Saturday chores

At last, an almost entirely free day to get a bunch of stuff done in the garden. I had a long list that I'd been adding to all week, and I was anxious to get to it. First I had to go play membership chair at our local neighborhood pool, and then I had to give the house a cursory clean, which is a standing Saturday morning chore. Kate and I had an emergency trip to Target for a sundress to wear to a 'fashion' party. Then at last I could get outside.

First, I took a handheld rake and loosened the crust of chicken manure in the raised beds. Then I fertilized all the vegetables. I do believe the nitrogen boost is helping - the paste tomatoes have put out fruit, and the bush beans have beautiful purple blossoms.

Then I added dirt to the potatoes - they're growing a lot every day.

The yellow in this picture is not a potato bloom, it's a poppy behind the potatoes. I'll post a picture of the potato flowers when they arrive.

Then I added lots of late summer/early fall blooming flower seeds to the garden. The way I do this is fill a bucket with soil, add all the seeds to the bucket, mix it all together, and then broadcast them in the garden. This method always seems to promote germination, since the seeds have a little good dirt to start them out with. I included cosmos, rudibeckias, and zinnias, hoping for late-season bee forage.

Kate has a little garden by the back door, in which she had planted calendula, violas, primroses, lettuces, and a lantana. The lettuces and calendula were spent, and a lot of the violas and primroses didn't make it. So I cleared that bed out today and added seeds of alyssum, spinach, and more romaine.

Then I cleared out the peas and the carrots. There were a lot of carrots to harvest, but the peas were done fruiting. I pulled everything out, Tom cleaned up the bamboo trellis and took it apart for storage, and I did some light tilling of that bed. Then I dug out some compost from the bin. I got a good bucketful from one side.

I added it to the former pea/carrot bed and tilled it in lightly. Then I planted my sweet potato slips, which look great.

It's hot enough for them now, outside. They will get large and their vines will cover the entire 4x4 bed, but I might get some marigolds for the edges, while they fill out.

Then Tom and I tackled the catalpa tree. It's been excellent forage for the bees, you can stand under it and listen to the buzzing, but it was overgrown and shading too much of the raised bed area. So we hacked off some branches.

There's still a lot of blooming flowers on the tree, and they should last for another couple of days or so.

The butterfly bushes are blooming, the sticky monkey flower is going great, sunflowers are reaching for the sun, and I have a few mathilde poppies blooming right now. Another beautiful coffin for a dead bee:

I never used to find dead bees in my garden, but now I see one nearly every day in a flower. For some silly reason, it comforts me to see them so peaceful, being rocked in the breeze in a beautiful blossom.

We opened the hive today; the bees seem to have plenty of room, and there is plenty of brood. Still not a lot of honey. Later, I noticed them acting kind of funny, a lot of them flying around buzzing loudly, not sure what was going on. Many of them still 'beard' outside the hive when it's hot, and a small clump seem to like sleeping outside on the landing board, all grouped up. It's the wrong time of year for a swarm, so I'm not sure what made them so agitated this afternoon, but they seemed to have calmed down now.

I still need to wash the carrots, but once I do that and have an iced coffee, I'm headed for a dip in the pool. First, a snack, from the garden: