Thursday, 16 October 2014

What Use Are Wasps?

Last Friday was a day of sunshine and showers here in Hampshire, fortunately while I was at the plot there was mostly sunshine.  I enjoyed being there with Pops, she was noisy at times because there where a number of navy and military helicopters flying overhead,  far more than usual.  However focusing on digging a bed ready to plant broad beans and sitting with Pops for lunch I  was happy.  I  harvested some vegetables, and cut the last of the sunflowers, then Pops and I started for home.

When I was walking through the allotments a man came up to me and asked were plot 141 was I showed him on the map and asked if he had been given that plot.  His reply was:

No I am a pest control officer from the council we have had a complaint, I have come to destroy a wasps nest."  

My mood plummeted  I felt  saddened, there is too much casual destruction of wildlife with a puff  or a splash of  chemicals. I asked him,
"Why?  All the wasps in the nest will be dead in couple of weeks when it gets colder."
his answer was

We had a complaint so we need to destroy them.   Anyway what use are wasps?  they are not like Bees!
I was stunned and tried tell him how useful wasps are..   He was not listening and two plot holder there agreed with him.  One echoed the question “What use are wasps?

I felt angry and worried for my girls, wasps, on my plot who have never caused myself or my neighbours any problem. when the Queen left the nest and the last brood of  new queens and drones flew away, I made the female workers a fruit pile semi buried in the soil.   Neighbours often give me windfalls from their fruit trees to give to the girls.( See post 1st August 2014 )
  
Willful and destruction of wildlife at the allotments is carried out not  just on wasps, some people poison rat and, though illegal, foxes. On other  plots caterpillars, and insects stand no chance.  These plot holders wage a chemical war on all creatures.  Often putting out double or triple the amount of poison  recommended by manufacturers.  

I have very few pests on my plot thanks to the wasps and lady birds, other predators and birds..  However, before I being rambling or rant back to the questions- What use are wasps?


Bees, wasps and ants are among the most important animals on the planet and are essential for the health and survival of countless other species - ourselves included."   BWARS' patron George McGavin 
The usefulness of wasps is something people often wonder about.  Wasps play an important role as early pollinators in the UK,’ However, wasps eat caterpillars and aphids. Gardeners should welcome them with open arms!  Matt Brierley, RSPB
We should celebrate wasps and all creatures if we wish to conserve our plant.  If we believe in the importance of conservation of the living World, we must recognize that all creatures matter.

I was  taught to love the natural world by my parents. When I learnt  Reiki one the Ideals was
Be grateful for all living creatures.
Later I explored Druidry and deepened my connection to nature. the wheel of the year and to our planet - Mother Earth.  I celebrate the World's diversity and care about conserving all living things.


   Chris Packham's answer to the question:"What are wasp for? "  is:
My reply is, "What are you for?" I'm a great fan of wasps. I have a nest of them in my stables and they're very happy; I'm very happy with them, too.
I am also a fan of wasps, I  feel privileged to have a nest on my plot.  I remember as a child we had a wasps nest in the roses that grew over the front of the house I did not get stung. Now Bee stings!  But that is a ramble for another time.



With Reiki Blessing 

MerryB

Pied Flycatcher's catch wasps
as do brave Dragon Flies





Thursday, 9 October 2014

Autumn meditation

This morning it was a misty, chilly dawn, I could hear the fog horn of ships coming and going to and from Portsmouth Harbour. The spiders webs were fringed with dew drops and I had to put on a jumper before I went outside.  Pops dog stayed in bed until the sun came out.

Now the sun has burnt  through the mist and it is a beautiful sunny day. The seedlings in the green house have needed to be misted over again as they dried out since early this morning.  It is a day to relish and enjoy being outdoors which is what we have been doing this afternoon. .I love to crunch through the fallen leaves and Pops plays and tumbles among them enjoying the scrunch of leaves beneath her feet..  The vintage trees in the park have leaves of  of green, yellow, orange and copper brown. The autumn display is beautiful, however  as I look at them I see how much we need rain the trees are so dry the leaves and branches hang listlessly.  Autumn's colours may  last longer this year, but that is not a good thing it brings the reality of climate change right to our doorsteps. In September, here in Hampshire, there has been only about an inch of rain altogether. The earth in my allotment and garden is dry and dusty. I love the sunny days but the trees need rain.




