Home Farming in Eldorado

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Farm Blog, Spring 2012

March 21 - June 20

June 10 - June 20

Lavender - The flowers are beginning to be opened enough for them to be picked and dried. The first to become ready was the Munstead followed by the other English lavender types. All of the flowers have been picked and are being dried to sell at the market.

Bees - Checked all of the bees. Hive #5 that was split had 3 opened and empty emergency queen cells and one unopened one. #2 is growing strong eventhough the split was taken from it. I moved another bar of brood from #4 to #3. #1 is still not as strong as it should be, but is doing well.

Vegetables - Lots of good eating from the garden! Kale, collards, boc choy, totsoi, radishes, green onions and arugula. Pulled out the beans, since they were not doing well. Lots of tomato and pepper plant growth! Squash plants also looking good. Flea beetles are eating the totsoi, boc choy and arugula, but they are not touching the other plants. The eggplants are beginning to flower.

Fruit - Picked 34 cups of sour cherries from the new Montmorency sour cherry trees. Many, many more from the old one! Apricots began to ripen and are falling off of the tree. Lots of canning of sour cherries and apricot preserves!

June 3 - June 9

Lavender - June is the month that the lavender flowers and I will collect them and the stems to dry in the sunroom for later sale at the Eldorado Farmer's Market in the summer.

Bees - I made a split from the Italian hive #2 into hive #5 with 3 combs of brood and 2 combs of honey. I also reinforced hive #3 with a full comb of brood from hive #4. Hopefully all will be alright for the rest of the spring into the summer. I will continue to check all of the hives every two weeks to be sure things are going well in each one.

Vegetables - We began eating out of our veggie garden after the Eldorado Gardening Tour. We are eating totsoi, boc choy, radishes, arugula, kale and collards.

Fruit - All of the fruit is still maturing on the trees. The sour cherries should be the next fruit to mature.

Flowers - Many of the perennials are all in full bloom this month. The crysanthemums are the only ones left to bloom.

May 28 - June 2

Checked the bees. The old hive and one of the new hives are getting stronger. One of the other new hives that was re-queened is beginning to thrive, but one is still pretty weak. I have to decide what to do with it next week (add brood with eggs & larvae, combine it with a stronger hive or leave it alone.)

We spent most of the week getting ready for the Eldorado Area Gardening Tour. The veggie garden is looking great with many of the plants ready to eat (tatsoi, kale, collards, boc choy). The lavender are all sending up stems with buds and the Munstead blooms are beginning to show color. The gardening tour was a great success! There were 350+ people who came through during the day. Thanks to all who helped out! It was a great day.

All of the fruit trees are showing lots of spring growth and the fruit is swelling on those that are fruiting this year. The Red Currents were the first fruit to ripen. Also picked Sweet Cherries before the birds could eat them all.

May 21 - May 26

I put new mud on the horno being careful to add a thicker mud to the door and the smoke hole. The rest of the horno received a slurry coating. All of the gardens are doing well, but had to give them water a couple of times during the week since it hasn't rained. I had to replant three tomato plants that were eaten by mice. Also, planted eight banana pepper plants. I didn't check the bees this week, but watched them daily. They all seem to be very active flying around their doors.

May 14 - 20

Spent the week getting the gardens ready for the Eldorado Gardening Tour coming up on June 2. Plants are all growing well, fruit is swelling on the trees and I didn't look in the bee hives. I am giving them time to add to their numbers and to do their "bee thing."

May 7 - 13

The fruit trees are still holding their fruit although we have had strong winds at the beginning of the week. We were lucky with the rain however. We got two days of pleasant spring showers!

All of the lavender plants are greening up and some are beginning to produce small buds. Many of the veggie seeds are beginning to sprout in the vegetable garden and the plants that were put out in "cow pots" are doing well.

When I checked the three new bee hives I found that only one of them had capped brood. The other two will dwindle down soon if they don't have a queen to increase their numbers. I ordered two new queens for the other hives and they were delivered on Friday. I introduced them when they arrived and hopefully they will be accepted. I will add a comb of brood to each of the hives from my stronger ones next week.

On Saturday I gave my presentation "Fruit Trees and Bees" at the La Tienda shopping center to about thirty participants. They all seemed to like it and asked lots of questions.

April 30 - May 6

For three days this week Susan planted the vegetable garden and completed the planting of the herb garden. I put in tomato plants, zucchini and summer squash in the bed beside the compost area behind the flower garden wall. Sifted composted horse manure was spread around the fruit trees and into some of the flower beds to feed them and to act as a mulch.

I checked all of the beehives. The old one that made it through the winter is doing fine with lots of capped honey and brood. Of the three new ones only one seems to be thriving. The other two seem weak. I will call Honeybee Genetics to see what they think I should do. After all, it has been only 11 days since they were introduced into their hives.

The lavender is beginning to show spring growth and some plants are beginning to have small flower buds on them. I have trimmed back all of the old dead growth from the winter.

All of the fruit trees except the newest Damson plum, Greengage plum and the nectarine have small fruit on them. Some of the trees are loaded with fruit and should provide a lot when they ripen in the fall if nothing happens to them between now and then.

