Monday, June 27, 2011

Nanci's Cantalope and other interesting things

Jeannie Berg found out about Pike melons. This is a cantaloupe developed for the Willamette Valley by Oregon State University many years ago. It fell out of use as is has no shelf life. It will spoil within two days after picking and it must be picked ripe.

She researched and found that the seeds for this delicious melon were available from a supplier in South Carolina. Early in 2011 Jeannie was featured in an article in the Statesman Journal and she talked about the seeds.

A few weeks later she received a two single-spaced hand typed letter from a gentleman who lived here in Salem, had developed the melon with Pike and had been growing the melons for years and saving the precious seeds. He sent her 2 pounds of his seeds with directions on growing them successfully here in the Valley.

Jeannie started seeds in her green house and when the warmer weather finally came to the valley she planted starts on her farm. Once they have grown Jeannie will have some melons for sale at the Salem Farmers Market or at

the Independence Market

later this summer. Those lucky people that have one of Jeannie’s CSA shares will get some also.

Today Jeannie is planting two here in my garden.

We put egg shell pieces around the plants to retard slugs and compost from the composter for additional nutrients.

Earlier this Spring we folded wax paper hats for the Pike Melon exactly as suggested by our local mentor.

I am looking forward to a good melon or more. I am hoping for melons like one grown by my father in Illinois.

Janita’s seed ball…Janita gave me one of her seed balls, a gift from one of her SLP’s. Here is the result, so far. June 27.

In other garden news I have a very small tomato given to me by a co-worker, Amy. She got this from the Salem Harvest group. I was attracted to the purple leaves. Both Jeannie and Jayme (the tomato expert) explained that this was due to a lack of magnesium. The fix was to put a teaspoon of Epsom salts in a quart of water and “feed” it to the plant.

Two doses and I no longer have purple leaves, but a happy plant.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

end of May Bees...zz.zz

End of May…Bee report.

This sign was a gift to the bees from Betsy Bailey. It is along the fence where Jeannie Berg has planted the insect hedge (local flowering plants for the season). Continuing along there is the hive. This is a cedar Top Bar hive from . I was able to pick mine up in Wilsonville. I love this hive because it smells good and I can see the bees everyday.

I got a bench to put next to the fence so one can sit and watch them with the door open. I am sure it will not be long before I am out there knitting with the bees.

Well a bad thing happened about a week ago. My house had been pressure washed and the eves painted. That part is good as the house looks great (Ed Carlson – 503 390. 2579). When they washed and painted they misplaced all of the yellow jackets, hornets and wasps that had taken up living in the eves of the house. That too is good, BUT the yellow jackets decided the sugar water in the beehive was fair ground and they moved in…the bees didn’t care they were busy building comb, getting honey and raising brood. In fact they usually don’t care if I open the hive or if I am in their way as they leave and return for nectar. But I noticed through the observation window that they were going through sugar water (1 cup sugar to 1 cup water blended). So I came to replace the water and I was “greeted” by upset insects. One flew up and got caught in my shirtsleeve under the arm. (You are right not one of the honeybees, but a yellow jacket). The sting did not bother me at the time, but as Janita will tell you I was affected…later that day. The next morning I woke with horrible joint pain and a headache. It was not until that afternoon that I noticed itching at the sting site and there was a welt and infection spreading about 4 inches from the site.

Honeybees will not leave an infection. Their stinger is barbed and it comes out along with their intestines when they sting. This means if they do need to sting to defend the hive they will not bring back germs or other things to the hive. A part of the reason all honey is pure and clean.

I definitely had an infection, but was able to fight it off and did not need antibiotics. I will have epinephrine on hand from now on as a precaution. I am well, but wanted to give the honeybees more room in the hive by removing the sugar water jar to give them more room to draw comb. They have taken care of the yellow jackets, which are not longer there and they are back to their business, not at all bothered by my opening the hive and getting the jar out.

Today when Jeannie and I looked in the observation window, we noticed what appears to be a queen cell or two. I am hoping that the extra room will help in keeping them from swarming.

It is so much fun to see and work the bees. No honey until next spring after they have wintered over.

Bees are very busy as we are now in “nectar flow” season. They were in the raspberries, strawberries and even enjoying a blooming cabbage in the garden. They have lavender coming on and then roses and then their insect hedge will begin blooming. The yard was actually a buzz with happiness. (Sweet as honey)