We are being eased into the Autumn by fine weather.   At first  there is equilibrium between day and night,   Eventually the dark evenings will edge into afternoon.the weather will become rainy, cold, windy The last of the Summer flowers will be caught by the frost and blacken and die.  The oaks, chestnuts, beech and silver birch will drop their last leaves. The seeds they dropped at the beginning of Autumn, will be covered in leaf litter, or wind. mice, squirrels or children will have  spread the seeds far away from the parent tree ready to germinate next Spring.  When the trees have prepared the fruit and leaf buds for the next year the sap will turn
inwards and they become dormant.   The bare outline of the trees will be will be seen stark against the  Autumn sky

Now and then I catch a myself feeling,a  hint a  regret, because this lovely  year's Summer and  the Indian Summer we have been enjoying is coming to an end.  As the wheel of the seasons circles round.  Each season is special brings has its own  purpose and delights.  Autumn and Winter are dreaded by many people.  The Dark nights are feared and associated with  ghost ghouls, and even danger.  But inside our homes we feel safe once the doors are closed and the windows shut and the curtains drawn.


My  Celtic ancestors saw the darkness differently:

 "as a place inside us where we touch and experience our spiritual roots and was known as the Mysteries." (Glennie Kindred) 
RSPB -  Christmas present 
I am blessed with a warm and cosy home, with those I love around me. I have books to read, I write and review my journals and practice Reiki and Mindfulness meditation. I love coming in after I have been outside on a cold wet day and relish the:


:... cup of tea in my two hands.
Mindfulness held perfectly 
My mind ad body dwells
In the very here and now
Thich  Nhat Hanh

I am outside a great deal in Winter as I garden, have an allotment and Pops dog to walk.  Many times I look outside and want to stay warm and cosy indoors.  . Autumn and Winter are important times in the garden preparing the earth for spring clearing and mulching beds for next years crops pruning  or planting spring bulbs.

Once I am out doors  I am at peace  and well being.. one of my joys is planting spring bulbs .  Each year  I buy more  bulbs for my allotment and garden and the wildlife area at the allotment.  I love choosing the bulbs and taking them home ready to plant.  When I go out to plant them I  place each one carefully and mindfully. My mind is filled  with  imagining the beautiful flowers that will greet us Spring.


Planting them can be shared as well with loved ones.  Children love doing being involved and the expression on their face when they see their bulbs flowering in Spring is wonderful.  These hardy early bulbs will come to flower through whatever the weather throws at them snow, gales relentless rain. They brighten the coldest wettest darkest grey day in late winter early spring



Mindful Meditation Planting Spring bulbs


 Takes a  Spring bulb and looks at it closely,
 the texture, The colour, is it firm or soft…
Imagine you can see the person who grew this bulb.
The person who packed it, the people who transported it to the supplier
The person who served you at the store or the delivery person
And be grateful to these people. 
And to the sun, rain and earth that nurtured it

Pause for a moment and examine your past year,
 What have you learnt, what was good, what things did not flourish?
What is a project or dream you want to achieve by next Spring?

 Place the bulb in the pot or into the earth 
And cover it with soil  
 See the bulb growing under ground sending down strong roots
To nourish it and anchor it firmly
To begin the work of growing
To allow the leaves and buds to push though the earth
to emerge safely into the light

Imagine yourself also putting down essential roots 
to grow your project  into a reality next spring

(This can be done as a group meditation where each person in the circle reflects on the past year and  tell the others of a project or dream they want to achieve by next Spring)






With Reiki's light and blessing to you all

Merry B














It




Sunday, 28 September 2014

September's Bounty

I love the month of September when all the intensity of the sun mellows and the activity of sowing and growing crops, and watering, become less hectic and there is time to reflect and enjoy the time spent at the plot harvesting apples, squashes, the last of the beans and tomatoes.  

My golden hop has flowered for the first time.  To begin with I thought it was a male plant but then the flowers grew and the back, sides and roof of my shed became smothered in golden flowers which I will harvest for garlands for the Winter Solstices and Christmas.  Soon it will have to be cut down, I will heap manure on the root to feed  it for its new growth in spring.

For now I just enjoy sitting with Pops dog and enjoying its abundance and beauty against the blue of the shed and sky on lovely September evenings.


Early in September Pops and I went for a wander to a lovely Park full of mature trees some of which must now be a hundred years or more old, there is an yew with branches reaching to the ground and rooted into the soil to renew itself, There are Horse Chestnut trees that drop chestnuts for the children to collect and to play the games of conkers .  In the early evening there are children chattering and whooping as they find them in the grass under the trees, even adults pick them up partly, I suspect, from nostalgia for childhood games of conker, but this is rationalized  as being to deterring spiders from coming indoors.  I also love to collect conkers, some to put into my winter bowls of potpourri, but also because of the sheer beauty of the gleaming brown fruits. Also to remind me of happy memories of collecting conkers as a child..

While walking Pops to the park we turned to the East and there before us was the Harvest full moon, which this year was a a Super Moon.  It was hanging low in the sky as it orbits the earth. The Moon glowed golden in a blue sky and as the sunset it became flushed with pink.  As usual my camera was in my rucksack at home so I did not get a picture of it. However, here is a picture of the Super moon  over Blackheath by Mike Meynell. What a beautiful  picture. 




The Equinox on the twenty third of September marked the end of Summer and the beginning of Autumn and the drawing in of the days and the dark nights leading up to the Winter Solstice on the twenty first of December when the light begins to return. . Already I can feel an urgency growing in me to get jobs down at the allotment and in the garden  before the bad weather  comes and  much shorter days set in.  

On Monday it is the feast of Michaelmas  a Christian feast to celebrate Michael the Archangel and all the other Archangels.  It is traditional seen as the day that God ordered Michael to throw Lucifer out of heaven.  It is said that the devil fell into the middle of a blackberry thicket and his angry fiery breathe set them on fire. Lucifer surround by a ring of fire stamped on the blackberries and spat on them to quench the fire, or as the Celts say pissed on them to put out the fire..  That is why we shouldn't eat blackberries after that date. People say we do not eat them in October  because the sun is not strong enough to ripen them and misty, dampness of autumn turns them mouldy.  Some of us know the real reason!


Michaelmas is associate with eating certain foods just as there is a Traditional Christmas foods, At one time Michaelmas was a great feast day and the traditional meal was goose, with potatoes and carrots, and Blackberry pie or dumplings.  I will not be eating goose as I am a vegetarian. I have from my plot have some Picasso Potatoes and lovely rainbow carrots which I sowed at the end of July and are ready for harvesting now.  I will will also cook some blackberries and  James Grieve cooking apples and make some dumplings, These were also  harvested  from my allotment.


 In the last week Michaelmas daisies are beginning to flower on my plot and in my garden. They are actually an Aster first introduced into this country from America in 1633 by John Tradescant the  Younger a 17th Century plant hunter and gardener.  The plants became known as Michaelmas daisies because they bloom in late September at the time of the feast of Michaelmas.  I love their with vibrant colors which flower just as other flowers are fading. For a long while they seemed to go out of fashion, perhaps because they suffered badly from mildew but new breeding techniques seems to have overcome that problem.


Anyway I could write more but it is time for Pops walk so I will stop and take her out.  Look out for the full moon on the 8th of October it will be a blood moon. Those of you living in North America will get the best view of it  but you will have to get up early to see it.


With Reiki blessing to every one,
Merryb






Thursday, 14 August 2014

A Willow Fairy for Michael's mum


Yesterday morning there was a lovely dawn,the waning moon was slowly sinking on the horizon as the sun began to rise. The day turned out to a be happy day working  in harmony with a group of people who all love nature and care about wildlife.

 I went to my plot  and had planned out what I would do there.  Weeding and watering were a priority but like all best laid plans I actually got very little done except the watering.

My lack of progress on the plot was all because of a causal  comment to Jenny on the Community Plot, Growing under a Hazel hedge on their plot was a pine tree which had seeded itself and grown to about three foot tall.

 I said

"Why don't you put that pine on the wild life area",


"Great idea we could do that." Jenny said.