April 23 - 29

On Wednesday, 25th I received and introduced three boxes of Russian-Carniolan bees from Honeybee Genetics into empty hives (Introducing Bees to a New Hive.) The queens were all marked so it should be easier to find during the season. I gave each hive 2 lbs of crystallized honey that I collected from my bees last August. On Friday morning (two days later) I looked out the window and saw that one of the new hives had been blown over by the wind (50-75 mph.) during the night. I put on my bee suit and discovered that the bees had congregated in a corner of the tipped-over hive. I put it back on the stand and reset the topbars. Thankfully the temperature was still chilly (43 degrees) and the sun was just coming up, so they had not had a chance to fly outside the hive. I plan to check all of the hives on Sunday, 29th to see if the queen has been released from her cage and if they are beginning to adapt to their new homes.

We are planning to plant the vegetable garden with the plants from the sun room on Monday. I have been setting out traps to catch mice that are coming to the garden every night. So far I have caught four mice and one rat. I use boc choy from the store as bait and mouse traps filled with peanut butter. I will continue to catch any that I can so that we will not have the same problem as last year (the mice ate 64 newly set out plants in two nights).

April 16 - 22

Obtained pollen to study from the bee hive for the first time (Pollen from the hives). Bees seem to be doing well in the hive bringing in pollen and nectar from ours and neighbor's flower gardens and trees. There are still no abundance of wild flowers in the surrounding one-half mile radius from the farm. There is capped brood in the hive as well, but no queen or drone cells present. Many of the fruit trees have finished blooming and some are setting fruit. The apple and Asian pear trees seem to be at their peak blooming period now. The veggie garden is still unplanted, but we will plant some of the cold tolerant plants in another week or two. Currently the baby plants are growing well in the sun room.

April 8 - 15

This week was an unusual one. Most of the week was very warm, but a cold front came in on Saturday lowering the nighttime temperature to 30.2. All of the fruit trees were either in bloom or setting fruit (apricot). I was unable to check the bees, since the winds were too high during most of the week. The horse manure was all moved to the new compost pile behind the garden with some being used on the pinion pine and junipers around the property. The vegetable seedlings are growing well in the sun room and will be able to put into the garden in a couple of weeks.

April 1 - 7

April began with a terrific snow storm on the second; 3 in. at the farm. Fortunately the temperatures were not all that cold. It did not reach the freezing point. The fruit trees continued to bloom. The only ones not yet blooming are Mishirasu Asian pears, the 'Everfresh Angelys' Anjou pear and the 'Montmorency' sour cherries. Compost from the compost bin behind the garden wall was removed and mixed with some surrounding soil. This will be turned from time to time and eventually added to the small back garden where the tomatoes, peppers and squash will be planted. Before the snow storm 2 lbs. of Yum-yum fertilizer mix was added to each of the fruit trees topped off with more Back-to-Earth cotton seed mulch. I didn't check the bees this week, but I plan to next week. I am also planning to take some pollen from the hive to see if I can identify it with the known pollen that I have collected from the area flowers.

March 25 - 31

This week with the warmer and longer days the fruit orchard really started showing spring growth. The apricot trees burst into full bloom attracting a multitude of bees. You can smell their sweet fragrance long before you see the trees. No wonder the bees are attracted to them! Buds on all of the other fruit trees are beginning to swell and some leaflets are beginning to show. Flowers on the limbs of the Reliance peach tree that are close to the back wall are also flowering.  In the flower garden the crocus, jasmine and white hyacinth  flowers are fading, but are being replaced by the forsythia, daffodils, grape hyacinth, pink phlox and tulips. The lilac bushes are leafing out as well and are forming flower buds for their spring show.

All of the veggie seeds that were planted in “cow pots”  in the sun room to be put out into the vegetable garden later in the spring (collards, kale, boc choy, totsoi and broccoli) have all sprouted and are being thinned. Everyday they need lots of water and the trays must be turned to keep up with their fast growth.

On sunny days last year’s comb wax from which the honey has been extracted is being melted in the solar wax melter. The wax with some honey in it is first set out in the garden for the bees to forage before being processed. The wax will later be used to make products to be sold at the Eldorado Farmer’s Market this summer.

March 18 - 24

Some of the (forsythia, daffodils, crocus) and other bulbs are showing some signs of leafing out. I checked the last living beehive and they are doing fine, but I couldn't find the queen. I will look for her next week. I am continuing to extract honey from the comb from one of the dead hives. So far I have gotten 3 pints out of it and lots of wax to melt down. I also acquired a fifth hive from Ecoversity and set it up in the bee yard. We have planted our vegetable seeds in "cow pots" and put in the sun room. They should begin to germinate and we will put them in the garden in May. None of the fruit trees are showing signs of flowering yet which is good, since we are supposed to have another snow this week.

We planted seeds in "cow pots" to be in sun room until the plants are large enough to put out in the garden. They were purchased from Fedco Seeds earlier this year. The varieties are Champion collards, Red Russian kale, Winterbor kale, Prize Choy pac choi, tatsoi, Nero di Tuscana Lacinato kale and Fiesta broccoli. We will start other plants in the garden after the chance of frost (May 15 in our area.)

May Garden

Planted with Fedco Seeds:


Winterbor kale

Nero Dituscano kale
  Arugula Red Russian kale Champion collards
Scarlet Nantes carrots Early Mizuma mustard Fiesta brocolli Bush Blue Lake beans
Tatsoi Prize Choy pac choy Provider bush beans Detroit Dark Red beets
Cherry Belle radishes Cherry Belle radishes Purple Top white globe turnips Early Wonder Tall Top beets
Onions Onions Provider bush beans Bright Lights chard