It is 'winter' here at the moment. For the last couple of years, that has meant incredibly (for Perth) cold mornings, and delightfully warm sunny afternoons. The rainy days are heavy and few this year, and I expect it to be a wet spring like it was last year; we had rain as late as November!
I check my ladies every day - at least the ladies at home - to check they are flying and pollen in coming in. On these cold mornings, I haven't seen them out earlier than 8.30am, with just a few guards on the board shaking their little bodies to keep warm. I have rescued many lady in the morning who has flown out, then run out of energy to get home! Onto to a stick they go, onto a sunny rock to warm up so they can get home. When the bee is full of nectar, or has heavy pollen baskets, on these cold days, they often run out of 'heat' to get home and need to warm in the sun to recover some energy. So far, things seem to be fine and we haven't had to open up the hives to inspect inside for problems.
With the new house, comes the exciting prospect of a new garden. We have already filled our verge with cut down cotton-palm trees and dead wood. The previous owners weren't really into the gardening thing, so there is alot of work to get the trees back into shape.
First though, was planting out the grow beds for the aquaponics. We were so very pleased with ourselves for getting the water and fish to the new house without losing said fish or water. Seeing as the water is about 2 years old, we REALLY wanted to keep the 'good' water and all its beneficial microbes and bacteria. In went all the winter greens - spinach, pak veggies, kale (more of a spring one but gonna try), spring onions, leek and LOTS of snow peas. The family can't wait for the peas to comes along! There is nothing like fresh snow peas from the garden.
Over the school holidays, I have trimmed and hacked back into shape the citrus trees and hedge plants that badly needed some attention. I have been told that the citrus I thought was a diseased, cross species is actually a fairly unusual Seville Orange tree. Apparently, the bumpy, thick-skinned, even more bitter-than-lemon fruit is excellent for marmalade. Can't wait to try it out!
We have also visited the local fruit tree shop called Tass1 Trees which is run by a gentleman who specializes in rare fruit, double-grafted trees and cheap fruit trees. I had very nice birthday voucher to spend and we bought a Cherry, Mandarin, Orange, Banana and 3 Blueberries! It was very exciting to plan out the different sections of the garden and imagine what it will look like in about 5 years! I am waiting for my strawberry plants from The Digger's Club. Unfortunately, I think they are stuck in Quarantine. The Ag-Department has decided that all seeds and plants that come into WA are now subject to a $54 'inspection' fee. Yes, from a $4 fee to $54! Now don't get me wrong, I am very grateful that WA has very strict quarantine laws, as I directly benefit from this policy with regards to my bees not contracting a number of diseases that are common on the East Coast. But this 'fee' is so exorbitant, my opinion is that the 'fee' is more like a tax... Rant over!
Back to the strawberries, I have a great recycled project that I really want to instal using old rain gutters for them. Sooo, I am going to supervise my hubby in the construction of some gutter-gardens and have them plumbed into our aquaponics system. This means that over summer, my strawberries will not dry out and will benefit from having almost full sun and that means yummier fruit! The last 2 years running, my huge patches have died in just one afternoon when I wasn't home to baby them in the first 40degree day :-( Stay tuned for some pics!
Well, today we planted that last of the holiday buys; a pretty Pixie Boronia that T1 bought for his garden. The kids planted bulbs in their respective gardens and are waiting very patiently for them to come up and flower.
That's about that! Until next time, plant and eat fresh!