Mason Bees in my garden

I enjoy nurturing the native bees and providing nesting homes for them. Since we have five fruit trees, four blueberry plants, 50 strawberries and multiplying raspberries, my garden keeps these bees working. I like them because they work in the rain, unlike other pollinators. I have some cute bee houses and some practical, jury rigged ones and they both do the job.

The wire one above is what I will explain. Mason Bee season here in the Puget Sound lowlands runs from about March 15 when you put them out until mid July when they are ready for storage. Recently I have learned about these predatory wasps that drill holes in the cardboard straws to lay their eggs, ultimately killing the developing Mason Bees. This year I am using white cardboard tubes placed in natural reeds, hoping to discourage the predatory wasps. The tan tubes with mud closures are the bees from 2017 and the white tubes are the nesting sites for 2018.

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Peaches from Eastern Washington

22 lbs. for $15.

22 lbs. for $15.


Peaches did not grow in Minnesota (too cold) and were shipped in from Colorado or California back then. We did not eat many fresh peaches. Now I see peaches readily available and at very reasonable prices. Yesterday I got a 22 lb. box of Freestone peaches for only $15. At Olmsteads fruit stand (and nursery in Poulsbo). I also learned the difference between Cling (which ripen in June/July) and Freestone (which ripen now). This is an important distinction, because I planned to process them for freezing.

Planning ahead before you start is the key to success. For me, it was like setting up stations at school.

Station 1
Crate of peaches (cut an X at top of each peach. This will help with peeling), water boiling in a large pot (blanch 40 seconds) , large bowl of ice water to stop the blanching and bowls to drain the cooled peaches.

Station 2
Plastic bag in a pot to contain the mess of waste, skins and seeds. A bowl with Fruit Fresh (dissolved in water as stated on the package), the glass container used to freeze sliced peaches overnight before cutting them in Ziplock freezer bags for storage.

I got all the peaches processed to the end of station one, or to the draining point, before I peeled and cut any.

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This has been a very satisfying preservation project that took about 1 1/2 hours to complete. Tomorrow I will transfer the frozen peaches to Ziplock bags for storage.

Forsythia, Crocus and Other Signs of Spring

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Today is the first day I noticed the yellow starting to show on my forsythia bush. It is such a busy time of year here. My strawberry patch took a hit from the cold over the winter, so today I bought 24 plants to fill in spaces where I pulled out dead dry plants recently. So much to do and so little dry weather to get it done!

Interlaken white grapes

In addition to the Concord grapes I have been sharing recently, our property also has three Interlaken white grape vines. I have been nurturing them along all summer but they are just not what I would call a pleasant tasting table grape. I have a feeling that the previous gardener must have been a winemaker. Too bad because that is not at all what we would do. They look pretty, but are not sweet. Maybe they are not totally ripe yet? It seems late in the season now, but I will just let them be.

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Concord grape harvest

Thursday evening I learned a little more about fruit gardening by attending a meeting of the Kitsap Peninsula Fruit Club. These folks really know their fruit! I think I have identified the three grape varieties in my garden that were planted by the previous gardener: Interlaken, Seedless Concord and Candace. Today I harvested Seedless Concord.
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