Thursday 18 July 2013

Hive Inspection

Rat-tailed radishes are now in full bloom. I haven't grown these before; it'll be interesting to see what they come out like. The whole of a radish plant is edible, but these are bred for the seed pods rather than the roots.

I inspected both swarms today. The first one - in Hive 6 - is the larger. It has a big patch of eggs on one frame, and a small patch on another. There's no brood yet that I can see. I've found the queen and marked her with red paint. That's last year's colour; I doubt whether she was raised this year.

The second, in Hive 2, has no eggs or brood that I can see, and I couldn't find the queen. It's a lot smaller than the first, but quite strong enough to grow and flourish. It's early days yet, and I can see nothing wrong.

There were mobs of bees round Hive 3 this afternoon, so there could be yet another swarm on the way.

Tuesday 16 July 2013


Last year I tried some shallotts I'd been given by a neighbour who shows them. They didn't do much, but it was a ghastly year, and I've never had any luck with the things anyway. For years, I didn't bother growing them. However, I tried again, in one of my raised beds.

They flourished. I'll be keeping these for planting, to give me a good crop (I hope) next year. It's amazing what a difference a few inches elevation can make. I've long suspected the things failed due to wet soil all winter, and it looks as though I was right.

Saturday 6 July 2013

Peas and Broad Beans

This strange looking little pea, known to me as PI 269787 Umbellata, is one of several I got from the States over the winter. As you see, it's very dwarf, very umbellate - all the flowers and tendrils are together at the top - and the white flowers come one at a time, and don't fully open.

I've got several more interesting ones, and I'll post pics when they flower. The only other umbellate pea I have pics of is Salmon Flowered, which has been circulating over here for years.

There's very little record of individual varieties, but the type, which is generally a little sweeter tasting than earlier peas, was popular from the late 17th to the early 19th Century.

Crimson Flowered Bean, an old English variety known from the 18th Century at least, and Oldambster Wierboon, from Holland. I rather wish I'd grown the latter out separately rather than putting all the seeds i had into a mix.

I can't believe the broadies have been in since March, but they're in full bloom at last, and beans are starting to form. I've just planted Luz de Otono, a day length neutral variety from Spain, which is supposed to produce a crop in a mild autumn if it goes in at this time. It'll be interesting to see if it works!

 Sarracenia flava. I have a few Sarracenias growing outside; most of them are fine, though plants grown from seed which originated in the southern States don't do so well/

An old rose I grew from a cutting.

Lastly smoke rising from the biggest fire ever recorded in the West Midlands, last week. A Chinese lantern ignited a waste dump in Smethwick, a few miles away. It's not unique; there used to be a used tyre dump in Lozells which went up in smoke regularly, and there have been others. I don't understand why these things are allowed in urban areas where large numbers of people can be affected by poisonous smoke.