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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Where is the buzz of busy bees?

Posted: 02/06/2013 at 08:51

I don't think domestic gardeners and allotment holders should be blaming themselves too much for the lack of bees. My husband, a beekeeper, is pretty convinced that it's a combination of cold and starvation that has killed so many colonies this last winter. For what it's worth, he was very attentive to his bees and his colonies all survived, although some are not strong.

As regards spraying and pesticides, the amounts used by gardeners are tiny compared with what's sprayed on the fields and verges etc. We're pretty sure that the weather is the biggest factor here - it's been such a cold, wet year with a late spring and consequent lack of forage when the bees did venture out.

Dwarf French beans

Posted: 01/06/2013 at 09:42

BBQ skewers sound a bit dangerous - mind your eyes when you're bending over to pick beans!  In most gardens you can find twiggy supports from dead shrubs etc that will do the job. But even if you don't support them, they'll probably be fine.

instead of bedding

Posted: 30/05/2013 at 12:23

A few that come to mind: Lithodora, a lovely deep blue-flowered creeping plant. Coreopsis, glorious yello flowers, although they tend to die after a few years. Saxifrages, such as "London Pride". Dianthus. Hellebores. Aquilegia. Thift (good for thin, stony soil). Pulmonaria (good for damper, shadier places). Most of these will spread or self-seed so you only need a small bit to start you off - I agree with Nutcutlet above, look out for summer fetes etc with plant stall where you can pick these things up cheaply, or beg some bits from other people's gardens.

Where is the buzz of busy bees?

Posted: 29/05/2013 at 17:14

I think it's the weather. We do have bees in the garden but not as many as usual. Honeybees don't like to fly when it's too cold, or when it's windy. Bumble bees are less fussy (maybe their furry coats are warmer!)

We had heavy blossom on our apple trees but it won't surprise me if the crop yield is low, because of lack of pollination.

Brassica collars

Posted: 27/05/2013 at 09:05

I think Monty Don was using cardboard but it eventually goes soggy and disintegrates. Anything firm enough to hold its shape but not too hard to cut will do - vinyl offcuts, roofing felt, carpet, underlay, etc.

Ivy advice?

Posted: 27/05/2013 at 09:01

Haven't tried this, but I believe a blob of clear sealant (like you use for sealing bathroom units etc) will hold the shoot to the surface. But as others say, you'd only need to do this at first, to get the ivy to understand where you want it to go (rather than horizontally across your garden, etc, which it will also want to do).

Bee hive

Posted: 20/05/2013 at 17:48

I think that if you want to take up beekeeping, you'll need to find out a bit more about it. You don't just get a hive and wait for the bees to come - it needs to be actively managed. If left to themselves, a new colony won't survive long, mainly because of disease.Honeybees rely very much on human management for their survival. Beekeepers usually start out with a "nucleus" of bees plus a queen (although a swarm may function in much the same way) but you need to know how to inspect the frames, how to check for disease, how to identify the queen and how to know whether she's mated successfully , when and how to feed the bees,... and so much more. It's a very rewarding hobby (my husband is a beekeeper). so it's worth finding out a bit more and then deciding whether it's something you'd like to take on.

Purple Tomato leaves

Posted: 20/05/2013 at 16:55

I think it may be magnesium rather than potassium that they're lacking. But more likely it's just the cold - mine are the same, although the newest leaves look a bit greener (so far).

Herbs from seeds

Posted: 29/04/2013 at 13:14

If you pick out the tips of basil and space the plants out a bit, they'll fill out a bit more than the supermarket plants - in fact, when I buy supermarket basil, I transplant it into a pot twice the size and space the plats out - it can last for many weeks. But they ares still quite small plants and you can do with plenty of them if you like it a lot.

Coriander tends to stay a bit leggy, in my experience, but is probably better not too crowded. Parsely does best if it's really well spaced out - maybe 8 or 10 inches between plants.

Green pond

Posted: 27/04/2013 at 17:32

No point in restocking unless you can protect your new fish. A net or wires across the pond can help. Plants that give surface cover, such as lilies, provide cover for the fish and also help to reduce the algae by keeping sunlight off the water. Oxygenating plants are good for clearing the water, and/or you could get a littel solar-powered fountain. 

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