From hedging our bets to betting our hedges

Low-input, low-maintenance, low-cost solutions to managing Seven Trees Farm are always under development, and security is on the list. While we’ve ticked off the more obvious measures, such as cameras, fences and lighting, it never hurts to have extra layers of protection when times get tough.

The hedgerows we started back in 2006 are maturing nicely, providing shade for pets and livestock, food for wildlife, and summer privacy for people. Now we’re extending the project to include deterring 2 and 4 legged varmints from the house yard, while adding bee/hummingbird food, medicinal plants and lovely, fragrant flowers.

Our robust rugosa rose inspired the first pick for the new hedge – Marie Bugnet. High Country Roses describes it as “A lovely rose with elegant pointed buds that open to fragrant, snow-white double blooms. One of the earliest to bloom in spring, repeating well into fall. The shrub is compact, reaching 3 feet tall and wide. Canes are a rich red in winter.”

Marie Bugnet:
From High Country Roses

Rugosa roses are generally hardier and require less fussing than ‘fancy’ roses, and the smaller size hopefully means less pruning too. We like this variety for a variety of reasons – fragrance, manageable size, long bloom time, and wicked thorns.

From Wikimedia Commons

There are some good lists and articles on defensive plantings, like this one, but each home and microclimate are unique, so not all plants listed work for everyone. We’ll add some evergreen shrubs for winter privacy (this hedgerow will screen the house from road view) and encourage previously planted herbs, like lemon balm, field mint, and catnip, to fill in the gaps. One top contender for evergreen addition is California lilac (genus Ceanothus) as it draws pollinators like bees to honey 🙂 It may not be hardy in our Fraser-outflow impacted microclimate, but it’s too pretty not to try.

Image result for california lilac
From Wikimedia Commons

 

Don’t worry, Bees happy!

Here’s part of the garden so far. This is the cooler side, that gets a little less sun than the other, so we planted onions, beets, carrots, chard, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi & potatoes here. For some reason, the carrots got off to a slow start, but they are kicking into gear now. There is also a very fragrant rugosa rose in the background, and a clump of rhubarb, both of which need to be moved someday.
We’re growing less beans this year (and canning all of them) so decided to try the old-fashioned teepee method. We used bamboo, which is relatively smooth, so the bean tendrils take a little longer to start climbing.

Reddale potatoes in flower. When all 3 kinds are blooming, it looks more like a flower bed than a potato patch. It’s just about time to start sneaking new potatoes, but hopefully we’ll manage to save a few to get bigger.

Some of the mixed greens we harvested this weekend. I think we ended up with 5 or so pounds of red & green oak leaf lettuce, romaine, and baby-leaf spinach.

See if you can spot the honeybee working over this mound of thyme flowers.

Here’s another bee checking out valerian flowers. Valerian is NW native plant that usually grows in mountain meadows. One variety is domestically grown for its roots, which are used in a calming tea. The flowers have a lovely fragrance too, and the plant self-seeds into a bit of a privacy screen. Our front border bed is about 2ft wide and over 70ft long. We’re constantly adding plants that we think the bees will like. Luckily they like herbs, so the thyme, valerian, sage, lemon balm, mint, oregano, etc. are very popular.

The blackberries are just starting to flower, and the bees are taking full advantage. This is their main nectar supply, and they’re no longer using the sugar syrup we’ve been supplementing them with. Our blackberry patch is about 40 x 50ft, and buzzing with all kinds of pollinators on a sunny day.

See if you can spot the bumble bee visiting a sage flower. We planted the sage for cooking use, but they are very striking when they bloom. And also very popular with the bee crowd….

If you have lots of clover in your lawn, you have a great excuse not to mow too often. Mowing the clovery parts of our yard takes longer because we try to go slow enough that the bees have time to move away from the mower’s path.

On our hive check this weekend, we were lucky enough to see some baby bees hatch. With all the activity in this picture, it’s hard to spot the newborns, so I circled a few. there are more hatching, but kind of obscured by the nursery attendants. It was also time to put the honey super on, so as it fills, the bees are making honey for us to harvest. A very exciting milestone!
And here’s Stew, showing off his incredible talent!