The B Life: July 2015

Life Everyday // Garden Progress

[1] Onion blossoms
[2] An unexpectedly purple Dahlia
[3] Tomato plants that have outgrown their large sized cages
[4] Spaghetti squash are getting larger by the day
[5] Nick blends in with the tomatoes
[6] Beginning to harvest

Summer is already half over! Where did the time go? It feels like yesterday that Nick and I expanded our garden patch and planted seedlings. Now, our growing season is mid production, and we're beginning to reap the fruits of our (quite literal) labour. 

I've been pleasantly surprised by the beautiful blooms on our second season onions, and the dahlia bulbs we started in early May have finally begun to produce beautiful blooms - the most gorgeous of which is the deep purple blossom in the second picture.

Our tomato plants are absolutely massive, and it's been a challenge to keep them at a manageable and healthy size. This week, Nick pulled off the lower branches, and some middle ones to help with tomato blight prevention. Last year, our entire tomato crop was overtaken by blight, and so we've been really careful to keep the plants monitored and healthy. They were showing early signs this week, but we gave them a dose of aspirin and water, and that seems to have solved some of the problem. We need to make sure there is proper airflow, so that the fungus cannot penetrate the leaves. 

We've also been fortunate enough to not have any squash borers burrow themselves into our very large spaghetti squash plants. I think that's because I have a butternut squash plant in the middle of my zucchini and squash vines. Borers hate butternut squash, and so it seems to be working as a natural deterrent. We did catch one of the moths in the Japanese Beetle trap Nick had set about 100 ft from the garden. It was a male moth (body colour was brighter), and its mate hasn't showed up, so we're hopeful our garden has avoided those pesky (and disgusting) Borers. 

Beans and Snow Peas have really taken off. I'm also going to have a bumper crop of jalepenos this year, so my tomatoes better survive. I want to make salsa before the summer is up, and I would rather not have to purchase a bushel of tomatoes for that.

The whole garden is looking spectacular. The only complaint I have is that my lavender plants seem to be off to a slow start. It's been really wet and rainy this year, so I can understand that it hasn't been the best weather for those subtle violet flowers. 

Thanks for stopping in! How're your gardens doing? Do you have any tricks for garden pests and tomato diseases? I'd love to hear about them. 

We 'Bee' Farming

Nick and I had our first honey harvest in the past few weeks. Those of you who follow along on Instagram may have noticed a rather funny (or slightly concerning, depending on who you are) collection of photos showing off Nick's cheekbone bee sting. We weren't terribly concerned, nor sympathetic, as Nick was not wearing his bee suit, and took the lid off the hive more aggressively than usual. For any of you who missed it, here's a picture of day 3 - and our second time at the hospital. 

The whole week was a bit of a haze. Saturday, Nick and I were at a wedding, and then Sunday we were getting the honey filled frames ready for harvest. Nick wanted to show myself and his sister what the full frames looked like, and he was a little zealous in his attempt to get into the hive. He also wasn't wearing his bee suit. The little bugger when straight for his eye and got him. We pulled the stinger, iced his face, and put some Polysporin on. We continued honey extraction without any hitches and left the honey in a big bucket overnight so that any remaining comb would separate (it's supposed to do this).

The next morning, Nick woke up with a swollen eye. He immediately send me a picture (which I will not post here), and we got some ice on it and pumped him with Benadryl. After about 8 hours of jarring honey, and no relief on the sting front, we trudged on up to the ER where they gave him a shot of Benadryl, and told him to go home. 

On Tuesday, the swelling progressed over his whole face, and his lips and chin were tingling a little, so off we went to the After-Hours clinic, where the Doctor told him to stop taking Benadryl, put him on a steroid to take down the swelling, and Reactine because it's non-drowsy. He also came out with a Doctor's Note prescribing him to be off work for the week since his vision was impaired and he couldn't drive. 

On the whole, there was quite a bit of humorous jokes make on his account, and I felt like I was dating Quasimodo (the Hunchback of Notre Dame), for a few days. 

(DISCLAIMER: Nick is not allergic, and this was not an allergic reaction. It was, however, localized swelling from a very angry winged female who was not happy to have been disturbed.)

I'm happy to report that Nick's face is back to normal, and there have been no more bee stings. We even got around to printing cute labels and decorating the lids of the honey! We also tried our luck at making candles this weekend. Although the jars for the candles are a different take on the traditional mason jar, I have found that it only burns the wax within a 1 inch radius around the wick. 

We've got twice as many frames that will need to be harvested again within the next few weeks. Our hope is that we'll be able to get everything ready and put up a small stand in our town's Saturday Farmer's Market! Let me know what you think of the finished jars and labels!  

I feel like I am almost fully domesticated now (which I actually say with endearment, and not out of spite), and not in the way you domesticate a horse or a dog, but just capable of producing homemade goods and living sustainably. I love the simplicity and relaxation of making things - bread, jam, candles, honey. I think they are valuable skills to know, and they promote healthier living in the process.

Anyways, have a wonderful week! Thanks for stopping in. 


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