I looked round and i was the only person there I guessed I was part of the we. 


"Michael could help". I said 


"Good idea", she said

She pottered off and return with Michael who was eager to help

So began the battle to get the pine sapling out from within the hazel hedge,.  Michae, a giant of man plunged a long fork deep into the ground and levered it up all round the pine tree,  
Michael worked the fork, while  I, having fought may way into the hazel hedge held it back  so that he could see where to work  After a lot of effort we realized it had grown through the membrane and this need to be cut before we could get the tree out.  We also carefully scrabbled with our hands to get the tap roots out unbroken. Eventually  it was free and  we discovered there was not one tree but three small trees..

While the larger tree was soaking in my water butt we went to the wild life area and Michael dug a huge hole to accommodate the rootball, Chris got the compost and some manure from my plot and the tree was planted, watered and staked.

The lovely thing about was this is that Michael's Mother is in hospital and he had been very upset and worried. He cannot speak very well so it is difficult for him to express his feelings The week before  he came to the allotment on  the Wednesday but had not done anything  he just sat down, because  he was so worried and sad about his mum illness.  But yesterday digging out a Christmas tree appealed to him He want to help get the tree planted on the wild life area, which he loves working on.  


While he worked he told us he want to show the Christmas tree to his mum when she was out of hospital. The tree has now been named Michael's Mum's Christmas tree. Michael wants to put a fairy on the top at Christmas time. Jenny has already penciled in a Christmas Party for the groups and  I will help Michael make a fairy out of my willow twigs

.
Yesterday Michael left for home smiling and felt hopeful that his mum would come home from hospital soon,

It was well worth spending the morning helping to move the beautiful young pine (pinus nigra) tree.  It looks good on the wild life area, it has wonderful fragrance and will be a good habitat for birds and other critters there.  Best of  all planting it help Michael feel better.

Just as we were clearing up on the wild life area the Hampshire Gardens lorry came in with wood chippings for the plot holders and logs for us. Beautiful piece of cordyline palm and holly which Jenny and I built into a new stumpery as a habitat for lizard, newts,beetles and ....

Eventually I got back to my plot and watered it, Had Lunch and then there was a cloud burst  of torrential  rain!  Poppy and I went home and got very, very wet getting there.

The community plot works with adults with learning difficulties, schools young carers, older carers and other groups.






With Reiki Blessings to you all

MerryB

Friday, 1 August 2014

Close encounters on the wildside



Six-spotted Burnet
 Butterfly Conservation
I love the fact that my allotment is filled with wildlife, I love the encounter I have while I am working or relaxing on my allotment. I saw  a Six-spot Burnet moth on  trefoil flowers in my wild flower patch. The hot weather has brought many many different moths and butterflies onto my plot/ I take great delight in seeing the flutter in out of my plants.  I welcome the  hungry caterpillars as well, despite the holes that appear in some of my plants.

 
Recently I have been spending time taking part in the Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count*,  Which focuses my attention on the detail of each each individual butterfly or moth so I can record my sightings.

However I am still working on my beds and last week needed compost for the bed I want to grow  my leeks over winter.  I started to lift one of my compost bins only to be find, before I had moved it more than a few inches, I was surrounded by swarm of bumble bees.  I managed to drop  the bin back over the nest immediately and  I stepped back and stood still.  The worker flew around me and buzzed me some touching my face but did not sting me, when they were calmer I  moved away slowly  from that part of the plot. I hoped the queen would not decide to leave the nest but as the workers are still there I feel the disturbance disrupted them only briefly  Before my attempt to move the bin  I had not seen them coming or going, although I had seen numerous bumble bees on the comfrey which is growing along side that bin.  

A few days later I lifted another bin and there were no mice, rats, only centipedes  and millipedes I like to see these arthropods in my healthy compost, and I am a little in awe of  centipedes as I remember seeing them in  fossils, which my father told me where over 400 million years old.. In the bin there were  large slugs with orange undersides and red wriggler worms in abundance, I always wonder where they emerge from.  All these insects I transferred   into my large compost bin which I had already emptied. They will help to start the composting process once more,..  
.
As I began to fork gently  into the compost heap I discovered  slow worms.   I stopped loading my wheelbarrow and left half the compost.   Most of  the slow worms slid away under my water butt but I still left  it alone so as  not to create any more disturbance for them..

