Tag Archive | Wildflowers

Mouldy Banana’s And Beneficial Insects

To begin with, I thought I’d show you my first broad beans of the season.  These are an over-wintering variety that I sowed in pots at the beginning of November.  As the weather was dreadful, I didn’t plant them out until February and to be honest I nearly put them in the compost bin as they were so ‘leggy’ by then.  However, I had room in my polytunnel so I put them in there, tying each one to a cane to try and stand them up.  I didn’t think they would come to anything and I have been proved wrong, so I am very pleased.

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The above broad beans went straight down to my father-in-law, as he absolutely loves them.  He has been very poorly recently and has only just come out of hospital again, so this put a smile on his face.

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My strawberries are finally growing well, even though they are slightly later than usual, due to the cold spring we have had.  I always lay straw around my strawberries, as this stops the strawberries from rotting when they lay on wet ground and it also helps to stop annual weeds from germinating around them.

Another job I do is to put a net over them, or the greedy birds will eat all of them.

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A long time ago, I was told I wasted space at my allotment by growing too many flowers. Yes I agree, if I didn’t grow so many flowers I would have more space for vegetable plants. However, I strongly believe I would also have fewer vegetables to harvest, as there would be less insects around to pollinate my crops.

You only needed to stand and watch my wild flower patch last year, to see the buzz of activity there. It was absolutely amazing to watch and took my breath away every time I stopped and stared.

As an organic gardener, I try really hard to encourage beneficial insects into my plot , as they keep the ‘bad bugs’ at bay. As an example, if you watch blackflies, within a few days you will see the ladybirds having a feast on them. I don’t use pesticides as these will not only kill the ‘bad’ insects, but it will also kill the ‘good’ ones too.

I try to let nature do the work for me.

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I try really hard to attract bees onto my plot from early spring until late autumn, by planting a continuous range of flowers. As an example, I stood amongst my poached egg plants for less than ten seconds a couple of days ago and managed to easily take photos of four separate bees:

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 After the success of last years wildflower patch, I decided to have another go.  Last month I sowed the seeds and they have started to come up now, together with seeds that self sowed themself from last year.

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The plants that are growing from last years seeds are far more advanced than the seeds I sowed last month and I have even got a flower on one of them:

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 If this years display is half as good as last years, I will be happy.  Below are a few photo’s of last years patch:

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Two Mouldy Banana’s:

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I hate waste.  However, there is always something that you find lurking at the back of the fridge or the bottom of the fruit bowl that you have to think hard about how you can use it.  So what on earth could you do with two mouldy, black bananas’ that only look fit for the compost bin?….

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…..I made a lovely banana cake:

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Banana cake

2 very ripe bananas’s mashed

170g caster sugar

170g self-rising flour

170g soft margarine

3 eggs

Half a teaspoon of vanilla essence

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Plus extra margarine and flour for lining the tin

A little icing sugar for dusting.

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Preheat your oven to gas 3 / 325F / 170C

Line a medium loaf tin by greasing the tin with margarine and dusting with flour

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Put all the ingredients into a bowl

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Mix until they are all combined and pour into your loaf tin.

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Bake for approximately 1 hour. 

(Test the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer into the cake and if it comes out clean then it is cooked).

Dust with icing sugar when cool.

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Enjoy!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at approximately 4pm.

 

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My Wildflower Patch – Four Months Of Flowers

My wildflower patch has finally given up flowering.  For four months solid, it flowered beautifully, for the price of a few packets of seed.  I am so very proud of it, especially as it’s my first attempt at growing wildflowers.

As it’s cold and miserable outside, I thought it would be nice to show you a slide show of the four months of my wild flowers, so we can dream of summer again.  They flowered from the middle of June until the middle of October, which is four months!  I certainly got my money’s worth out of those seeds.  I find this incredible and the whole time they were full of beneficial insects.

I planted my wildflower patch after I was inspired by Sarah Raven’s television program called  ‘Bees, butterflies and Blooms’.

Sarah Raven explained how 98% of Britain’s wildflower meadows and grass lands have been lost and how the world’s bees and other pollinating insects are in crisis and without these pollinators our future food security is under threat.   Her mission was to encourage farmers and village communities to help recreate a network of habitats for struggling bees, butterflies and pollinating insects.

I was blown away by the beauty of the wildflowers that she showed on her program and I wasn’t the only one to feel this way either.  In fact, the designers of the 10 football fields-worth of wildflowers, at this years Olympics, were influenced by Sarah Raven’s TV program.  Also, wildflowers sales have apparently tripled this year.

You can read how I grew them from seed here and here.

After seeing my wildflower patch and learning how easy it is to maintain the flowers (I virtually did nothing to them after I had sowed the seeds), I can’t understand why councils don’t use wildflowers more.  Councils tend to plant row after row of expensive carpet bedding, in the middle of roundabouts and parks, but if they sowed wildflowers instead, surely this would reduce maintenence costs for them and they would still look stunning, if not better.  There is also the advantage of the wildlife they attract due to the flowers.  I can’t remember a day that my small patch wasn’t full of bees, butterflies and insects of all kinds….this just doesn’t happen with row after row of carpet bedding plants, that have been bred to have double flowers for beauty, but no pollen for insects.

