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Green Magpie


Latest posts by Green Magpie

Talkback: Beekeeping

Posted: 28/08/2012 at 16:10

My husband took up beekeeping a couple of years ago. He has got very involved and loves it, but there's a lot more to it than just getting a hive or two. You need to choose your bees, learn to check them and treat them for diseases, cope with swarms, feed them when they run out of food, etc etc. The honey is great, but the bees certainly don't pay their way, as there's quite a bit of expense involved (hives, frames, protective clothing, smoker, honey containers, possibly an extracting machine, etc.)

Honey bees will fly 2 or 3 miles in search of food, so they won't have to rely on your garden. Usually they'll find good sources of nectar, although this summer there was a big "hungry gap" in the cold early summer, and they started eating up their stores. Honey yields are down by perhaps 75% this year. They don't share as much as you might think with other species - other types of bee, for instance, have longer tongues and can reach into different flowers.

And yes, beekeepers will sometimes put a couple of hives in a large garden and give the owner a few pots of honey in exchange, but they'd want to check it out and make sure they bees could be in a place where they wouldn't cause a nuisance to you or to others. We have two of our hives in a local cider orchard now, and it's produced some very good honey with a nice sharp tang to it. But after the apple blossom season, the bees had to go elsewhere and the later honey is very thick and crystallised - possilby they found some bean-flowers, or oilseed rape.

It's a fascinating subject and you can do various courses in all aspects of bees and beekeepng.

The best thing would be to contact your local branch of the British Beekeeping Association and talk to some local members. They will know where you could join a local class where you're taught the basics before you get as far as actually acquiring bees.

 

 

Gw subscription

Posted: 24/08/2012 at 18:36

They do different offers from time to time - sometimes they throw in a gift such as a book or a sweatshirt. I looked out for good offers and in Jan this year I took up an offer of £13.50 per 6 months. No extra gifts, but it seemed like a good deal compared with other offers.

You mya find you can cancel after your first 5 cheap issues. They count on most people forgetting or not bothering to do this, or simply liking the mag enough to keep paying the full rate.

local flower show

Posted: 22/08/2012 at 17:11

Yes, give it a go! I enter a few things (mostly veg) every year in the local village show and always get at least couple of awards. These are, I think, £1 for a First and 80p for a Second, so you won't get rich, but it's quite satisfying if your produce gets recognition. I usually do well with my carrots, courgettes and beans, while the flower entries are more hit-and-miss. I have a very blue hydrangea which sometimes does well, as it's a fab colour and no one else seems to have a pure blue one locally.

You can learn a lot from looking at the winning entries and seeing what the judges are looking for, and then at least next year you'll know what's worth entering. I also just enjoy seeing all the exhibits from the other classes, and admiring the achievements of other people. I don't see it as being about showing-off or jealousy, it's more a kind of community celebration of our harvest and our gardens.

newly planted perennial plugs

Posted: 17/08/2012 at 09:09

I was reassured to hear on GW that penstemons (which I know nothing about) are disliked by slugs and snails and safe from attack, so at least that's one hazard they're safe from. Some of the slugs around my compost heap are bigger than most of the plug plants at the moment.

I'd expect lavenders to over-winter OK - I have some very small ones in the border that have been there since last year, they seem quite hardy. I'm still not sure about the rest.

Beetroot

Posted: 16/08/2012 at 18:25

I've planted two rows of beetroot this year, at different times. thei earlier ones were not bad - they didn't get past golf-ball sized but they were sweet and tasty. But the later rwo, of the same variety, is doing almost nothing - small leaves and no swelling of the roots at all. I think it's the weather - they need a bit of warmth and they just haven't had it.

newly planted perennial plugs

Posted: 16/08/2012 at 12:38

I received mine in July and some are still a bit small, but like Hollie-hock I have planted my foxgloves out now. The rain has ensured that they are well watered in! I'm hoping to do ths same with the most of rest during the next month or so, rather than have to look after them in pots all winter. Also, if they did get too big for pots during the winter, I  wouldn't want to plant them out in cold weather. I do have a plastic mini-greenhouse so if necessary I can leave some of the smaller ones in there over the winter, although I'm hoping not to have to do this.

The free tomato seeds on the mag cover

Posted: 15/08/2012 at 10:16

Ignore my message above! I was confused. The tomatoes I am growing thsi year are Losetto, which are nothing like Maskotka. Maskotka are, as far as I remember, medium-sized rather than a true cherry tomaoto. but they still had the normal tomato colouring and skin texture, no spotting or toughness.

Rubard just won't die back...

Posted: 15/08/2012 at 09:33

Slugs aren't a problem with my rhubarb either. I think it's so huge and sturdy that it intimidates them. Or possibly it's a carnivorous type of rhubarb that eats slugs for breakfast - it certainly looks as if it could (sorry, Italophile, it's our compensation for cool, wet weather).

The free tomato seeds on the mag cover

Posted: 15/08/2012 at 09:27

Those don't sound anything like my Maskotka toms (which were not from the magazine, I think they were T&M or something). Mine are vigorous bush plants and now (at last!) they are producing cherry tomatoes, which are a normal tomato colour and very small. Mine don't have any blotches and the skin isn't particularly tough. It may be yours have some virsu or something, but if they're quite large, it doesn't even soudn as if they're Maskotka at all. Maybe someone else who got a free packet will confirm.

Rubard just won't die back...

Posted: 12/08/2012 at 20:43

On Gardeners' Question Time recently, one of the panellists said that there was no reason not to go on using rhubarb as long as the plants look vigorous. Mine is always very big and strong, and this year it is massive, so we had a rhubarb crumble last weekend. Both I and the rhubarb are still fighting fit, so I don't think it did either of us any harm.

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