A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Yacón Planted

Yacón is another South American crop that I am attempting to grow this coming season. In some respects it is similar to oca, which was the subject of my last post, in that it also is a tuber with a long growing season and is from South America. That is not the reason I am growing this crop. The first reason is the same as why I grew oca and that is that I'm fascinated by these plants and they do make a good talking point as most people haven't heard of them before but the main reason I am growing this is the reported health benefits.

Yacón's tubers are the edible bit of the plant and are described as being very sweet and juicy if eaten raw, although they can also be cooked in any way a potato can. It is what happens once it is eaten that interests me. Yacón's main storage carbohydrate is different to potatoes in that it is primarily made of a substance called inulin.

Looking at the Wikpedia entry on inulin there are quite a few benefits of having it in your diet with only one down side that I will mention later. The main benefit to me is that the body doesn't accept inulin the same as sugars and starch so that it passes through our gut without absorption. On its way through it does feed friendly bacteria and helps us absorb calcium along with magnesium. It's also listed as a source of soluble fibre.

That's the good points.... The bad point is not so much bad but more unpleasant, or at least potentially unpleasant! The reason for this is that while it feeds friendly bacteria it also can cause the overgrowth of methanogenic bacteria, which as the name hints are the ones that produce methane and make your bottom burp! I personally don't see this as a major problem as I doubt we will produce enough of it for it to be a regular addition to the dinner plate and also the good aspects far outweigh the potential embarrassment of a little trump now and again.

In the photo below the growing tips are on top of moist compost. After the photo was taken I pushed them into the compost and have now left them and with a little luck they will start to grow in spring


Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Oca Harvested

Last week we had a day that was warmer than it had been in the previous days, I think it got as high as 7°C. Compared to the weather we've had it was almost tropical. The temperature had dropped below freezing on several occasions and as a result the tops of my oca plants have died off, so it was a perfect time to harvest them! If you haven't heard of oca then here is the Wikpedia link.

Oca 2012 crop

Oca is a crop from South America that forms tubers under ground that grow when the days start getting shorter. If I had to compare it to anything it would have to be the potato even though it does have it's own taste. It can also be eaten raw and has a slight sweet flavour and crisp, almost radish like, texture. In this years crop the tubers are much smaller than last year and as a result I doubt that much of it will reach the table, although I will have plenty stored to plant out next year. I have also purchased another South American tuber crop called Yacón to grow next year, which will probably be the feature of one of my next posts  

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Wakefield and Pontefract Beekeepers: Novembers Meeting

The last Monday of November was the last meeting we will have of the year as we don't have meetings in December. The meetings main part was a presentation by our association's president who is also the regional Bee inspector for the North East of England. The subject was about giving your bees the best start possible to start the new year. 

We were asked when the beekeeping season really started or was it more dynamic than simply having a start and end date. Does the bee season run from spring to spring, winter to winter or even from when the Queen starts laying to when she finishes laying. 

We also discussed winter mite treatments which include oxalic acid. This treatment is applied when the Queen had stopped laying and there is no brood present. It involves putting small amounts of diluted acid mixed in sugar syrup directly on the bees. This will kill the mites but not affect the bees. The treatment comes either in crystal form or in a pre made solution. This year I have bought a pre made solution as this will be easier for me. 

The presentation also included various graphs showing how quickly the mite population can increase if not treated. It showed the difference between starting the season with only a few mites compared with about 50 and over 100. With only a few it takes a really long time for the mite population to get to really dangerous levels but with 100 mites it takes much less time. Even with 50 it takes a lot less time than with over 100.

Another thing we were shown was a map of our region showing where the different foul brood diseases have been detected over the last few years. Luckily there were no major outbreaks of either disease near to my apiary, though I will still have to be very vigilant for they can be devastating and you have to report any signs of either disease. 

The meetings was finished as usual with a raffle, though as I'd forgot my wallet that was out of the question! I did get offered a cup of tea by a fella that lives close to me, we have since swapped details so the meetings in the new year we will be able to car share.