Honey bees in the potager!

A bit of a flashback for this post, all the way back to the summer of 2017.
I was super lucky to be introduced to a veteran bee keeper in Kagawa.

Keeping honey bees had always been a dream for me, since my youth.
(The others being, of course, eating fresh veggies from my own garden, and picking fresh flowers off our own property to decorate the table… )

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Requested him to teach me on how to keep bees.
Soon, I found myself in one of his several bee farms…

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He said he would give me some bees to try.
Next thing, he asked his helpers to load six, yes, six bee boxes onto my truck.
Imagine, I would be more than happy to have just one bee box, but six?

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Anyway, I dashed home and rushed to the potager, and immediately cleared some space for the bee boxes.

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Having zero experience, and little knowledge about apiary farming, naturally, I had to learn the hard way.
He gave me some pieces of equipment to start off; most intriguing for me is the ‘smoker’.
But before I realized it, ‘ouch!’, the bee stings!
Anyway, what a ‘joyful pain’ it was, as I was in high heaven…

But, came autumn 2017, ‘tragedy’ struck…
The poor honey bees were attacked and eaten by hornets (yellow jackets?).
I consulted the bee keeper master and he gave me some hornet traps.
Those traps worked, but there were just so many of the hornets.

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Feeding voraciously on my bees, the population of the hornets exploded…
So much so that the hornets even had the nerve to make their home right under my nose, or rather undernearth the roof of my house.

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I would say, the diameter of the nest grew up to about half a meter.
Not knowing what to do, I contacted the veteran bee keeper.
He came with a water pump, and thoroughly tore down the nest.

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Unfortunately, the population of my bees continued to decline.
When winter 2017 came, the bee keeper dropped by to look.
And he said, ‘the bees were very few, let me take them with me, and I shall bring new bees for you again next season’.

Dismayed as I was with my shabby care for the bees, I looked forward to a second chance to learn about bee keeping again.

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Roots, greens, gourds, citruses…

Hello everyone… yours truly had been doing quite well and enjoying gardening as usual… Here are a few pictures showing some of the harvests that we have had over the past months…

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Carrots had done pretty well… at times, we had to ‘catch up’ with the harvests as we love eating them fresh… still, with so much, my sweeto-haato had to preserve quite a bit of them in vinegar…

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Pumpkins almost always do well… I think this time, we harvested almost 60 of these specimens… this type is very resistant to pests, and they are so easy to grow.. plus, they taste super good…

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The greens did not do as well as I had planned them to be… sometimes, you cannot just beat the insect-pests… still, we had quite a harvest, and they tasted very good too…

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Radishes… hmm, not too good either… in fact, rather miserable… looking forward to next season to try again….

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For the first time, our lemon tree gave us about 12 fruits this year… I think this is a practice session for the tree, and I hope it will give us more fruits next year…

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‘Pomkan’, a type of Mandarin orange, gave us a bumper harvest this year… over 120 fruits… they are so succulent and fragrant…

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Limes galore… we had soooo much that I had to share with our neighbors and my work colleagues… too much for me to count… they have a very refreshing flavor, and one of our neighbors was so delighted that he immediately rewarded us with his home-made soba noodles…

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And yes, navel oranges… compared to last year’s bonanza, we had only about 80 this time… I really love the sweetness of this fruit… so juicy, so full-bodied…

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Autumn 2017 delights…

Autumn is without doubt, my favorite season of the year…
The temperature is cool, the air… dry and comfortable…
Plus, it is a wonderful time for gardening…

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On top of all these, it is also the season of my favorite fruit in Japan…
The persimmons, known as ‘kaki’ in Japanese…
When we acquired this property, I foolishly chopped off a large chunk of the persimmon tree that was growing on the slopes…
Reason was, it was the ‘astringent’ type, as opposed to the ‘sweet’ type…

