Monday 29 April 2013

EU ban on pesticides

"Bee deaths: EU to ban neonicotinoid pesticides"

See story and background info in BBC story

Good news that the EU and member state's governments are taking this matter seriously at last. Our ecosystems are so complex it's difficult to pinpoint the cause of lack of bees. Maybe it's the pesticides (these or others), maybe it's the weather, mobile phones or just a natural cycle we haven't recognised. But we should try to find an answer and reverse the trend. There has certainly been a reduction in bee numbers here - especially honey bees. Actually, I don't really mind what insects do the pollination. One year we had 2 large wasps nests in the garden which did wonders for the raspberries which the wasps seemed to adore.
I do wonder whether commercial bees are getting publicity for their problems when the issues may well also be with bumble bees and all the other bees and insects that work hard for our harvests as well as themselves.

See my post on first bee seen 
But it's only this last week that we've seen many more - mostly big bumble bees.

Monday 22 April 2013

Flower show

I walked round the garden and took these photos of spring flowers. They really make a show, especially the heathers. There's quite a few butterflies - mainly peacocks - and some bees now. Hope there will be more bees when the fruit trees are in flower to make a good crop this year.

Daffodils and a shrub with delicate yellow flowers - don't know the name

Snakes-head fritillaries

Heathers have been flowering right through the winter - even in the snow

Jetfire daffodils

Wednesday 17 April 2013

One swallow.....

Yesterday afternoon I saw a swallow darting over the garden, proof that spring is really here even if one swallow doesn't make a summer! This week the weather has turned warm and flowers are blooming everywhere. There are a few, very few, bees emerging and a couple of butterflies.The ground is drying out and should be able to start planting the potatoes at the weekend.
The nut cages on the bird table were visited by one of last years brood of squirrels - Skinny-Tail squirrel who is looking a bit plump and may well be a Mrs Squirrel expecting!

Monday 8 April 2013

Pruning raspberries in the sun

Sunday was a beautiful Spring day - warm and sunny with a gentle southerly breeze. It was great to get out in the garden and start preparing for the new season.

I spent a couple of hours tidying up the raspberries. Last year they produced luscious fruit right through the year. I cut last year's new stems down to 18-24 inches. They are already budding and a few have started to open bright green leaves. They will produce an early harvest and the brand new stems, which aren't even showing yet, will produce fruit through the summer and autumn.  Then I removed the 2-year-old stems which had died back anyway so just a firm tug was needed to release them from the base.
Looking forward to some beauties like these in a few months!

More about Raspberries and other soft fruit and berries at Froggarts Cottage >>

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Indoor planting to beat the cold

Well, my planned Easter in the garden didn't happen!
There's still quite a bit of snow on the ground and the beds are sodden where they are not actually frozen. My son, Paul, dug over the "using" compost heap and filled a barrow and several large pots. It's 2-3 years old and looks pretty good. I planted up a couple more big pots with some Tescos-bought Juliette potatoes which had started sprouting in the cupboard and these have joined the row of pots of Orla potatoes in the big conservatory. The sun is quite warm and the day-time temperature in there is around 20 deg so hopefully we'll see some green shoots soon.
One of the 4 marrow seeds planted 10 days ago and kept on the south-facing bay window has sprouted. Nice to see some signs of Spring.
There's no point in planting anything in the sodden cold veg plots so today I (with a little help from Mum) planted up 12 pots, 5 seeds in each, of broad bean seeds saved from last year's bumper harvest. They'll be nice and warm in her conservatory and hopefully will grow into sturdy plants to put outside when the weather decides it really is Spring.