Spring Garlic Woes

Are your garlic plants looking a little yellow? Will a cold, damp spring bring molds? What can you do if there are problems? What are the signs to look for? Let’s weigh our options and figure out the best ways to prevent diseases.

Mystery Solved! Daphne laureola

As it turns out, Daphne laureola, aka Spurge Laurel, our mystery plant, is NOT a friendly plant! It is both dangerous and invasive! If you see it in your backyard (or elsewhere), destroy it ASAP! It is on the Noxious Weed list in Washington State and many others throughout the U.S. Do not touch it with your bare hands! The sap is highly poisonous.

Mysterious Plant

Case in point: for those of you who read my last blogpost all the way to the end (ahm…it’s ok if you didn’t get that far; unlike so many things in life, you can always go back), I was waxing philosophically about how wonderful it is to stumble across a new plant that you don’t remember planting. Its seed could very well have taken years to germinate, or possibly have been planted by a bird. And I said Read more…

Cracking the Seed Germination Code

To get your seeds to germinate, you might have to “think like a seed.” Many folks in the Pacific Northwest are starting seeds indoors this month for transplanting later, but some seeds germinate better with a period of cold or fluctuating cold/thaw cycles. They might be better planted directly in cold ground.

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!

willow winter

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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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!

Insect Hotel

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.

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?

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?

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!

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!

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??By Blythe, ago

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…

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!

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.

Willow room in spring

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.

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.