There was another bin of compost that was ready to put on a bed I was making for  florence fennel and for the globe artichokes plants  which were ready to go out.  This bin had a bottom opening, so I flipped  it  to warn any  creatures living there that they were going to be disturbed.  In seconds I found myself  petrified with fright as worker wasps streamed out of the bin and surrounded me. 

 Again I stepped backwards away from the bin and stayed still. Several wasps landed on my hands, several hovered inches away from my face buzzing very loudly.  At i first thought how malevolently they were looking at me but when I stopped the story I was creating from my mind's fear and just looked I saw wasps had amazingly, complex and beautiful eyes and wonderful markings on their bodies

My instinct was to run but I calmed my self with Reiki and stood still for what seemed an age until  gradually the wasps moved back into  the bin.  The ones on my hands flew away without stinging me,   Definitely it was time for a cup of tea  and a cuddle from Pops dog.

I had no intention of destroying the wasps, but was uneasy about having a nest on my plot.  When I thought about them I realized that I knew very little about their life cycle, except that they were predictors of aphids,caterpillars scavengers and also were excellent pollinators..  Most of what else I knew came from scary negative articles  and tall stories  about their aggression in late Summer and Autumn. There was also childhood memories of picnics in late summer with wasps wanting to eat and drink anything sweet and my mother putting a plate of food away from the table  to keep them away from us.

When I got home I decided to find out more about them.  The first sites I visited were all about destroying the nest there were shots of the amazing complex nests and other shots of the nest in segments showing the complex patterns inside the nest.  I could not believe that in a black compost bin such an awe inspiring nest could be in it.

Although I did not see any wasps entering the compost bin before I disturbed it I had seen small  hover-flies going in the bottom of the bin. I believe these could be Vocucella zoaria The hornet hover-fly which lays its eggs in a wasp or hornets nest .  The urban pollinators blog  suggest that the females may come and go in the wasp nest because the female gives off a calming  pheromone.  Normally any intruder would be attacked if it tried to enter the nest.

At that moment in time the hive was active and its function was to provide for the larva and the future of the female worker wasps, the workers forage insects which they chew up and fed to the larva along with nectar.  Then they drink the 'urine' from the larva to keep the nest clean.  The 'urine' is sweet and gives the wasps energy to go off foraging again and again. The workers also feed and protect the solitary Queen.   By July the Queen may have laid 2000 or more eggs. In late July and August the queen begins to lay male eggs and new queens' eggs. After this she leaves the nest and eventually dies in late autumn

The worker  continue feeding the male and queen larva until they too leave the nest. That is when the trouble starts, the worker bees have become addicted to the sugar. A fix that they got from the larva and search for new sources of sugar.  This is the time we usually encounter them.  I had no idea that I had a wasps nest on my plot until I disturbed them yet with the nest there may be 2000 or more wasps in it. 

Once the solitary queen leaves the nest and the last of the males and queens emerge and fly away the social structure of the nest breaks down.  Not only have the workers lost their role they are also addicted to sugar and carbohydrates.  So they go out looking for a sugar fix, they can become quite desperate and will fly around us as we eat outside looking not to attack us but for the sugar fix. Some of them will find it from fermenting fruit and then zig-zag drunkenly towards us.

My mother once she realized there were wasps around always place some sweet food, or a plate with a shallow solution of honey or jam  for the wasps away from were we were sitting having a picnic and this seemed to work. She also used tea-tree, lavender, or citronella candles or oils as a deterrent.  She had baking soda or aloe vera gel to hand in case of any of us should be stung.  I cannot remember any one in our families ever being stung by a wasps but lots of bee stings.  Once while I was a child a swarm of bees being moved by a bee-keeper escaped and landed on my face scary!..

 If we flap our arms and hands to shoo  away a wasp it may  feel threatened  and respond  by sending out a pheromone which lets other wasps from the nest know it is being attacked, Wasps are social animals and will respond to defend one of its group.  If we swat them and kill them the brain of the wasp will still  send out the same pheromone and more wasps will appear..  The Jam jar method of killing wasps will also attract more wasp in defense of the dying members of nest.

