bean poles

Our neighbor had been wondering about the poles in the garden and why we were apparently making two small teepees; he asked if we were native.

The long and the short answers to that question are the same: no, we are not native. Both my wife and I have heritages that hail from northern and north-central Europe – not the Americas.

We put a new vegetable garden in this year – eight feet by eight feet. It takes up a small section of the yard that the grass never really grew in and the hounds really were never encouraging to the grass that attempted to grow there. In this new garden, we are mainly growing vine-crops: pole beans, bush beans, and cucumbers; in the non-vine arena, there are red cabbage & parsnips and lavender for a border.

The garden has a couple interesting (at least to me) characteristics that led me to "teepee" the poles for the beans, which then led our neighbor to ask if we were native. The ultimate, underlying (literally) factor is the natural gas pipe that comes our house – it is directly beneath the garden – roughly twelve inches below the surface. We could not till the garden and I am slightly nervous even to use a shovel or pitchfork in this area. A lasagna garden seemed like an ideal choice. Cardboard was put over the existing weeds and grass, roughly a cubic yard of compost was spread over this and then another cubic yard of soil was mixed into the compost. With the gas line underneath and the cardboard above, teepeeing the bean poles was the option where I did not have to pound them into the soil – thus avoiding the gas line.

All the gardens are popping now; while the rest of Minnesota has been experiences abnormally high temperatures, those of us in the Duluth area have been experiencing pleasant temperatures in the low 70s. Cooler night temperatures have been causing dew to form on the plants – giving them a nice drink. The beans in the teepee garden are sprouting, as are the carrots, radishes, potatoes, cabbage, peas, lavender, cone flowers, cucumbers, tomatoes (which were started indoors before the snow left) and parsnips. The Haralson apple tree, that we purchased just this spring, is showing signs that it will bear fruit this season. The bilberry and currant bushes are showing nice, green fruit; the strawberry plants are brimming with flowers – the same goes for the raspberry bushes. The newly planted asparagus crowns have shot up thin spears already, too. The Georgian garlic plants are pushing twenty-inches tall. The only things that looks questionable are the Frontenac grape vines. It appears that nearly all of the vines did not make it through the winter. The roots survived, and are pushing out new vines, but it sets us back a couple years for decent grape production.


On the bee-front, things are progressing well. The Carniolans are showing their strength in building out wax comb as well as fast brood production. The Minnesota Hygienic Italians are, compared to the Carniolans, much slower at both activities. I consolidated the frames back into one brood super and now have eight frames (out of eight) with at least one side of drawn comb. I am hoping this will allow for a more speedily path to more brood, and more brood will eventually mean more workers for building comb and gathering nectar and pollen.

Sam Bradley – friend, co-worker and business partner, stopped by on the 28th of May. He brought his camera and was eager (as eager as Sam gets) to get the bee suit on and get into the bee yard. A video of the adventure can be found here.

On the technology & blog front, I am implementing a podcast management framework within It will allow for a straightforward way to setup and upload video and audio podcasts as well as allow for publishing via iTunes.