Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009

Boy am I tired.  I'm not as young as I used to be.  Yesterday was the final show of Village Theatre's season.  Much as we enjoyed the evening, it was a very late night, followed by an early morning.  Unfortunately I was so exhausted this evening that I almost didn't head out to mow the lawn despite the calf-high grass.  It must have something to the 75 to 80 degree temperatures we've been having for the last several days.

I actually did get out and mow.  It took just over an hour and a half, which isn't bad, and the kids had fun "helping" me when I did the back yard.  The whole thing took two hours of course because I had to do the compost.  I hadn't aerated and turned it since I mowed last, which is bad, so it was difficult to turn before I added the new grass.  I actuallly had too much new material so I ended up dumping about half a 96 gallon yard waste container on top of the pile at the end.  No pictures were taken this time because it was too dark at the end.  In the end I am excited about the amount of compost that I'm making this year.  It seems like more than last year, though I'm not sure how that's possible.

Mostly this evening I spent my time staring into my rose garden.  I was searching for the bumble/carpenter bees to try to identify them.  You see, my recollection is that they had fuzzy butts which would make them bumble bees. However, EVERYTHING about their behavior screamed carpenter bee.  I've been doing a TON of research and carpenter bees nest in eves and facia, where this hive is.  They create the same size hole as I saw.  The males hang around the entrance "defending" it while the nest is being created, which would explain the bees lounging on my siding the other day.  The interesting thing about carpenter bees is that the very agressive males have no stingers so they're all bluster and no bite.  The other interesting clarification I learned is that bumble bees don't die when they sting you like honey bees, so they can sting you over and over, though you really have to piss them off to get them to attack (like get too close to their nest).  Finally, both types of bees are beneficial to gardeners, so I guess it really doesn't matter for the garden, but it does to my house (carpenter) and kids safety (bumble).

I could go on and on with all I've learned, but what I was really looking for was their torsos.  Carpenter bees have hairless black behinds and bumble bees have colorful furry ones.  When I was out there looking, I saw all sorts of bees.  My attention was first drawn to what looked like three wasps comanding the entire garden to themselves.  You know, the elongated, banded torso of and the long antenna.  Scary fighter planes is what I think of. 

Thankfully they ended up flying away over the top of my house after pawing all over all the plants.  Really odd since wasps don't like plants.  After they left, I did see several bees come and go, but they didn't hang around or go slow enough to see them, and none were lounging around the entrance. 

It wasn't until I was watering the plants in the shade that I saw a ton of bees all over my flowering rosemary plant.  They were definitely bumble bees, I got within a foot of them.  The same went for my flowering rhodie tree. However, I couldn't be sure if these were just traveling bumble bees or if they were the ones from my house.  It wasn't until I found one hanging out on the siding under the nest.  It clearly had a fuzzy behind.  I tried to get a picture of my bumble bee, but the silly bee was in the shade so my picture didn't come out.  You'll have to take my word for the fact that I have bumble bees that act exactly like carpenter bees.  So they're dangerous if the kids disturb them while they dig in the rose garden, but hopefully they'll just do fly bys over their heads until winter when they will abandon the nest and I can plug the hole. 

Of course I planned on painting the house so that would definitely anger them.  Not sure if that'll happen this summer, but if so, that'll take some thinking.

Ok, enough about bees, though that has monopolized my time ouside of work for 48 hours, hehe.  While I was out there I had to snap a shot of my purple/blue irises.

Of course my son likes the yellow the best, but they're not quite in bloom yet.  Arent these pretty?

While I was watering the scraps, I had to make note of the fact that I think I have a volunteer (weed?) in my watermelon bin.  I say this because I planted three seeds and got two different plants sprouting.

I guess I'll let them grow and see what happens.  Odd though.

Lastly, I was downloading pics from my phone, I guess I'd snapped some silly pics that I'd like to share.  First is when I was upstairs putting some things in storage I realized I still had my light setup going.  What I had really forgot is that I had some seedlings growing under those lights.  Unfortuantely I hadn't watered them in a few weeks, so there was no hope for them.

They USED to be Italienshier lettuce.  What I had THOUGHT they were originally was stevia, they were growing so slow.  It's ok that I don't have them to plant, I still have TONS of lettuce to harvest.

Whoever said I didn't have enough space to donate a CSA share of my garden clearly overestimated the amount of salads our family can eat.  Hehe.  I've still got tons of open squares to plant in my garden.

My final pic tonight was taken one morning on the way out the door to work.  I still have tons of sprouting potatoes that I don't have room to plant.  I would compost them but with my luck they'd grow and I don't want plants growing in my constantly shaded compost bins.  But look at these sprouts searching desperately for dirt to grow.

Enjoy your garden!


  1. engineeredgardenMay 28, 2009 at 10:57 PM

    I'm gonna make more compost this year, too. Dang, it takes alot of material to end up with a significant amount.

  2. It's hard to know what to do with unused plants. I have several extra tomato plants even after planting too many for us. I think I ought to compost them, but it feels kind of like getting rid of a pet...

  3. I just learned recently on the KUOW Weekday green gardening show that wasps and yellow jackets, which I had thought were useless scavengers, actually help in the garden by eating up bugs that eat your plants. For instance they'll eat those caterpillars who eat up my broccoli.

    Yellow jackets can be a pain though because they are known to make nests in wall cavities and they will rearrange the sheetrock to build their nest. Yellow jackets can be pretty aggressive, especially if you are outside eat meat. Yum.

    Paper wasps & mud daubers on the other hand will just hang their small nests in a tree or under your eaves. Wasps are not aggressive so you can pretty much ignore them.

    In either case, the Puget Sound bee keepers association will come remove nests if they are in really bad locations. I believe they do this for bees, wasps & yellow jackets. It's great because they'll use a shop vac or something instead of nasty chemicals. And I think it's usually free. They like what they do.

  4. We have a FIERCE time with carpenter bees. You can't sit outside in the porch because you hear them chewing away at the wood. It drives us nuts!

  5. I'm with you Rich on the compost -- we're going to do our best to make more of it this year. Hopefully we can now since I actually have some REAL bins to use instead of just piles LOL I think DH is tired of going to Lowes to buy it in the bags LOL

    I hope that you can do like James Harris said above and get some help to get those bees out. I've seen on TV or online (can't remember which) where they use a vacuum to get the bees.

    That Iris is so pretty! We have a couple here but no where nearly as nice as that one.

    That is so funny about your potatoes. I've never seen potatoes do like that before LOL

  6. The iris flowers are beautiful. One of my favorite landscaping plants. Used to have a bunch of them in my central Washington gardens. Not a one in my kitsap county gardens. But my oh my ... I have columbine in bloom. :D

    Sounds like you did a ton of homework on the bee/bumble identification! That must have been an interesting exercise in and of itself.

    Those poor plants that you forgot about are as sad looking as can be. Those AND those determined potatoes need to be put out of their misery!