The Mimosa (Albizia Julibrissin Durz) Trees Are Blooming

>> Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Mimosa, also known as Silk Tree or silky acacia, is native to Asia and was introduced into the United States in 1745.  It is often planted as an ornamental tree but has become naturalized from New Jersey to Louisiana.  It is another tree that is quite invasive and is considered by many to be a weed.  The seeds can remain dormant for many years and still be viable.  The trees also reproduce vegetatively, which means that when the tree is cut it quickly resprouts and sends up numerous new trees.

All of that aside the trees have showy and fragrant pink flowers that resemble pom-poms.  They attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  Here are some photos I snapped this morning of the mimosa blooming around our yard.

June 21st 004 June 21st 005



>> Thursday, June 18, 2009

Back on May 22nd Darryl got his small 1/2 acre field of open pollinated corn planted with his little two row planter.  He joked that he used it for his annual 20 minutes.  The corn is up and growing great—along with lots of weeds and grass. 

May  22nd 006

Although he has a two row cultivator for the John Deere MT he can’t use it because of a hydraulic problem, plus the time to take the sickle mower off and put on the cultivator would hardly be worth it.  I told Darryl I could go through the 16 rows of corn with the Troy Bilt tiller.  I began the process late Sunday afternoon and got through about 7 rows before quitting to do evening chores.  We got 3/10th of an inch of rain that night so the first chance I had to get back was Tuesday afternoon.  The soil was moist but not too wet to work.

I got started about 1:30 and after about an hour I noticed that it was becoming quite cloudy.  I kept tilling and looking up over the tree tops on the ridge at the clouds.  I wanted to finish before heading in with the tiller.  I began hearing some thunder over the noise of the tiller engine.  The clouds were looking quite dark and “mean.”  As I was on the last pass on the last row the rain hit.  Big, cold drops turning into torrents of pouring rain within a matter of seconds!

Before I could get to the end of the field water was standing in the field.  It was coming down in “buckets.”  I was already drenched and it didn’t seem to make any difference if I hurried or not.  But, as I exited the field the tiller, which had been running rather rough, died.  I could get it to start but it would die.  After several attempts and with lightning and thunder a lot closer than I liked I decided to let the tiller stay where it was.  The little ditch I had crossed was already beginning to rise.  Once across I found Darryl coming to assist me.  He had gone down to the house he is building to cover up some material and saw that I hadn’t returned with the tiller.  He had his big umbrella but I had no need of it.  There wasn’t a dry thread on me any where.

I had planned to take my camera with me to photograph the work I was doing but had forgotten it.  I’m glad I hadn’t taken it now.  I don’t think all of that water would have done it any good.


Bumble Bees

>> Wednesday, June 17, 2009

american-bumble-bee Most of us are familiar with the yellow and black striped bumble bees, often seen on flower blossoms.  They are quite a bit larger than the common honeybee.  They don’t produce large quantities of honey and don’t exist in large colonies like the honeybees.  A bumble bee nest will hold fewer than 50 individuals and is used for only one season, not normally being preserved over the winter.  The nest may be found within tunnels in the ground made by other animals, or in bunches of grass OR within a stack of hay bales!

Monday afternoon Darryl was pulling down several bales of our “mulch hay” to take to a friend when he happened upon a bumble bee nest.  He managed to remove the nest (he thought).  Tuesday morning I went down to do some more mulching in the garden and started to obtain some of the hay.  Right on top of one of the bales was a portion of the bumble bee nest, that Darryl had somehow overlooked.  I used Darryl’s pitchfork and carried it out of the barn but 8 or 10 bumble bees remained, flying about looking for their nest.  I thought that I could swat them down with a piece of board.  I got a few BUT one of the angry female bees got me—stinging me on the left eyelid.

I read in an article that I found on the internet that “social hymenopterans, including yellowjackets, bumble bees, honey bees, and fire ants, have individuals in the colony whose task it is to defend the nest.  If the nest is disturbed, these individuals will defend it vigorously.”  So, I guess the little gal was just doing her job.

I’ve been stung by honeybees, wasps and bumble bees.  I can’t say if one is more painful than another.  I found from my brief research that the major chemical in bee venom that is responsible for the pain is called melittin.  It stimulates the nerve endings of pain receptors in the skin.  The result is a very painful sensation, which begins as a sharp pain that lasts a few minutes and then becomes a dull ache.  The body responds to a sting by causing fluid from the blood to begin flushing venom components from the area.  This causes redness and swelling at the sting sight.  I can attest to all of this.

IMG_6141 Connie took this photo of me within an hour or so of me being stung.  You can see the redness and swelling around my left eye.  The picture below is a “closeup” shot.  This morning when I got up the swelling was worse, barely able to open my eye at all.  This evening some of the swelling has gone away, although it isn’t completely gone yet.

IMG_6144 There seems to be an epidemic of stings here on the farm.  Malchiah was stung twice on the left arm yesterday by a wasp and then Ramiah was stung on the hand by a wasp today.  We are all doing okay, just having some swelling and redness to deal with once the initial pain went away.


Mulching the Garden

>> Monday, June 15, 2009

(Note:  It has been quite some time since I last posted to this blog.  Connie and I made a trip to Wisconsin to visit our daughter, Anna, and her family and to be there for our granddaughter Beth’s high school graduation.  We were quite busy before and after the trip.  Hopefully I can get back to posting on a more regular basis.)

Mulching the garden, or at least part of it, is something we have tried to do for many years.  Mulching is simply to cover the soil around plants with a protective material.  It can be either an organic or inorganic material.  We have generally use organic material, most often hay or straw.  I have used grass clipping on occasion.

Last year we didn’t have much material for mulching available so we made plans for this year.  The last cutting of hay, which wasn’t quite as good as some of the earlier ones, was designated for mulch.  I believe there was somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 bales.

Mulching does a number of things.  It reduces weed growth cutting down on the hoeing and weeding in the garden.  Also it helps in maintaining more uniform moisture conditions.  Soil temperature is also modified by mulching.  The organic mulches such as we use keeps the soil cooler by acting as insulation.  Having mulch around plants reduces splashing of dirt onto the fruit and plants, leaving the fruit and leaves cleaner.  An additional benefit is that the organic mulches add nutrients and humus to the soil as they decompose.  This improves the tilth and moisture holding capacity of the soil.

Yesterday the boys and I began our mulching for this year.  We started with 9 rows of potatoes and 11 rows of onions.  There is much more to do.  We used 15 bales of our mulching hay.

June 14th 003 In this photo you can see where we began, having only a small amount done.

June 14th 004 The 9 rows of potatoes are mulched.

June 14th 007 The onions are now done.  Looking to the right you can see another 11 rows of potatoes to be mulched after we get them side dressed with some good compost.  We have melons, tomatoes, squash and many other crops to mulch as time and conditions permit.


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