Shepherds Run Farm

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Category: Garden

Weeds and Their Stranglehold

Weeds are Killing Me!

Let’s face it, as a beekeeper I struggle every year with what to apply to help keep weeds at bay. This is especially difficult since I do not want to use the commercially available weed killers. Last year I gave up completely and the farm looked like that Husqvarna commercial – “Taming the Wild”.

weed spray search results

Without those name-brand weed killers, what’s a girl to do?

This year I was bound and determined to find a way to deal with the ever-present “Wild” in my garden and around the farm, and so began my internet quest.  For the record, I did look at the weed torches available and decided that fire was probably NOT the right way to go for me. So I continued my search  and it didn’t take me long to find several recipes for homemade weed spray. Click HERE, HERE, and HERE for some options. All three offer some different information (although the recipes all contain vinegar) so check them out if you’ve got the time. The guy in the following video gives you a 9-minute tour of him killing weeds.

 

The gallon sprayer in my feature photo contains 1 gallon of white vinegar, about 1/4 cup Dawn Blue dish detergent, and about 1/2 cup of epsom salt. I did my spraying about 1 pm, it was day with about 80 degree temperatures and low humidity.  On a side note, Lowes Home Improvement apparently sells 64 oz. containers of cleaning vinegar for $1.79 (according to their website – it’s in the cleaning section) I paid $2.48 p/gal. at Walmart (better deal) for 5% acidity white vinegar. Click HERE for the difference between regular vinegar and cleaning vinegar.

weeds after being sprayed with vinegar

A little less than 24 hours after spraying.

A little less than 24 hours later. The solution worked very well on “grasses” and light-weight weeds. I sprayed the solution on some chocolate mint and it barely turned the edges of the leaves brown. I may have to spend a bit more time on plants like the mint – making sure I really cover them. Maybe adding some of the essential oils mentioned in the recipe links above might be the answer. I am not sure at this point. I will report back when I have a better idea what will work on the mint.

some weeds not affected by vinegar solution.

After 24 hours, works on some weeds, but not all.

The mint is in the top left edge of this garden, you would hardly know it received any solution. Maybe it will take a little longer for it to work on the mint but as you can see, the grass has started to die but there is still a lot of green around my butterfly and lilac bushes where the mint has invaded the space. Verdict: this homemade spray might be an acceptable garden weed killer to use in place of anything commercially available. I don’t mind spraying every week if I can avoid having to use the toxic chemicals.

What do you do to combat weeds in your garden if you don’t want to use the toxic chemicals? Please let me know your favorite recipe.

Bees Succeed, Garden a Wash – 2015 Recap

It’s all about the Bees.

This summer has had it’s ups and downs. I’ve been so busy volunteering for All Shepherd Rescue that I have neglected so many things on the farm. The upside to that is the numerous foster dogs we have had this year have all been adopted. The downside is the garden was raided early on by deer, the weeds took over, and I just decided to “give up”. Much to my surprise the other day, I have some viable volunteer tomato plants, some basil, some rosemary, and some cilantro to harvest. Thankful for some fresh produce this year even if I did nothing to deserve it. I haven’t even done much with the bees other than observe their comings and goings. The number of canine lives that have been saved due to ASR’s rescue efforts makes it all worth it.

I’ve been meaning for weeks to get out to check the hive, it was either too hot to suit up (I actually have a honey bee allergy so I wear a ventilated full suit), too windy, or raining. On the days that were good days to get into the hive, I always had other things to do. Well, today was going to be the last low humidity day for the next week or so which translated to my last chance for a while to get in and see what was going on.

bees, beehive, honey, frame, honey harvest

Fully loaded – front and back.

So I suited up, fired up the smoker, and headed out for the hive. (The feature photo is from last year when I had just brought home two swarms that a fellow Keep had caught.) 2015’s colony  is a four-deep – also a Southern Maryland swarm – having lost the two new swarms to who knows what. Lots of propolis sealed the inner cover which once removed, a beautiful sight appeared. A hive teaming with bees, and two deeps full of honey – well over 200 pounds, not counting what might be in the two lower deeps. Doing a quick survey of the third deep, I observed a good 100 pounds and decided that taking eight frames from the fourth deep would still leave them plenty of food this winter.

local honey, bees, harvest

80# fresh, local honey.

I had been keeping four frames containing partially filled honey comb in my freezer since last fall, so I thawed and added them to the hive. The bees will clean them up and after I harvest this year’s honey, I will put four of the empty frames back into the hive for the fall flow. The empty drawn comb will be stored in the freezer to prevent wax-moths and be used when I add colonies in the spring. I’ve already been in touch with a couple reputable bee suppliers and fully expect to have to purchase packages of bees next year in order to expand the apiary. I would love to have a minimum of four colonies on a consistent basis.

Stay tuned for a follow up post detailing the extracting process and the total yield from today’s harvest.

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