Pardon the Weeds, We’re Feeding the Bees

The bottom of our vegetable garden has always been a difficult weedy spot, the usual suspects such as nettles and docks with some rather beautiful cow parsley. For a couple of years we tried to tame this area to turn it over to growing food, but over time we realised it wasn’t going to happen.

The first year we tried digging it all out removing as much root as we could. They came back. The second year we tried covering with cardboard to block out light and nutrients. They came back again. Weed killer is a big NO in our garden, so this left us with one option – leave it be and let it go wild. And you know what, I’m so glad we did! Alive with bees and other wildlife, this has quickly become our favourite part of the garden.

A log pile in the garden can be home to many types of garden wildlife. How cute is this mouse?! I probably won’t think so when she steals my peas!!

The nettle patches and docks are flowering now and attracting small moths we have never seen in the garden before. Bees and hoverflies flock to the cow parsley flowers which are just starting to go over. We added a little pond at the beginning of the year which has blended in beautifully and already home to some rather fat tadpoles, the frog and newt population in our garden has grown from strength to strength since putting in numerous wildlife ponds over the years, the total count now is 3 wildlife ponds (no fish) with one large fish pond near the house. It’s so lovely to watch bees and birds drinking from them too.

We planted buddleia which are very attractive to butterflies when in flower and sown numerous wildflower seed mixes.

The wood forget-me-not further down the border were already well established and such a welcome sight in spring, we have enjoyed the flowers for much longer this year due to the prolonged cold/wet weather in May. On the far side of the garden near the compost bins we decided to leave a section of grass to grow, just a wide strip which has become a refuge for frogs during the hot weather we’ve been having lately.

If you can, allow a section of your garden or allotment to grow wild. It doesn’t have to be large, just a small area can be a safe haven or source of food for garden visitors.

Food for Bees and Pollinators

I can feel spring approaching, I have a warm fuzzy feeling inside just thinking about it. As I begin to open veg seed packets to sow my first crops of the year, I drift away into my own little world inside the greenhouse. My thoughts turn to warm summer days rolling into hazy golden-lit evenings, sharing food and wine with friends as I watch lazy bumble bees collecting nectar while butterflies dance overhead. I cannot imagine a garden without these necessary visitors, I wouldn’t want to either.

When you begin to sow your veg seeds why not sow some food for the bees too? Perhaps you’re already planning to plant or sow pollinator friendly plants this year, if you already include plants in your garden for our pollinators but are looking for extra year round attraction, take a look at this helpful list of trees and plants: http://www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/Sustainable-gardening/pdfs/RHS_Pollinators_PlantList

Go on, sow, plant and grow food for the bees and pollinators, you’ll be doing them a good deed and in return they’ll reward you with excellent yields from your fruit and veg garden. Not only that, your garden will be a hive of activity – a beautiful haven bursting with wildlife and year round interest.