Sunday, August 28, 2011

Bees on the Catnip

When we moved into our current house it helped that there were already many perennial plants in, including catnip and hollyhock all along the front yard. The bees and other pollinators have enjoyed these all summer.

I have noticed so many different pollinators, in fact, that I interlibrary loaned The Bees of the World by Charles D. Michener to try and identify the many different bees. The book, however, is 600+ pages and covers a lot of the technical aspects without necessarily helping with identification. A good book in its own right, but not what I needed for identification (however, if you are interested in classification aspects and historical development of bees I would recommend it).

Does anyone know of a good bee identification website? Here are a few of my bees on the white-flowered catnip. Click on the image for greater detail.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sharing good book lists on WorldCat

I was looking up a book on today (Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered) and I realized how much I love living in a digital age.

For those of you who don't know WorldCat, it is an online library resource that provides the "official" library record with all of the publication info and library holdings worldwide, but it also provides Web 2.0 tools for everyone--like tagging, reviews, and the ability to make reading lists. If you want to create a reading list, you can create a free account and keep track of all the books you like, want, need, or hope to use later. However, if you don't want your own, you can still see other people's lists that they have made public.

So, at the bottom of the (Small is Beautiful) record I could see all of the public lists that include the book. In particular, I was impressed by this list: "Ecominimalism" by meg2584 []. The list's owner describes it as "A messy reading-list-in-progress, for a back-burner project of mine, synthesizing works on the natural and built environments, health, (anti)consumerism, development economics, and both upper- and lower-case-m minimalism." Awesome list, currently 69 books. I have read a few of them, and heard of a lot of them. But there are many I will be seeking out (probably using WorldCat, since the list is already right there).

Monday, August 15, 2011

Speaking of Mushrooms

We are in week two of a new mushroom kit and the mushrooms have sort of tapered off--then I realized, it said 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight a day & apparently someone closed the blinds. I have been in a mushroom mood of late, leading me to explore this great, relatively new mushroom book: Mushrooming without Fear: The Beginner's Guide to Collecting Safe and Delicious MushroomsOutdoors & Nature Reference Books). I have seen some great mushroom books, but this one is the best I have had the chance to come upon. It is very colorful, very clear, and tells you when you need to be concerned that something you've found looks similar to a poisonous variety. Good read, if only to take my mind away from the indoor mushrooms we are trying so hard to grow. Perhaps in the spring we will get brave enough to go OUT and look for mushrooms.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Librarians Share Bad Teacher Traits #learntrends

This post has been moved to a new location at

The Beekeeping Librarian will continue to have posts, photos, and resources pertaining to gardening, urban homesteading, beekeeping, and cooking. Library-specific posts and things for librarians can be found at the new site.

Good Teacher Traits, According to Librarians ... #learntrends

This post has been moved to a new location at

The Beekeeping Librarian will continue to have posts, photos, and resources pertaining to gardening, urban homesteading, beekeeping, and cooking. Library-specific posts and things for librarians can be found at the new site.

Finally Trying a Mushroom Kit

We've debated about getting a mushroom kit before--mainly the debate has been that we would rather buy the plugs that you can insert into tree stumps or the spores you can mix in to straw to create a mushroom "bed" in your garden. In fact, we did just that in the fall. Perhaps mushrooms are coming up right now in the straw bed we prepared last summer. Sadly, we are 300 miles away now and have to settle for a mushroom kit in the house, since we don't have the extra bed space to devote to mushrooms. Plus, we may not even be in this house next year (we are renting). So, a kit is what we got. If we were going to cultivate non-kit, I would recommend The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home by Paul Stamets.

We bought our kit from a local hardware, but it is from Garden City Fungi in Missoula, Montana. They are a certified organic mushroom farm and I also like that they are close to home. We just got our first Shiitakes from it last night & ate them with brown rice and broccoli raab from the Helena Farmer's Market. My only complaint is that the kit will "finish" after two or possibly three cycles, so it is not a long-term mushroom solution. I assume we will chop up the block after that and compost it. But for those of us in apartments who want to experiment and/or don't want to pay a ton for organic mushrooms (shiitakes are so expensive, organic or not!!), I would recommend it. One tip: we have the kit on a plastic tote lid (and on the tray it comes with) since it does get pretty moist under the provided humidity tent.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Year Without Posts & a Spring Without Bees

It has been a year since I last posted to this blog, in part because I had started another one during our house-building and move to a small plot of land in NW Montana. However, life took a few odd turns and, despite just finishing our little house and loving the land we were on, I was offered a really good job that I really wanted. As a result, we moved 300 miles to the middle of Montana. I am still in the library world, but some of our homesteading efforts are temporarily on hold while we work out what it means to be living in a small city instead of a tiny town. Our bees and chickens were adopted by friends since we did not have suitable living arrangements for them. However, we have made the best of it and are still brewing, growing mushrooms, making things from scratch, and growing as large a garden as we can on our small space. I am hoping to get back to having some small livestock next year. In the meantime??? I must read, read, read. I will come back to this blog and share resources as well as our slightly more urban homesteading methods.

This book is a good indicator of where we are at at the moment: