Thursday 24 June 2010


I had another look at that hive yesterday, and they now have brood on three frames, and they're into comb drawing mode. For the first couple of weeks, they were tearing down comb, and I'm not sure why. Bees often tear down old, black combs which the beekeeper ought to have removed long before, but these had only been drawn a couple of years ago, and there was nothing obviously wrong with them. Other combs of the same age or older have been accepted without problems.

Rebsie said she's found two different varieties circulating as 'Kent Blue'. That's not unique; there seem to be several King Tut's. Here are a couple of not very good pics of mine. The small, dimpled, olive-green seeds with purple speckles look right; it's about four feet high, and a bit overshadowed by taller peas. As you can see from the second pic, there are splashes of purple at the leaf bases. It remains to be seen whether the pods become sickle-shaped and knobbly.

This is Bijou, a giant sugar pea from Real Seeds. It's an extremely vigorous grower with these hooded, deep purple flowers. It's going to be interesting to see what it turns into!

This one is Ezetha's Krombek Blauschok. I don't know the origin of this one; it could be old, but there are no old records of the name so it could be quite modern. Over there the purple podded varieties are known as Capucijners, after the Capuchin monks who bred improved field peas in the 15th Century.

Wednesday 23 June 2010


The bees now have two frames of brood. I found a queen, unmarked, and distinctly yellower than the one I originally spotted. They've had no chance to raise a new one, so the swarm arrived with at least two. That's not particularly unusual.
This is the Salmon-Flowered Pea, an amazing old variety with a raft of recessive genes. Pink flowers, thickened, fasciated stems, and all the flowers together at the top. They all bloom at once, unfortunately. The peas are small, round and sweet. I don't know how old this particular variety is, but umbellate peas with this general form were popular from the late 17th Century until the early 19th.
Robinson's Purple Podded Pea, from Robinson's Seeds. These are often sold as generic 'Purple Podded Peas', but they're all different varieties of old field peas, grown originally for dried peas and animal fodder. This one reaches around six feet. The type was first bred on the continent by Capuchin monks in the 15th Century.
Champion of England, a tall marrowfat bred in 1843 by William Fairbeard. Darwin grew this one.
Carruthers' Purple Podded, with a young pod.

Thursday 10 June 2010

Round the allotment

Everything's a right mess at the moment, desperately in need of a strim, which I haven't done due to backache. I seem to have got over it though, so it'll get done shortly. Meanwhile, here are some of the things in flower at the moment.
Allium 'Purple Sensation'
An old-fashioned paeony.
Serpette Guilotteau, an old French pea which allegedly reaches five feet or so.
Camassia. these are edible, and they're multiplying so fast I'll be reduced to eating them before long!
Onions growing through grass cutting mulch. You can see what happens to Poundland fleece after a short while. I won't be buying any more!