The female worker wasps are are only troublesome for a short while, because unlike honey bees, only the queens survive the winter all the workers and males die once the weather becomes colder. The queens will hibernate and in April will find a suitable place to build a new nest and begin the cycle all over again.  Having  wasps nest on my plot has benefited it.  The wasps have been helping to pollinate my flowers, herbs and crops, eating  predators and scavenging detritus.

My plot is a haven for wild life which are providing me with  healthy soil to grow our cut flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables.  This week I found a pair of  violet beetles living by day in the wood pile. I am not sure if it is these beetle are the ones  I have seen flying past as I enter my plot early in the morning or if it is another type of ground beetle. The Tansy flowers are now a haven for red cardinal beetles and ladybirds. 




 Oh and there is the handsome fox club that visits my plot and which I see when I arrive at the plot in the early morning and the grass hoppers and err yes frogs...  newts ...... all  tales for another day.

I am grateful to all the creatures that live on or near my plot that keep it healthy and productive




With gratitude for the wild life and bugs on my plot.


Reiki blessings to you 
MaryB
Websites
www.butterfly-conservation.org

http://www.buglife.org.uk/





Thursday, 10 July 2014

Midsummer Reflections



When the year get to Midsummer I find myself in a reflective  mood, the Summer Solstice brings the  the longest day and this  marks the begin of the slow lengthening of the night and shortening of the day until the Winter Solstice,when the cycle of year begins again and the light slowly returns.


I love the light evening and often Pops and I go for late walks just wandering quietly, unless a fox or a cat crosses our path when Pops will lunge forward ready for a chase in which case I hang onto her lead and we fly along until the quarry has disappeared.  then she goes into sniffer dog mode. As we walked  last night we saw the moon rise in the East, It is nearly full, as I look at it I imagine the  Moon Goddess Cerridwen sending down silver rays of love and blessings from  sky above. In the West  the clouds were straggling across the blue sky colored pink by the setting sun.

As we walk in the evening the air is full of the perfume of summer jasmine, honey suckle, plants that attract moths to pollinate them, and we can see ethereal shapes flitting across our paths as moths are drawn fragrance of the plants.  In my own garden the fragrance from night scented stocks evening primrose, honeysuckle  buddleia and myrtle on warm night make it a delightful place to sit in the dark and watch the moths  and reflect on 2014 and  write my journal.

In the  early morning  the air in my garden full of fragrance  from the shrubs and plants which draw into the garden bees butterflies, moths, hover flies and numerous insects to feed on the nectar or collect pollen   The myrtle plant has just started flowering and will soon be filled with the buzzing of bees, some of which get quite dizzy on its heady nectar..The white Buddleia Davidii  has tall arching branches and clusters of white flowers with yellow eyes. Its fragrance attracts ladybirds, lacewings and on a warm day and evening is full of interest and scent, it towers nearly twelve foot high and through it can be seen the summer jasmine full of flowers and the insects flit from one shrub  to the next and onto the honeysuckle where bumble bees dive into the center of the flower and their "pollen  buzz" vibrates the pollen loose and showers them with gold which they brush into their pollen sacks, sometimes they bite into the base of the flowers to drink the nectar and then zig zag off to another plant.

On my plot  the red clover is now finished flowering so are the poppies, borage, logan berry cransbils, but the cosmos flowers are nearly ready to open as are many others, the blackberry hedge is full of flowers, as is the dog rose hedge and the wild flower among the fruit bushes, but the rich easy food sources of late, spring and early summer have finished for the moment and insects have to fly further to find pollen and nectar.  But   soon there will be a flush of bee and  insect friendly flowers opening.

The herbs are  beginning to flower, the buddliea-mint,the thyme in the fragrant lawn are full of  flower buds, white, blue red magenta, the marjoram are sending up spikes of flowers, the hyssop, nasturtiums are flowering, and the tansy is sending up flower spikes which are loved by hover flies, lady birds but not the bees.

