It’s a Bee Thing

I’ve seen it often enough to know that sleeping on sunflowers is a thing some bees do. Is it something they like? Something they want to do? That’s a mystery. But I suppose, for some solitary bees, once its nest is made and laid with eggs, there’s no point in going back. They may as well enjoy life and sleep on sunflowers. In the late afternoon, I’ll see bees still gathering pollen and sucking nectar on the huge sunflowers. If I had the time, I’d spend all day watching the sunflowers, counting the bees which come and go, and seeing which ones stay past sundown to rest their weary legs and sleep the night away on the blooms.

Many great scientific discoveries are made when someone sees something and thinks, “That’s odd.” There could be a universe of discoveries to be made by unraveling the reasons why bees sleep on sunflowers. Do they sleep anywhere on a sunflower or just on certain florets? Maybe a tiny handful of the florets secrete a special bee-attracting substance that intoxicates the bees and keeps them on the florets. Maybe this special substance is the cure for arthritis or something else. Maybe.

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Who Is the Fairest of them All?

Who is the fairest of them all? That is an easy answer. It’s Lulu with her lovely green eggs. Most of the hens have decided there are better things to do than lay eggs on hot summer days. Lulu isn’t one of those slackers.

Or is it serene Goldilocks?

Maybe the fronds of blue sage flowers are the fairest of them all.

Perhaps the fairest of them all are the ripening sun gold tomatoes, tomatoes too good to take to market. I go to harvest them for market and come up empty handed with a belly full of warm, ripe, heavenly sweet tomatoes. At least I try. It’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

What about the striated tomatoes growing plump in the hoop house? They sure are fair.

Definitely not the champagne grapes, which though they look wonderful and tempting, fail to ripen every year. Maybe not this year, please ripen this year.

Or maybe the fairest of them all is the bee making honey from the nectar of oregano blossoms. Where or where are you making your honey, little bee? Show me your secret hive so I can have but just one drop of what must be the most delicious, flavorful honey in the world.

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Things to Smile About on a Warm August Day

The white flower bean pods are getting plump. Grapes are fattening. It’s impossible to go into the garden without smiling.

And harvesting poppy seeds is an otherworldly affair. Do these even look like earth creatures? They look like oddities from another planet, alien space creatures wondering how to get their crashed space ship flying again, communicating in radio waves, beaming in all direction from their antenna caps, in frequencies we humans can’t hear. They can probably carry on simultaneous conversations with tens of other pods, unlike us humans who can barely carry on conversations with just one other human.

A poppy seed is just a spec. And all the information as to how to create a new poppy plant with spectacular blooms and alien looking poppy pods is contained in that tiny black spec. In one mouthful, you can eat enough poppy seeds to plant a whole field. We live on a wondrous, magical planet. There is no place like this within billions and billions of miles. We are the lucky ones.

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High Summer

Ripe blackberries are a sign of high summer. So are vegetables in bloom, radish, chard, arugula, epazote, and so many other greens are sending their flowers up to catch the bees buzzing through the garden.

Ripe tomatoes are within sight, their green turning day by day to yellow, orange, and red. But nothing says high summer like huge sunflowers following the summer sun.

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A Fun Harvest

August is starting out on a cool note. Much of the northern hemisphere is enduring insufferable heat. We’ve turned on the heat the last few mornings to take the chill off. The sunflowers are starting to open. The trick this year will be to harvest the seeds before the birds do.

The first of the poppies are ripening. They are ready to harvest when the portals under their caps open and the pods rattle when you shake them.

The trick is to hold them upright. Tip them and their tiny seeds will tumble out. I like to use a porcelain bowl when harvesting their seeds because when I tap their pods against the side of the bowel, it’s like ringing a porcelain bell.

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To Sleep on a Petal

How refreshing it must be to sleep on a petal. Spend your first wakening hour in the garden and you may see a fly or bee which is still wakening from spending a soft night on a sweet blossom. It might even be a recommendation in books bugs read. “You’ll wake up more rested if you sleep on a flower.” I could see some fly making that recommendation, along with a lively, heated discussion as to which flowers make the best bug beds.

The rising sun sets the onion flowers aglow. Every onion you eat was at one time a beautiful flower catching the morning sun. I do know that onion flower heads do not make good bug beds. Onion flower heads are great places for spiders to hide, and I’ve seen many a bug make the mistake of landing on an onion flower head only to be gobbled up by a lurking spider.

The corn is ripening, their tassels turning brown. I like the ones with the bright purple punk hair tassels.

This year I’ve had success growing white flower beans 白花豆 among the corn. Among the lower portions of the stalks, the bean pods are coming in thick. A few years back, I didn’t have much luck planting white flower beans among the corn. This year I planted the corn first, and let it get a foot tall or so before planting the beans, so that when they sprouted, the beans had something to climb. It’s much easier having a scaffolding that grows, than setting up a scaffolding for the beans to climb. In the fall when harvest is done, I’ll cut the corn stalks, and let the corn stalks and bean vines tumble to the ground to compost in place, and I won’t have to deal with ripping the dried bean vines off the scaffolding and putting it away for winter.

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Staying Cool

On warm summer days, watching tofu cooling in ice water is refreshing. I hesitate to use the word hot as compared to many other places this summer, our warmth would seem like someone turned on a large outdoor air conditioner.

In the frenzy of preparing for Saturday’s farmers market, there is still time to laugh at the ducks helping me pick which garlic deserve to be sold. And to take a picture of the basket of plump figs, which did not last long yesterday morning.

Today is a day to relax, sleep in, and see how the new chicks are doing. It won’t be long before they are running through the grass, brush, and woods, trying to keep up with their mother.

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