Archive for May, 2013

  • The end of may

    • Front garden

      Front garden

    • Foxgloves

      Foxgloves

    • Greenfly munchers

      Ladybird Larvae

    A busy month indeed. The allotment is coming along well, and feel like I am starting to see the end of the tunnel with all the digging to prepare the new no-dig beds. The weather has been rather good at times, warming up the soil too, and both the back courtyard and the small front garden are growing well too.
    There’s been lots of potting on of my vegetable youngsters and am trying to juggle space both inside and out to keep them all happy.

    The courtyard has been a buzz throughout the month. I’d left the remainder of the purple sprouting broccoli to go to flower, and have had the delight of watching numerous species of bees and hoverflies visiting the courtyard. The bee that caught my attention the most, was the delightful  Hairy-Footed Flower Bee which I wrote about here (and managed to catch a quick audio recording too!) Also the foxgloves are now out in the courtyard (raised from seed from my previous garden) and the bees are busy on those too. I’ve never done a garden with raised beds for the plants and flowers before, and I’ve been enjoying the difference of sounds from the visiting buzzy friends. With the foxgloves raised up in the beds, the ‘tinny’ noise of the bees in the flowers is so much louder, and a lovely noise of their ‘buzzy busy-ness’ it is too.

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  • The hairy-footed flower bee

    • 1_bee

      hairy footed flower bee

    • in flight

    • her home

    • busy bee

    • rubbing off the pollen

    The spring courtyard garden is alive with the buzzing and humming of bees and hoverflies.  I recently noticed a distinctive buzz and to my delight, discovered a ‘new to me’ bee. (you can listen to the audio of the bee at the end of this post) I’d probably seen them before, but never really noticed this one.  A couple of weeks ago, I first noticed a little black bee buzzing around busily on the rosemary bush in the courtyard. I’d just been admiring the hoverflies and trying to follow another little flurrying friend which looked like the first bee-fly of the season before being distracted by this little black bee.  It was quite unusual, very spritely and fast, very busy indeed and looked like it’s long proboscis was permenantly extended out too.  I watched the darting patterns of where she flew, and to my surprise, she ventured towards a hole on the outside wall and in she went.

    I was entranced by this little bee, so had to find out a little more.  Whilst trying to identify the bee, I came across a blog post with the most wonderful illustrations of the male and female of this bee over on the Courtyard Gardeners blog and discovered that my little bee that I’d spotted was a female hairy-footed flower bee (Anthophora Plumipes).
    I’ve left the leftovers of the purple sprouting broccoli and the kale to flower in the courtyard to be able to provide a spring nectar source for the visiting pollinators and it’s been a buzz with lots of different species of bees and hoverflies, and this bee seems to quite enjoy them too.

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  • Learning to cultivate mushrooms

    mushroom logToday my youngest son Oli and I spent the day up at School Farm in Dartington learning how to cultivate mushrooms with Adam and Eric of Fungi Futures on their popular Home Grower course.

    The day began with Adam showing us around their growing set up, with a peek into their inoculation room and some of the containers where they evolve the spores. We were then given an introduction to the day outlining what we’d be doing during the event, as well as gaining a deeper understanding all about mushrooms from how they live through to how to cultivate and how to produce, as well as the attendees of the day sharing our motivations for attending the course. I confessed that I wasn’t originally a big fan of the taste of mushrooms but learning to like them much more now, with thanks to being inspired from testing out one of their Grow Kits recently, and that all mushrooms don’t taste the same! There were six of us altogether, all with different interests in growing mushrooms, including Nigel who is a hobby beekeeper and lives in the New Forest, Alison and Paul both from the New Forest too, who enjoy foraging for mushrooms, and Kieron from Bristol who makes wooden planters in his spare time, along with Oli and I.

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  • No dig beds

    • Manure added

    • Mulching the paths

    • No dig beds

    After what felt like a long time clearing the space for the new no dig beds on the allotment, I’m pleased (and so is my back!) that two of the beds are now fully made. My main veg ‘patch’ consists of one big rectangle, and within will contain four 8ft by 4ft beds, with 1ft paths around the edge and 2ft paths across the middle cross sections.
    Ideally this preparation would have been completed during autumn or winter or at latest early spring, but alas, I only got the allotment in February, and progress was rather slow initially due to the weather. But with the recent spell of bright and sunny weather, it enabled me to speed up the process more. The full area is now cleared of turf, and (hopefully!) most of the dock, dandelion and creeping buttercup dug out and masses of stone and rubble are now removed too. Much of the area had to be double dug, something of which I’m not planning to repeat in the future, as aiming to explore Charles Dowdings’ approach with No Dig growing for the vegetable beds.

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