Monday, 6 May 2013

Buzzy Bank Holiday

It's been a great weekend here in Warwickshire.

We managed to spend lots of time at the allotment sowing roots, spinach and chard and planting out the first of the peas as well as tackling the giant heap of soil-in-waiting that is Compost Mountain. This pile has been accumulating since we took on the plot over 5 years ago and now has come the time to use it to top up our beds and enrich our sandy soil. So Saturday saw him shovelling and me sieving and 7 or 8 barrows later we have tackled just about a third of the heap and both feel about twice our age :)

On the growing front, at last things are beginning to thrive - rhubarb, salad leaves and a multitude of herbs are all putting on enough growth to actually be able to harvest at last.

Lemon balm - great for teas and just sniffing!
Thyme - well you just have to..
Still it meant we'd earned our Sunday off. Ryton Gardens at Garden Organic came up trumps again - lots of interesting talks and beautiful gardens to stroll through.  We all know how vital bees and other pollinators are to our planet and to our food supply so it seems a nonsense that we don't do everything we can to help them through what seems to be a very rough patch for them. There are loads of resources out there explaining what can and should be done and the first talk we attended was by the wonderful, passionate bee campaigner Brigit Strawbridge explaining about the hundreds of varieties of bees that we share this country with and what we can do to try to reduce the impact of habitat decline (simple - plant flowers, lots of flowers of many shapes but that have single blooms and flourish throughout the year oh, and if in doubt, opt for the colour blue) and neonicotonoid pesticide use (simple- please don't use them, there are so many studies out there outlining their impact that even if our Government can't see the light we should be taking a stand).

Blue flowers, untidy corners and water all make for a wildlife friendly garden
The second talk we attended was from the folks of The Natural BeekeepingTrust about their philosophies around Bee Guardianship and their beautiful and intriguing Sunhive. Now some of the Trust's philosophies may be more about feelings and less about science and therefore not for everyone but this hive is designed around the natural shape of a honey-bees comb rather than the traditional square and is part of a whole concept of beekeeping that tries to reduce the amount of intervention in the process as well as severely restricting the amount of honey taken from the hives. After all honey is bee food and if one of the problems for bees is that they are starving over winter then it makes sense not to raid their larder too often for our benefit, doesn't it?  Oh and this isn't the only group of folk looking to change some of the practices around beekeeping - Phil Chandler at The Barefoot Beekeeper is another one worth looking at if you are thinking about taking on your own hives but aren't sure if it's for you.

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