Wednesday, May 11, 2011

the "farm" garden 5/9/11

Here are the chickens. Audrey and Phyllis are the Banty Cochins’ in the front and Alabaster the biggest chicken is in the back. You can’t see Amethyst well. Amethyst and Alabaster are Americana’s. All four are laying hens. Audrey just started laying.

Here is a picture of the “orchard”. It is a small raised bed about 6X4 feet. The blooming trees are the apple espalier trees. There are four kinds of apples on each. The other espalier trees are the pear trees with bartlet and Anjou pears on each. In the center are two columnar apple trees. This is the second year for them.

The Pear trees have a problem. The red spots on the leaves are not good. Jeannie is not certain if this is a virus, mite, or fungus. We are guessing fungus, as it has been such a wet spring. So today we sprayed with Safer, which is for fungus and mite. We used a shield as we sprayed to insure that no spray got on the apple blooms. We don’t want the bees to be at risk.

I went into the beehive and removed the empty sugar water feeder. The bees seem happy. They are flying more as the days become longer. We could see some sealed cells through the observation window.

The peas, planted in Dec. 2010 are in bloom.

We planted two more tomato plants. Juan Flame, which is the favorite of local chef’s and the author of the Heirloom tomato book. When she was asked if she could have a field on only one tomato which would it be. Is what she would choose. Purple lalabaugh is Jamie’s favorite, people love this one and come up to the stand just to smell then buy.

We added some fava bean to the insect hedge, which has lots of tiny shoots. We planted seeds for tombocini and yellow zucchini and butternut squash. We planted some celery plants and some yellow cauliflower.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Quick solar panel tour

It is May 4, 2011 and the best solar day to date. It is 6 pm. We are facing North and the panels are facing due South. As you can see the house is shaded by the tree on the West. The sun's angle to the horizon is at 60 degrees. In the winter the tree shades the panels in the late afternoon as the sun angle is less. In the Summer the angle is greater and solar collection improves. Savings per month averages about $80.
As you can see there are 20- 3 foot by 5 foot photo-voltaic panels. Even though Oregon is well known for having many rainy days it is still considered a good solar energy location. The panels do work through out the year even in rain (just not nearly as much as would be desired).
This is the side of the house where the energy collected is sent to the solar converter, located on the inside of the garage. Each panel is a 190 watt panel or 3800 watts total.
This is the outside gage which is read by the Power company. When I had the older wheel, I delighted in coming out to see the wheel going backwards meaning I was making the electric energy. All of the power goes into the electric power grid. I get my bill each month along with a letter telling me how many Kilowatts of energy the panel. My bill is usually lower than my neighbors. During the Summer when air conditioning in needed my bill does not go up.
In the garage, on the left is my breaker box, next the solar power collector (on/off) switch. You can see the tube at the left top of the box bringing the power in from the panels. The large silver and blue box (Fronius IG) in the middle converts the energy. Finally the right gage tells how much power is being made.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Visit from Your HOme Harvests 5/2/11

The mason bee house. The robin nest on top is not being used so far this year. The tubes on the shelf under the green roof are new. You can see one entering (hopefully with an egg) The tubes below, some of them sealed off are not clean this year and not viable, but I will clean them for next year as they are clear and we can see the bee's development in the clear tubes inside.
The blueberry flowers in front, the peas to the back and left planted 12/10 and 18 in tall, and the tiny carrot sprouts to the right and back planted about 3 weeks ago are 1 inch high.
We are concerned about the espalier pears. They have a mite. Jeannie is choosing a safe spray.
We planted tomatoes - Stupus my pick because I am supposed to have tomatoes in July- Chocolate Cherry (evaluated by an 8 yr. old last summer as "almost as good as ice cream")- Eva Purple - Jeannie likes this as it has someone's name.
Behind the fencing are new seedlings. These are native plants/weeds that will flower all summer for the bees "delight".
Next we check the bees. their sugar water is to the left. They have used 1/2 a pint. They are gettingmore from the environment.
First we always check the chickens. Here is Amathest. She is the lead chicken.
The chickens are now laying 2-3 eggs a day.