Next year, if you see an area of carpet bedding, please stop and watch to see if there is any insect activity and I’m sure you will be surprised, as I was when it was first pointed out to me.

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I hope you enjoy the slideshow.

Click once on the top left picture and it will start a slide show for you.

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I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

“Stop And Smell The Roses”

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Recently, someone at my allotment site died, due to cancer.  I walked past his plot today and it made me think of him.

Stop and smell the roses

This is a phrase that we are all familiar with.  It simply means that we should take time to appreciate something we have, or to pay attention to the good things that happen right under our noses.

If we are all honest, how often can we say, that we do actually ‘sit back and smell the roses’ ourselves.  I would put money on it, that it’s not that often.

Life is so so busy now for everyone.  Time goes so quickly and we are all trying to get ‘this and that’ finished, before we go on to the next ‘this and that’.

Today I did sit back and smell the roses:

Remember my wild flowers?  You can read about my wild flower patch here.

My wildflower patch today

They are still flowering beautifully and there are so many insects still flying around.  So much activity is going on, it takes my breath away to just stand still and watch it.

I feel very privileged to be able to just ‘stop and stare’, especially on such a beautiful sunny morning.

We chose for me to give up work, when our first daughter was born.  This was very scary at the time, as money was a big issue.  But looking back, I am very proud of how we managed.  We have two beautiful daughters and a nice home.  It doesn’t have posh furniture or the latest gadgets, but it is a ‘home’, where we have shared so many happy memories together.

What we didn’t realise when I gave up working and our so called ‘luxuries’, was how much happiness it would bring.

In fact, looking back at our old life, ‘keeping up with the Jones’ gave us a ‘carousel’ life, that just went round and round:

‘We worked hard to pay for new gadgets and expensive holidays and worked more hours to pay for the gadgets and expensive holidays, we brought more things, worked more hours, became more in debt, so we worked more hours and took a bank loan to pay off the credit cards and then had another expensive holiday, bought more gadgets etc. etc.’

  All the time we thought the holidays and new gadgets etc would make us happy, but if they made us so happy, then why did we keep on spending money on more and more things?  The carousel would never have stopped if we hadn’t made that life changing decision, for me to give up my job and we would never have known about the surprising benefits.

Do I have any regrets?…  NO.  If we had the chance to go back in time, with the same circumstances and the same money coming in, we would live exactly the same.

When I reach those pearly gates, my only regret is that I didn’t meet my husband earlier and lived this life with him sooner.

My blog was a little bit different today.   I hope you still enjoyed reading it.

Bees, Butterflies and Blooms and an Unexpected Bonus

My wildflower patch is still flowering beautifully and I am so proud of it, as it’s my first attempt at growing wildflowers.

I planted my wildflower patch after I was inspired by Sarah Raven’s television program called  ‘Bees, butterflies and Blooms’.

You can read how I grew it from seed here (underneath todays post on August 15th)

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Every time I look at it, I see new flowers.

When I take the time to stand and stare, my breath is taken away by the incredible amount of activity that is going on.  There are so many different types of insects, bees and butterflies, enjoying the flowers.

I sense that this must be how mother nature intended our gardens to be.  It’s such a shame, as with all the chemicals that have been used since wartime, we have been reducing the population of these insects.

I feel very strongly that we must now help these insects to survive.

Early this morning, I felt the distinct feeling that summer is nearly over and autumn is approaching fast.

This always make me feel a little bit sad.

As a gardener, I think you sense the changes in the seasons before others do.

I found something on ‘You Tube’ today that I thought I’d share with you.

If you read my blog regularly, you will know I have an insatiable love of flowers and the beneficial insects they attract.  This video shows some wonderful flowers and insects, whilst reminding us that Summer is nearly over.

It’s called Summers Last Gasp:

The ghost in the garden feels the season march by.
Butterflies and bees poke blooms in the eye.
Shivering leaves change color and die.
Big dipper drips dew from a clear night sky.
Warm sun cools, summer could cry…
Goodbye.

The link to it is here

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I have a large black barrel at my allotment, that Eric (the previous allotment plot holder), used to grow watercress in.

You can see it in the picture below, next to where my wildflowers are now planted.

  Eric always said watercress grew well there, as the tub was big enough to keep the soil damp.

Eric taught me so much about growing vegetables.

In the spring, I stripped the top couple of inches of soil and replaced it with some compost and grew a good crop of watercress.  In the middle of July it had gone to seed, so I pulled it all up and never gave it another thought until this morning, when I found it had self-seeded and given me a second crop. So this really is a bonus I wasn’t expecting.

Thank you for reading my blog today.