

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Plant and Seed Quest 2013

Still looking for heirloom, open-pollinated, non-GMO plants and seeds? Check out this list! So many to choose from! And what an opportunity for each of us to be a steward of our food heritage!

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Happy Day – Rodent or Otherwise

What? Looking for shadows to predict weather? I'd say the bees are better indicators! As well as the snow geese, the pussy willows, and the Cornelian cherry…not hard to find things that say Life is Good! Happy Groundhog Day!

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Garden Resolutions, Goals, and To-Dos for 2013

Personally, I think New Year's resolutions are over-rated and goal-setting can be counterproductive. A To-Do list, though, Yes! Break it down into action items! Here's what's in store for the garden!

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