Friday, 18 March 2011

Slow spring

It's slowly getting warmer. Too slowly for me. The bees seem happy; they were busy bringing in bright yellow willow pollen at nine degrees today, in full sun. They need sun to be active at that temperature, but willow is good. I've always found that bees would only start raising significant brood after it started. If it was too cold for them to fly while the pollen was on the catkins, they were going to be very late.

They've got three and a half frames of brood, and were in a very nice mood; they took no notice of me pulling their home apart at all. There's quite a lot of pollen in there; quite a bit of it under the brood, which is supposed to be a native bee characteristic. These are hybrids, but with, I suspect, a fair bit of native blood.

The broad beans are coming up slowly at last. I've put together two more mini greenhouses, since I couldn't get the right size covers for the old ones. I'm going to use those as shelving for stuff that can go outside. The brassicas I started the other day are now up, and are in one of the new ones. Digging is proceeding fairly well, and I'm managing to move a bit faster. I don't feel any better, but something has to be improving.

LL sent me some oca to replace what I lost last year; there are three varieties, where I only had two before. You can tell because the tubers are different colours. That gives me more chance of getting seeds. Different varieties have different types of flower, and without going into the technicalities, you need flowers of two different types to get pollination. Seed gives the only chance we have - and it's not much, given the number of people interested - of getting a new variety which can form tubers early enough to cope wit our climate. The problem with the existing ones is that tuber formation only occurs as the plant begins to die back, and then the frost is likely to catch it.

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