Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Lovely weather lured me outside yesterday to prune the blueberries - the first task on my garden "to do" list.

Blueberry bushes are supposed to look something like this. See the nice round little buds at the end of each twig?

But most of mine look like this: See? No little round buds on the ends of the twigs? The thing about blueberry bushes is this: Deer love to eat the tips. I guess I have to get serious about protecting them in the winter when the electric fence is down. We've talked, on and off, for years about caging them in net to keep out birds. I used to figure there were enough berries to share. But not any more. Deep sigh. I hate digging post holes.

Here's Tang, helping me with the pruning chores. It can't be comfortable sleeping on those blueberry branches.

So he moves to where he knows the catnip grew last summer and will grow again this year.

On the bright side... Look at these Winter Aconites (Eranthis hyemalis) I don't know why they're not more commonly grown. They usually start to bloom before the snow is gone. And if it doesn't warm up too fast, they go on for weeks. When the temperature is over 50 they're full of honey bees. Which reminds me... I have to go find an online source for beekeeping supplies. After years of neglect, we're resurrecting our beehives.


LauraHinNJ said...

Winter Aconites sound like a lovely plant; did a bit of reading online and found out that they're poisonous! Also called "wolf's bane". I might like to combine them far back in the shrub border where the dog can't reach with snowdrops. Do you know what time of year is best to plant the bulbs?

I've always wanted to try keeping bees, have a friend that does. Seems like it's very difficult and not something to take on lightly. I'd love to hear more about your experiences - maybe give me the push to go ahead and give it a try.

Mary Ann said...

Wolfbane is in the genus Aconitum and is toxic. Plants in the genus Aconitum are sometimes called Aconites. But my lovely little yellow flower is in the genus Eranthis. Both Aconitum and Eranthis are in the Ranunculus family. But I can't find any reference to Eranthis being toxic. Mine grow right by the back door and my pets show no interest.

They're not actually bulbs. If you mail order them you get these disappointing little roots that look like twigs. They go dormant in May. So I imagine you can plant them any time in the summer or fall. I could send you some seeds. But they won't bloom 'til the third year.

I think beekeeping sounds harder than it really is. I'm kind of casual about it. But once you get the colony going, pretty much all you have to do is go take off a "super" (wooden box) of honey in the late summer and replace it with an empty one. Repeat 'til cold weather. We made a centrifugal extractor from an air conditioning duct and a variable speed drill to spin the honey out of the comb. If you have a friend to help you learn, you're better off than I was when I started.