a seasonal salad from the garden

IMG_5852It’s salad season in my garden.  Well, specifically, it is lettuce season.  Living in the south means that lettuce is a cool weather crop while all the other parts of a salad, like tomatoes or cucumbers, are warm weather crops.  Luckily, it is always fresh egg season in the chicken coop!

IMG_5848There are a dozen different salad greens in the garden right now.  In the salad above are Bloomsdale spinach, baby beet greens, parsley, salad bowl leaf lettuce, buttercrunch, forellenschluss and arugula.

IMG_5840Simply dressed with vinaigrette, garnished with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and some kalamata olives and served with the paper; my idea of lunch.

IMG_5841IMG_5844IMG_5845IMG_5849IMG_5851Of course, adding a hard boiled egg from one of our golden laced wyandotte hens and a slice of bread makes it a light, refreshing meal perfect for any season.

news from the garden


Things are taking shape in the garden.  Our lasagna bed is slowly filling with herbs and flowers and above is a photo of a selection of flowers planted to attract beneficial insects.    The straw bales are coming along, a bit slower than I hoped but things are growing.


The bigger news is the addition of honeybees to our backyard.  We were beekeepers when we lived in Nashville and when we packed up to move to Williamsburg, we brought all of our woodenware and equipment.  One of the first things we did when we unpacked was to join the Colonial Beekeepers Association.


One of the members of the association arranged to pick up packages with marked queens from Mann Lake.  After picking up our bees, Darry put them into the hive and they began foraging immediately.


A hive inspection revealed that they are gathering nectar as well.  The white spot in each of the cells is actually the reflection of sunlight on the surface of the nectar curing and once it is ready, the bees will cap each cell.


As we ventured further into the hive, we noticed lots of activity and randomly placed cells between two frames that is commonly referred to as brace comb.


As we pulled frames out, we found capped brood and larvae and of course, her majesty, the queen.  Can’t figure out which one she is-that big blue dot should make it obvious.


The activity level here is typical of a hive and it quickly explains the origins of the phrase, “busy as a bee” because they never stop moving.


Even though they are actively foraging, they still need a little help from us.  Because they have nothing stored in the hive, we give them sugar syrup so that they can build a reserve of syrup to feed themselves.  The first year is a critical time for a new colony and taking honey from them is not an option this year.  If all goes well, we will be able to harvest honey in year two.


The bees are big on building brace comb and once again, they built some in the feeder box.


Bees aren’t the only new addition to our garden.  We also added a flock of chickens.  Golden Laced Wyandottes are beautiful birds and we are excited to have them.


These girls are growing quickly and they are beginning to get their adult feathers.


And they are also sprouting tail feathers and the beginning of their combs.  When they are living outdoors in the coop, we plan to use the chickens to help us control small hive beetles in the bee hive.

IMG_3621Check back to see the progress of our girls, meaning the chickens and the bees!