Somewhere  on my desk must be the my to do lists for my plot but they do not seems to be so important now, the last vegetables of the summer season are ready to be planted and carrot seeds, beetroot seeds have been sown, The cold frame is filled wallflower, foxgloves, sweet williams, poppies, cornflowers all growing to be ready for planting in spring, in September more herbs and flowers will be sown  to be planted out in 2015

For now, mowing the grass, watering and weeding are the main tasks of summer and of course harvesting the crops as they become ready. It is a time for friends to visit and share a picnic and while away a sunny evening. talking, reflecting and feeling gratitude for the all the living things that make our gardens and plots so fascinatingly interesting, bountiful  and beautiful


With Reiki golden light  and gratitude For Mother Earth
and

May the long time sun
Shine upon you
All love surround you
And the pure light
within you
Guide your way home.

Rumi

MerryB






















Friday, 23 May 2014

No Rhubarb Crumble!

rhubarb flower by incredible edilble
Sadly I have report the demise of my rhubarbs at the beginning of May. They threw up lots of  flowering spikes which I cut off and gave the plants  a mulch of well rotted compost and manure but to no avail they were dying. When I started to dig them up the roots had gone to mush and there was no hope of  their recovery.The crowns have served us well over several year.  The original two plants  were divided into four and had flourished for three or four years This year  there will be no rhubarb crumble made from our own plant on the plot.  This is sad because one of the joys of  May, for me, is to pick  and cook fresh rhubarb.

However the good weather over the past few weeks, has helped me to get on with my "to do  list" for my plot. There is a new urgency now to prepare beds as the french beans, sweetcorn and squashes have all germinated in my greenhouse and will need planting at the beginning of June. I have plants ready to go into my cut flower bed and I need to sow leeks for transplanting in their final position in August and still  the "to do list" goes on and on and on.....

I  made a start by digging a bed which had been flooded for several weeks in late winter.  It has a lot of weeds growing in it, a wonderful crop of plantain, grasses and other weeds.  I say digging but actually I have been using a garden fork which is gentler on the ecology of the soil and all the creatures living in it, which enhance the quality of the earth and benefit the plants.

I am going to empty the large wooden compost bin which has been cooking grass and tough plant stems for three years.  Hopefully there will be some good compost to layer onto bed 2 where I am going to plant the squashes and courgettes.  I will sieve the compost before I put in on the bed and add some well rotted manure into the mix then add more compost for the young plants to be planted in.  I am toying with the idea of getting a straw bale and putting that down first to make a real hot bed.   But as for now I am digging the to remove the weeds.  Luckily it was dug over at the end of December last year so the grass and weeds are not  rooted in too deep.


Slow worm
The only problem about emptying the large bin is disturbing all the creatures that have made it their home.  For many years I have had bumble bee nests on the plot, sometimes in the one of the  compost bins, I think my plot being flooded this year meant the queens steered clear of my plot. I have lizards and slow worms on my plot if they are there in the bin. I will leave the compost until September and go to plan B whatever that is! Slow worms are so vulnerable to us humans at the allotment strimmers cause harm to them, lizards and hedgehogs..  I  found a slow worm on one of the allotment paths it looked as if a car had run over it but it was still alive.  I picked it up with a handkerchief and moved out of the way.  It shed its tail which fortunately was were it was injured.  Many people do not realize that if you pick up a slow worm with bare hands the warmth of our hands can burn them as they are a cold blooded creature.


mmm maybe I will build
 a chamomile bench next.

photo  Morehaven nursery
My fragrant lawn is developing I have another tray of chamomile Treneague growing which I will take to the plot this weekend if it eventually stops raining.  I have put in some chamomile lawn plants in already and they are growing well. By July the plants, I hope, will have merged together to make a fragrant space out side my shed.  In the middle of which Pops dog has decided that the red clover plants will make a wonder bed for her under the shade of the apple tree.  Oh sigh, I have another half tray of penny royal mint plants to add to.the lawn they will grow under the apple tree as the prefer a shady position   Maybe Pops will like them as an alternative bed! 

It has been awful few days as far as the weather goes here in Hampshire, gloomy grey skies, blustery, chilly winds and heavy rain but hey the sun is breaking through now.   I going to take Pops dog for a long  walk through the park and maybe down to the beach. So I will wish everyone sunny days and good gardening.

  
With Reiki blessing to you

MerryB