As I mentioned in the previous post, I left some vegetables and herbs flowering for pollinators and for seeds. It also helps to draw beneficial insects into the vegetable patch. The downside is that these beneficial insects don’t discriminate, they eat anything they can grab, honeybees and bumblebees included. But we never have to spray our vegetables.
There are many more herbs and vegetables in our garden as both of us love eating fresh vegetables and drinking herbal tea. Rubbing fresh herbs in your hands for the scent is also very refreshing. I think the herb pollen that mixes in with the honey is also a good medicinal property.
Next will be flowers for bees from what we love to hate….weeds.
I’ve been looking for flowers that bloom in autumn when nothing else will bloom. I’m just trying to give our garden some color and the bees a late snack on any day that is warm enough for them to come out of their hives. Not that many plants bloom at this time of year even the Goldenrod have already faded.
After some searching, I found Waterlily Colchicum and Fall White Crocus and planted them in late September. Saffron also blooms in autumn but somehow they have not produced flowers this year. I harvested some Saffron last year but this year there are plenty of leaves but no flowers. Hopefully some will produce some flowers before it gets too cold.
I actually encountered the Waterlily Colchicum for the first time a couple of years ago at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when I attended the Chili Festival. It was a love at first sight. There was a large patch of them blooming but I didn’t know what they were until I found them in a plant catalog. Here they are, a beautiful pink water lily look alike on dry land.
It’s nice to see colors in autumn that are not orange, yellow or red. Hopefully there will be more of them next autumn.
We are having a warm autumn this year. The daytime temperature is still hovering above 50° F on most days but drops back to slightly above 30° F at night. We had frost for a couple of days early on in the season which killed off most of the garden. So there is not much left for the bees.
Honeybees being honeybees, they still come out looking for food when the temperature is above 50° F and to relieve themselves as well. We had fed them in mid-October but now we still worry that their food storage may not be enough for a winter that has not yet come. Since they spend more energy flying around instead of semi-hybernating in the hive during this time of year, they probably have gone through more of their storage than usual. So we are putting sugar syrup out on warm days. They know exactly where the feeder is and zoom right to it. They still go for any flowers they find blooming at this time of year: Alyssum, Chinese broccoli, Broccoli raab and…Saffron.
I should have grown more saffron but I always start small with any newbies. If it fails I haven’t wasted much. My fellow blogger suggested that I may be able to leave them outside since they are hardy to zone 6. I will leave one pot out as an experiment. If they are like other crocuses that bloom in spring (which I grow in the ground) they should be fine. Then I can have plenty of saffron for tea and cooking, and plenty of food for honeybees in late autumn.
It has been five months since I posted last. Aside from busy with work and garden, my doctor advised me to spend less time in front of the computer. Bursitis and pinched nerve have been giving me aches and pain in my shoulders and arms. So after a long day of sitting in front of a computer at work, sitting in front of one at home is not recommended. Surprisingly enough, doing garden chores helps to ease the discomfort and after some routine exercise I’m back.
Autumn is almost gone and we are ready for winter. All the tropical plants are down in their basement winter camp and the beehives are wrapped up to keep the girls snug. All the leaves are gone but there are some flowers left in our garden and the Saffron is one of them. We are growing Saffron (Crocus sativus) for the first time and they are blooming.
I’ve been collecting their threads (stigmas) almost daily and dry them on a paper towel for a couple of days before preserving them in the vial. They have such a subtle scent.
I’m not sure I can leave them outside during winter. Winter here can be brutally cold (down to -4F last winter). They’re in pots now and I plan to put them in the garage once the temperature drops below the freezing point. Hopefully they’ll grow back and bloom next autumn so I don’t have to pay a hefty amount for just a few threads.