The photos above and below show what were heads of broccoli, almost ready for harvest.
Until the possum decided to have a midnight snack. They were consumed in a single night, so there wasn’t much we could do. (Add to that the ongoing challenges from rats, which will give most things a nibble.)
So yes, even in the inner-city, we have wildlife challenges when growing vegetables…
In Sydney, honey bees never go completely dormant over winter. With not even frost where we live, they can keep foraging on the native plants that flower during winter.
With the two weeks of solid rain at the beginning of spring, absolutely everything is in flower at the moment. That makes for a very strong ‘honey flow’, and abundant early harvests.
Last week I was therefore able to take the first harvest from my main hive. On a very warm Saturday morning, I had the help of a bunch of other local natural beekeepers (organised via the Natural beekeeping in Australian and NZ mailing list.)
The whole top box (8 frames) were totally full of honey, some laid down over winter (dark in colour), and some fresh from recent flowerings (light in comparison). We also harvested two frames from the box below, making 10 frames in total!
Making use of the Sydney bee club‘s honey press, I was able to harvest 13.75 litres of honey. That’s a good start to the season!
That makes for plenty of jars, so give us a yell when you see us about and about, and we’ll sell you a jar or two 🙂
Spring is a busy time for beekeeping, so it pays to be prepared. And with a warm winter, and a week of much-needed rain, there’s every sign that things will be taking off early this year in Sydney.
So for the last few weekends, I’ve been making bee hive boxes, hive lids, plus extra bases. (All for Warré hives, otherwise I could just buy new boxes.)
For the boxes, I’m finger jointing them, using the new jig that I’ve purchased for my router table. As first attempts, they’re not great joints, but practice makes perfect! The bees will plug up any gaps with propolis in any case… 😉
My plan is also to scale up this year, so I have enough honey to meet the needs of our two local cafes.
In addition to a few more hives at our house, several friends have expressed interest in having a hive in their backyard. So I’ll be doing all the setup and management, and we’ll put in place a produce-sharing arrangement. 🙂
Onwards to spring!
A few years back, our neighbours from down the road offered us a few pieces of tumeric from their recent harvest. Following the “why not, let’s give it a go” principle, I planted these into two potato bags.
They grow vigorously, as the photo above shows. Following instructions on the net, I let them die back over the first winter.
They came back strongly during the following summer, and when they died back for the second time, it was time to harvest. And what a harvest it was!
The easiest way to harvest the tumeric was to up-end the two potato bags, and to rummage around in the soil. As you can see from the photo above, the tumeric emerged as thick clumps of bright orange tubers.
In all, we harvested 2.6kg of tumeric (!), which sounds like a lifetime supply to me.
Half has been peeled and frozen, for long-term use. The other half has been stored in the cool cupboard in a sealed container. We’ll see how both lots go over time.
One potato bag has been replanted with some of the tumeric, for harvesting in a few years time. (From this year’s experience, I don’t think we’ll need two bags worth!)
Would anyone like some tumeric? 🙂
Our main winter crop most years is broccoli and cauliflower, and it’s in full swing right now.
The main head has been cut off the broccoli plants, and we’re steadily harvesting the side-shoots. The cauliflower is also a sight to behold.
It’s great to eat seasonally 🙂
One of the ways of increasing the number of active bee hives is to wait for a call that someone has a swarm clustered in a tree in their backyard, and to capture that.
The other option is to place “bait” hives in inviting locations, and hope that a passing swarm takes a fancy to them.
In my first full beekeeping season, I’m going to try both. 🙂
The photo above shows two bait hives ready for spring. I made the boxes myself (as per my previous post), and painted them a very pale green. I also made the two bases, which are a bit rough, but sufficient for this task.
As these are temporary hives, there’s no reason for a full Warré roof, and I’ve constructed a simple flat roof out of plywood, treated with linseed oil.
Now I just have to wait until spring, and then find some friends who are willing to provide a temporary home for the hives, in return for some honey and/or wax. 🙂