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Since then, I had learned that there are a few ways to treat the astringent fruit, so as to sweeten them for eating…
I regretted the chopping act, and the tree punished me by making me wait for about 8 years before it decided to fruit again…
This season, we were rewarded with more than 30 fruits…
I hugged the tree and said ‘please forgive me for my sin’…

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There is this thing with red, red peppers that attract me…
Somehow, I just enjoy photographing them very much…
The peppers have adapted well to our potager, and they self-seed the following season…
Which is a wonderful thing…

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I am really not so sure what gourd this is…
I got the seeds from a seed company in Chiang Mai…
The name and instructions were all in Thai language…
Asked a few Thai friends, but they didn’t know either…
Anyway, the flesh tasted like winter pumpkin…

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The Japanese folks call this ‘higanbana’…
In English, ‘cluster amaryllis’? Hmmm…
In any case, isn’t this flower adorable?
To me, it is one of the representative flowers of the autumn season…

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A neighbor had given to me the ‘rhizome’ (?) of this plant ages ago…
It must have been about 10 years ago, I think…
Finally, the plants decided to bestow us with this lovely specimen… woohoo…

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Potager Y, mid summer 2017

Woohoo… some (delayed) updates of the potager…

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This pic was actually from early spring (hence the attire), with yours truly feeling happy with the tomatoes…

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Yes, the tomatoes did quite well, and we made tomato chutney out of the green ones, and shared some of them with our neighbors…

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The potager was looking pretty and neat…

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The chard seedling started off well…

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The companions, lettuce and onions, got along very nicely…

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So did the Komatsu-na…

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The purple Malabar spinach is as always, looking somewhat photogenic…

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Carrots were okay… not too bad…

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But the cauliflowers were a bit miserable and smallish…

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The ‘Pom-kan’ orange tasted very nice, and we look forward to seeing a bigger harvest next time…

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The snap peas, did marvelously well, and gave us lots to eat over a few months…

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The fava beans did equally well, and luckily, the crows did not come for them…

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And finally, the Sakura cherries were lovely to look at and to eat…
Again, we were very happy to harvest them before the little birds came…

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Ten years of Potager Y @ Japan

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We acquired this piece of land in 2007…
It was wild… and I was equipped with just simple garden tools…
Took me months, but I managed to manually clear up the land and carved up the lots…
(See here and here for an account and some pictures of the early days of Potager Y…)
Now, ten years into playing with the earthworms, I finally muster enough ‘courage’ to put up a (hand-written) sign board for the garden…

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Grew four broccoli plants last autumn…
All four performed very well…
Next season, definitely going to grow them again…

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The Japanese folks call this vegetable ‘Naba-na’…
My translation: ‘Vegetable flower’…
This veggie is a new experiment for the potager…
The part that is eaten is the flower bud section…
We pick and pick, and the plants produce and produce…
Lovely veggie… shall be growing them next season too…

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My ‘sweeto-haato’ first bought this pumpkin from the local farmer’s market years ago…
I liked the taste of it, and kept the seeds…
Am not so sure of the name, but we call them ‘peanut kabocha’ (‘kabocha’ = pumpkin)…
The beauty of this pumpkin is in its ease to grow…
The popular type of pumpkin in Japan is the ‘Ebisu’ pumpkin…
But I find their young leaves are prone to attacks by those little-little yellow bugs…
Not so the peanut kabocha, whose leaves have more spiky hairs (to ward off those bugs?)…
This season, we managed to harvest about 15 of these lovely pumpkins…

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Peeled and boiled the peanuts harvested from the potager…
Home-grown peanuts are really something to relish over…

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This is called the ‘Dai-dai’ orange in Japanese parlance…
Its forte is its acidity, rather thick skin, and firm flesh…
Which makes is a fine candidate for making marmalade…
This plant is for my sweeto-haato…
She is quite fond of making those lovely marmalade with this orange…

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And finally, a picture of our white ume flowers…
We over-trimmed the plant last autumn, so there will not be too many plums for us to enjoy…

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