Friday, 9 March 2012

Planting time

I've started the first little bits of planting. Seven varities of bread bean; Crimson Flowered, Red Bristow (from the HSL), Aquadulce, Grando Violetto, Wizard, a field bean, and Red Epicure, all tp be planted together. I'm going to let them all cross, add more to the mix next year, and see what I end up with. I'm looking for somthing tasty, tough (hence the field bean), red-flowered and red-seeded. I've also put three lines of TPS (true potato seed) in at home; Skagit Magic, which is supposedly blight resistant, only I didn't have any blight to test it last year, Russian Blue, and Blue Belle. Last year I got them in mid-May, and planted then, far too late. This year they've got plenty of time to develop.

My surviving bee colony has far too much brood; four and a half frames of it. That's consistent with what I'm hearing elsewhere, and it's no doubt due to the mild winter. Trouble is, there's no way the bees are going to bring in enough food for that lot in early March. We're going to see a lot of colonies starving this spring, and those tha come through will be unusually strong. All we need then is a dry and sunny May, and there are going to be swarms all over the place. At the moment, they're bringing in a little pollen - a lot for the time of year, but not much in absolute terms - from snowdrops, blackthorn and hazel.

 The first pussy willow is showing, and it won't be long before wllow pollen predominates. It's that time of year; it's often a bit warmer, so the bees can fly for longer, and there are large trees within a few yards. With an ample supply of food for the first time since early autumn, the bees can expand the boodnest, and build up the numbers. They're still vulnerable, though. If there's a shortage of stored food, a spell of cold or wet weather can easily reduce them to starvation.

Meanwhile, the hellebores are in full bloom.

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