Bee Rescue in Norwalk

Roberta and I headed down to Norwalk to help a family with two issues: bees in a stucco wall and a bee hive in a tree.  We took apart part of the stucco wall with a sledgehammer and pulled out the honeycomb!  It was a dwindling hive that needed no removal.  They had no queen and no brood and were dying out.  The wall, however, needs to be removed or filled to prevent more bees from moving in.

Honeycomb in a Stucco Wall

We pulled out all of the honeycomb.

Lots of Honeycomb

The family also had a hive in a tree.  This required a trap out – a trap that would allow the bees to get out but not back in!

Tree Hive

The concept works like a backwards fish trap.

Fish Trap - fish get in but not out

Tree Trap Out

Bees can get out but not back in.  We place a box near the hole and the bees move into the box when they can’t get back into their hive.  In a week or two, we come and get a box of bees (at night when they are all home) and move them to a new home!

Trap Out Completed

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New Hobby: Bee Rescue

I’ve have a new hobby!  Bee rescue with the Backwards Beekeepers.  Today, I joined Roberta and Rob in removing a hive from a tangerine tree in Culver City.  We finished at 10 p.m.!  This hive had built comb out on the branches.  The way that we “rescued” the bee hive (live removal as opposed to exterminating them) was to clip the branches around it and then to saw off the branch they were on, with one person holding it.  Then we guided the branch into a box.  Best to let the pictures demonstrate:

Hive in the Middle of the Branches

Closer shot of the bees

Beautiful Honeycomb

Rob holding the hive, safely down

Close up on the hive

Bees packed on the truck!

Our job is finished!

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Garden Update

I intersperse flowers with my vegetables in order to bring my bees to pollinate.  The bees are loving my sunflowers right now – see her stuffed pollen sacs?Other friendly bugs are in my garden.I started growing Trombetta di Albenga this year.Today I harvested my first Trombetta.  It was absolutely delicious!  This is how I cooked it:  I added Olive Oil to the pan and added 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Fried those up a bit.

I next added one Trombetta, thinly sliced, and another clove of minced garlic.

I cooked it for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the last minute, I added some fresh French Tarragon leaves and a healthy handful of a fresh parmesan/romano mix.

My Kamo Kamo, a traditional pumpkin-style squash of the Maori of New Zealand has started its climb.  It is used as both a summer and a winter squash!The cucumbers are coming in.Some eggplant is forming.There are a lot of green tomatoes!And the Sungold cherry tomatoes are starting to ripen!

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Busy Bees

My bees are expanding and are busy.  It’s fun to watch them fly in and out – it looks like LAX.

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What to Grow in Los Angeles/So Cal in June

If you are a new gardener, you’ll want to know a little bit about harvesting the fruit of your labor.  Harvest leaf plants, root veggies and summer squash while they are young and tender.  Fertilize everything once a month except beans.  (I use worm tea as my fertilizer).  Make sure to water regularly as it gets hotter.

Vegetables: Although it will begin to get hotter this month, there are still a number of veggies we can plant here from seed.  These include corn, cucumber, green beans, lima beans, leaf lettuce (its better if its shaded by something like tomatoes), okra, peppers, pumpkins, New Zealand spinach (I buy mine from http://www.bakerseeds.com), summer and winter squash and melons.  Additionally, some veggies can be planted from seed year-round here.  These are beets, carrots, Swiss chard, radishes and turnips.  Transplant eggplant and peppers.  For a later tomato crop, you can still plant from seed now or transplant tomatoes next month.

Herbs: You can also transplant basil, cilantro,oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, summer savory and thyme.  You can seed-plant basil and parsley.

Flowers: You can plant summer annuals from seed but it will be a short season for them.  Obviously, the sooner, the better.  These include anchusa, coleus, cosmos, lobelia, marigold, portulaca, sunflower (especially dwarf), sweet alyssum and zinnia.  As transplants, plant bearded irises, bellflower, black-eyed susan, coneflower, fuchsias, morning glories (which are invasive but also drought resistant), orchid cacti, periwinkle.

Tropicals:  Plant tropical fruit trees such as avocado, banana, cherimoya, citrus and pineapple guava.  Keep them well watered until established.

One of the most important things in Southern California from now until the end of summer is to water regularly.  And, if you are a new gardener, please tell me how it is going!

Posted in Beans & Peas, Flowers, Herbs, Lettuce, Root Vegetables, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Uncategorized, Winter Squash | 2 Comments

May Gardening & Window Whimsy Coldframes

Everything is springing up here in Los Angeles.  The zucchini is starting to grow.The sunflowers are growing tall.The tomatoes are coming along.The tomatillos are producing.The broccoli is abundant.The bees are buzzing.Handsome Cody (just because).I pick up windows from the curb whenever I see them.  They make whimsical garden decorations but they are useful as well.  In the winter, I place them over the raised garden bed frames to use as coldframes.

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What to Grow in Los Angeles/So Cal in May

Of all the posts I’ve written, the most viewed is last month’s “What to Grow in Los Angeles/So Cal in April.”  Apparently, a lot of new gardeners have the same problem I had when learning to garden here: we have a unique planting schedule.  You may have already realized that just because something is sold at a big box store does not mean it is the right time to plant it.Fruit trees: In April, you should have thinned fruit lightly to allow remaining fruit to grow larger.  Thin fruits by pulling one or two from each of the large clusters of fruit.  In May, you should do this again – 6 weeks from the first time.

Vegetables: Now is the time to finish any Spring planting that has not been done yet!  It’s also good to stagger plantings for continuous veggies.  Summer veggie transplants can be put in now: chayote, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peppers, tomatoes and melons.  From seed, you can plant: amaranth, beets, carrots, corn, green beans, leaf lettuce (not head lettuce), lima beans, pumpkins, New Zealand spinach, radishes, summer and winter squash, Swiss chard and turnips.  Beans and squash, once fruiting, should be picked daily so that they keep producing.  It is also time to plant your sweet potato slips.  I get mine from Debbie at Mericlone labs in NorCal.  Their website has been down but you can e-mail her at: mericlonelabs@sbcglobal.net.  They have wonderful white, orange and purple varieties.  As an aside, in California, we cannot receive shipments of sweet potatoes from other states.  But that is okay because here, we only need to plant “slips.”  That is a cutting from the sweet potato vine.  Debbie, or whomever you order from, mails the vine wrapped in a little wet tissue in a ziplock bag.  When you get it, just stick it in the ground and keep it watered until it roots.  It is really easy!

Herbs: Parsley is biennial, so it is time to replant!  You can also transplant basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, summer savory and thyme.  You can seed-plant basil and parsley.  Cilantro and arugula can be grown in semi-shade.  These are great to plant behind larger plants, like tomatoes.  Some herbs should be grown in containers because they are invasive.  These include all kinds of mint, horseradish and French tarragon.

Flowers: Its time to plant Tuberoses bulbs (Lei flowers – they smell great!).  Also, plant cosmos, globe amaranth, marigolds, nicotiana, petunias, verbena and zinnias in full sun.  In partial shade plant begonias, impatiens, lobelia and scarlet sage.

Tropicals:  April and May are good times to get your tropical plants in, including citrus.

One of the most important things in Southern California from now until the end of summer is to water regularly.  I try to plant landscaping plants that need little water once established.  But vegetables need regular watering!

If you are a new gardener, please tell me how it is going!

Posted in Beans & Peas, Flowers, Herbs, Lettuce, Root Vegetables, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Winter Squash | 1 Comment