Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Buzzy Day

This morning we cycled to Dorset Lane Allotments where Clive keeps his bees. He very kindly made us a cup of tea and provided us with 4 queen cells to put in our colony that has now been without a monarch for 3 weeks. Some of the workers have started to lay so we have to hope the colony will accept one of these when they emerge in the next few days. Then another stroke of good fortune, Mark on One Tree Hill Allotments only half a mile walk away had a swarm that he couldn't rehouse. So this evening we walked home 10,000 bees (that's when you want someone to try mugging you) and rehived them in the empty box. It's a happy sight to see them all troop up the ramp into the hive. Here's a little video we made of our first ever swarm.

Tomorrow our bee glade should once more be loud. And they can get on with making honey while the sun shines.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Robin's eggs on the grass, alas
I wish I felt more positive about the odds of their survival. I was just on the point of starting to uproot some of the brambles and sloes that are taking over when I found these in the grass (it's a good thing we haven't thought about strimming). I heard a tiny thrum and caught a glimpse of mother leaving which made me bend down for a look. They have narrowly avoided being flattened under my clogs but how will mother fend off the neighbours' cats, the foxes, squirrels and magpies once the little babies start to 'peep peep peep'...

...o.k. it's not completely secure, but they might have a fighting chance now.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Thieving Magpie

Well, Easter has come and gone. And so too have the blackbird's eggs (sigh), again. Yesterday I was unhappy witness to the magpie winging away with the makings of a Turdus merula omelette in it's beak. The same thing happened last year. And then today it was clinging to the front of the tit box - flapping and pecking unsuccessfully at the entrance. It's a wonder we have any other birds in the garden. There are sound clips on the two links and if you compare and contrast I think you'll agree with me as to which one makes the better neighbour. The magpie's diet is made up of 'invertebrates, young birds and eggs, small mammals, fruits, seeds, berries and carrion.' So just about everything. In fact the medical term for a compulsive eating disorder (not necessarily of foodstuffs) - a pica - derives from Pica pica. They include slugs and snails on their menu though so they do have some merit for the gardener.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

HiHo! HiHo! ...

The allotment has just come alive again this week. The sun's been shining and the temperature is up around 18°. The broadbeans are in flower and I've got the first early 'Ulster Sceptre' and 'Roseval' salad potatoes in. I'll go back tomorrow and put in the other salad 'Charlotte' and maincrops 'Remarka' and 'Pink Fir Apple'. I've got hundreds of seedlings coming on in trays that I've been shuffling in and out of doors to catch the sun and it feels so good to finally be putting something in the ground. The half long guernsey parsnips that I started in modules (toilet rolls) are ready to get planted out now as I've just noticed the roots have found their way to the bottom. This may be quite a delicate business to get them in without damaging the tip. Otherwise I guess I'll have plenty of contestants for this year's ugliest vegetable competition.