Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bees and Peas

Spring is hectic for anyone growing food, and Adventure Farm is no exception. Every evening I find myself rushing home from work to take advantage of the lengthening days to prepare beds, plant, and weed. On top of the “normal” spring chores, we are getting bees this month. So, while Guy was out working with kids on a challenge course this past weekend, I was at home trying to assemble a beehive for the first time.

Notice the pile of pieces and the sheets of paper, the only instructions,  at the end of the glider...not a whole lot of help included.

Viewing the task laid out before me reminded me a lot of a box of Lincoln logs, all these wood pieces, some small and some large. Also, I’m pretty sure the instructions were written for seasoned beekeepers, they seemed more like reminders than real instructions. Despite the feeling of defeat when I saw the amount of pieces,  somehow I managed to assemble and paint the hive.

For those of you who are already beekeepers, I know I have my boxes stacked incorrectly.  Too bad the beekeepers don't get the big boxes :)  So, for those who don't know, the big boxes are hive bodies where the bees raise their brood and store honey that will keep them alive over the winter.  Once the two large hive bodies are filled, the beekeeper can add the "supers" to the top and harvest the honey collected in these boxes. The beekeeper needs to leave the honey in the bottom two boxes so the bees have a chance to survive the winter. 

At the end of the day I was left with a pile of small pieces of wood and nails with not a clue as to how to arrange the frames where the bees will build their combs. Even with the Internet, I was a little lost. Fortunately, I know a few beekeepers and was able to get some help yesterday from one of them. 

Now I just need to assemble 40 of these. The bees arrive April 30, and I think I'm close to being ready.  I wanted to get the gluing and painting done early so it would have time to season. The only gluing and painting required were the exterior pieces, which I have finished. Overall, I think I did okay with my body assembly. There are a few blunders, but only the bees and I will know, and I’m pretty certain the bees won’t even notice. 

Cool Trellis Material

Another exciting new addition for the garden is cattle panels that I am cutting and using for trellises. This weekend I finally got my peas in the ground and installed my first section of a cattle panel that I picked up last month.  

This stuff is so awesome. It's sturdy and  made of galvanized wire rods so they hold up a long time without rusting.  With bolt cutters you can cut sections to use as sturdy and rather artistic, I think, trellises.  They come in 16-foot lengths and are a little over 4 ft. tall. I’m in love. 

I'll be posting some photos of my installed trellises soon. It's too dark now to get pictures, and I want to get this entry posted.

Happy Gardening,


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Springing Forward at Adventure Farm

Things are picking up here at Adventure Farm.  Guy has had a number of tree-climbing events in the St Louis area and is busy helping prepare for the upcoming TREEmendous event at the MO Botanical Garden, April 30-May 1.  Come out and join the celebration of trees and forests at the garden.

Banners for the TREEmendous event outside the main entrance to the MO Botanical Garden

The picture in the Forest Festival banner was taken at one of Guy's events and is a friend's daughter. 
We are excited that Laurellyn is getting her moment of fame and that Guy is involved in this great event. 
Hope to see you there. 

The urban farming and homesteading piece of Adventure Farm is also busy this spring. This past weekend Bill Wilson, co-founder of Midwest Permaculture and one of my instructors at the permaculture design course I attended this past fall, was here to do a talk at Schlafly Bottleworks on April 2. Part of the day included a Walk About at Adventure Farm.  

This is the first public event for the permaculture portion of Adventure Farm and a very exciting event it was.  There  were 16 people who chose to spend a few hours of a beautiful Saturday afternoon touring this small urban farm and giving feedback and suggestions. 
We met and started in the front yard 

I was particularly looking for suggestions for the front yard, which is just beginning its transformation into a working part of the space. Notice the hill. This has been a design challenge for me. During the walkabout,  I got many ideas on things to do to make this space productive while still being attractive in an urban setting.  Stay tuned for future entrys on its evolution. 

We then headed to the back

I imagine that the backyard was a little more helpful to folks who were looking for examples of urban permaculture since not much is going on in the front yard.  I got quite a bit of positive feedback and some good design suggestions for back here, too. I was a little nervous about opening up this space to others even though that is our intent. It's always a little scary to put myself out there in this way, especially this early in the season when things don't look quite as nice as they will later. 

Bill doing his design thing 
We worked our way from the front of the house to the back with me introducing everyone to the space and explaining what I was attempting to accomplish. 

We then worked our way back around to the front giving people time to give design suggestions
Overall, the Walk About felt like a success to me. The bonus to this event was the opportunity to meet like-minded people in the area. I'm looking forward to reconnecting with many of these people. For those of you who might be interested in learning more about permaculture design, please take a moment to check out Midwest Permaculture at

There is also a weekend permaculture training coming to St. Louis in July.  I'll be posting details as soon as they become available. 

The Good Gardening, Good Food series that Bill’s talk was a part of is being hosted by Slow Food St Louis, Schlafly Bottleworks and Brick City Gardens. Check out their 2011 Schedule of events at

Happy Spring,