Saturday, July 10, 2021

Admitting Defeat

My mulberry tree has been super productive these past few years. Since I still have a lot of jelly from last year I decided to make syrup instead. I have picked several batches of berries and juiced them, setting the juice aside to make the syrup in one big batch. Well, between the storms that have not given the berries a chance to ripen or knocked off the ripe berries before I could get to them and the birds, chipmunks and squirrels that eat them even before they are ripe, I don't think I'm going to get any more. 

Squirrel, hanging by its back feet
So today I mixed the roughly 8 cups of juice with 10 1/2 cups of sugar and made syrup. Seven pints plus a 4-oz jar for my gift stash. The fauna in the yard can have the rest of the berries.

Friday, July 9, 2021

So Much Rain

Tropical storm Elsa has hit eastern Massachusetts and it's a good thing I have no need to go outside today. 

What I have been doing is fermenting garlic scapes. I've tried various things with the garlic scapes from the farm over the years: pesto, freezing, using them in place of garlic or onion in cooking. This recipe breaks down the woodiness of them by fermenting them briefly. The kitchen has smelled of garlic for days. Today I packed the ferment into jars and will keep them in the fridge. 

For reference, half a pound of scapes works out to one 8-oz jar. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Cybeele

My beekeeping mentor has guided me through many confusing years of beekeeping and this year has been no exception. My hive has successfully requeened themselves and, while I haven't seen her, I know she exists because as of today my hive is full of worker brood. There is no other way that can happen. Long live Cybeele!

The other good news is that they have started to build proper comb in a flow hive frame. If they can just move into all of them, maybe next year I'll be able to harvest honey from them and not have to disrupt them too much. They have so much honey they should be good for the winter unless we have a drought, which could still happen, so I'll still have to keep an eye on things. 

Lots and Lots of Greens

This week I had the whole farm share to myself, and there were so many greens. Spinach, mustard, collards, kale, arugula, and a braising mix which is a lot of other greens I can't identify. I was reminded recently of boorani, a Persian spinach and yogurt dish my mother used to make when we had company. Specifically, though, I've been seeing posts about boorani using greens other than spinach. Well, why not?

So I cooked up some onion and garlic with turmeric, salt and pepper, and then added all the spinach, mustard greens and braising mix. (The collards and kale are for the rabbit and I'm not sure what to do with all the arugula, it's overwhelming.) Once everything was cooked down, I stirred in plain yogurt and added coriander seed, dried lemon salt, and sumac to taste. It's a good way to get more greens in my diet. Yum!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Sorting Themselves Out

I checked the bees today as it's 20 degrees cooler than it was yesterday and my bee suit is very hot. Even with it only being in the 70's, I'm still roasting! 

What I found were two hopefully promising things. One is that I found sporadic larvae, suggesting I have a new queen. I did not see the queen but I didn't want to disturb things too much and I had already taken everything apart so I could examine the lowest box so I didn't take out all the frames. I did not see any capped brood of any kind, suggesting that the worker bees didn't try to lay eggs in the meantime. Hopefully my assumptions are correct here. I've emailed my bee mentor to see what he thinks.

The other thing was that there was nectar in one of my flow frames. Hopefully that means the bees are starting to consider them as viable frames and will start to build in them. It is clear that this is going to be a multi-year process to get them to the point that they build them out completely. But if they have successfully requeened and I can get them through another winter it just might work. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Lemon Balm

The farm share started up again this week and yesterday I picked up the share. As is typical for the first share of the year, it was rather small. Split between my friend and me, I ended up with 4 radishes, some arugula and mustard greens, and a bunch of lemon balm.

Actually, we were given the option of one bunch of herbs in total, with the options being lavender and sage, mint, Chinese chives, and lemon balm. After a quick mental stock of my canning inventory I opted for the lemon balm, thinking that maybe I could make jelly from it. Of course, the internet came to my rescue as it always does for these things, and I found several similar recipes for lemon balm jelly.

Essentially, you make a tea with lemon balm leaves and hot water and should end up with 3.5 cups of tea. Add half a cup of lemon juice, 1 box of pectin and 4 cups of sugar and you have a lemony jelly. It tastes like lemon marmalade, but without all the challenging bits of peel. (I believe I've mentioned before that I'm not a huge fan of marmalade.)

I've added three small jars of this to my gift stash which now has 18 jars in it. I'm starting early this year. 

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Hoping for the Best

The bees are continuing to be confusing. Today I really got into the hive and found a couple of things. (1) They still haven't started drawing comb on the flow frames, so I rubbed beeswax all over them in the hopes of enticing them to start. (2) There were more queen cells, including a few emergency queen cells. (3) Close inspection of every single frame showed me there were no larvae anywhere. Which means there is a problem with the queen.

So I left the queen cells I found, and closed it all up again, and emailed my bee mentor. Hopefully he has some ideas. They definitely haven't swarmed, and they definitely have room in there, so fingers crossed this is the right decision.