22 Apr 2010

Borage for The Bees

What fabulous weather we have had over the last couple of weeks! I have been making the most of it, where time permits by sowing plenty of seeds. I think I will sow some borage seeds over the weekend. The soil should be warm enough now for the seeds to germinate. April to May is the best time to sow borage seeds. I prefer to wait for a prolonged period of sunny weather to give the seeds the best chance to germinate. So now is the ideal time. It's important to keep the soil moist though, so if sowing during a dry spell, they will need to be watered until they become established. Borage is best grown in full sun or partial shade.

Borage is great for attracting bees. I think it is important to provide for the bees as their numbers are declining rapidly. This could be due to many factors including pesticides and herbicides used in agriculture, GM crops, mites, disease and terminal seeds (infertile seeds which farmers cannot replant).

Imagine a life without bees - we would have to pollinate everything by hand! Wild flowers would disapear rapidly. Other pollinators such as butterflies are also declining in numbers. When you think that these wonderful creatures do all the work of pollinating our flowers so that we can have food, I think that the least we can do is to try to provide for them. So if you have some space in your garden, allotment or land, why not sow some borage and/or wild flower seeds for the bees and other pollinating insects before it's too late? If growing wild flower seeds it is wise to check that they are native to your local area as some seed packets contain non-native flowers that can compete with local flowers which can affect wildlife and the environment.

If you prefer to grow flowers to eat rather than wild flowers, there are many edible flowers to choose from. I have a book called 'The Edible Flower Garden' by Kathy Brown (ISBN 1 - 85967-879-3) which lists the many different types of edible flowers, how to grow them and it also has many recipes. It's a great book with plenty of photos. I definitely recommend it for anyone interested in edible flowers.

Borage is my favourite edible flower. It is also known as 'starflower'. It is a beautiful blue colour and it makes a wonderful addition to salads. They have a mild flavour similar to cucumber. As far as I know they are the only natural blue food. Last year I had many edible flowers such as calendula, rocket, thyme, oregano, nasturtiums. These all make wonderful additions to salads. This year I will be growing as many edible flowers as possible. I will be posting pictures of my colourful salads in the summer! The rocket that I sowed late last year has just started to flower. Rocket flowers have a mild peppery flavour. Some people dislike the leaves of the rocket when it has gone to flower, but I prefer it - they are slightly hotter than normal. Chives are also a wonderful flower to eat. The flower head can be sprinkled over salads. They are deep pink in colour and even taste like chives.

Going back to the subject of bees, I saw a bee that appeared to be dying the other day. Whilst some people may think that they should put a dying bee out of its misery and kill it, I think it is best to leave it. It is probably suffering from exhaustion and may recover if left alone. Alternatively you can place a flower near it so it can have some nectar or give it some sugared water or syrup, which will help it to recover. We need to do all we can to save our bees.


6 Apr 2010

Bloomin' Marvellous!

Hooray...there's blossom on the trees! Bloomin' marvellous! A sure sign of spring! Well, we have certainly had more than our fair share of rain around here lately. This has meant that I am somewhat behind with my allotment. The few dry days we have had, I have been too busy with other things. I am hoping for a spell of dry sunny weather so I can get on with things. Now that the evenings are lighter, I may be able to go more often.

I have no photos of my plot this week because I went to the beach and the park before I went to the allotment and took many photos - by the time I got to the allotment the batteries had died.

My batteries weren't the only thing to die - my last artichoke looks like it has finally had its day. My allotment neighbour Keith said it probably died of loneliness due to the absence of its owner! I'm hoping that it will make a miraculous recovery. I'll be busy sowing seeds the next chance I get to go to the allotment.