Where have all the bees gone?

…To our front garden? After we laid the new lawn, I concentrated on planting up the new front flower border. As it is our only south facing spot, I really wanted hot colours and the type of flowers that have never thrived in our shady raised borders in the back.

More photos to follow soon on the planting progress, but just recently I have noticed that there is a constant wave of activity over the heleniums.
Helenium Bee2

We have seen honey bees, mining bees and plenty of bumble bees in the flower bed, not to mention the hover flies, lace wings and ladybirds. Unfortunately, fewer seem to visit the border on the other side of the lawn, and a beautiful ruby-stemmed euphorbia I planted in the spring has been ravaged by aphids. It’s not looking so healthy now. I hope the bright colours of the flowers will attract more wildlife for next year, and as an autumn project we will be constructing insect houses with the children.

Helenium Ladybird1

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Redcurrants

I was never the biggest fan of redcurrants in the past. Perhaps the available varieties were more bitter then the blackcurrants I loved. When we took over our allotment, we inherited 2 blackcurrant bushes and one redcurrant. I have to say, that the redcurrants have always been better fruiters and far sweeter to the palette.

After two years of leaving them to get on with it, we’re going to make sure we prune properly this autumn, as the bushes are starting to look straggly. It’s also quite difficult reaching to the other side, for the leggy wooden growth in the middle. I will have to research if there are pruning groups and what the suggested rules are.

Redcurrents
Even after 2 afternoons stripping currants, there were still enough to do something useful with. So Damian set to and decided to make some redcurrant jelly.

Redcurrent jelly pan

Method:

Add sugar to the washed redcurrants in a pan.
Cover with water.
Boil vigorously for a while.
Once the mixture is reduced, strain through a muslin to remove the
pips etc.
Decant the jelly to sterilised jars and leave to set.

Redcurrent jelly jar

The result; two jars of the (naturally) sweetest redcurrant jelly that complements many lunches, salads and even cooked dinners.

The Rolling Harvest Begins!

We’ve been busy documenting progress with the camera after our trips to the allotment, but too busy to keep up with the blog.

Green leaves is pretty much what I’ve been craving all the way from Christmas, as it’s difficult to source locally grown options. Next winter, we’re going to look at ways of heating a small area, just enough to keep one or two plants on the go, but don’t yet know how viable this will be (financially or environmentally).

Poly Tunnel on 1st July 09
Poly Tunnel on 1st July 09

This is the poly tunnel on the 1st July, after the tomatoes, corn, globe artichokes, peppers and aubergines were blooming having been transplanted in the grow bags in May, and the seed sown in-situ pak choi and chinese greens were ready for harvesting.

Elephant garlic behind the standard sized bulb
Elephant garlic behind the standard sized bulb
On the same day, Damian dug up one of each variety of garlic for tasting.

And the trug we bought home for dinner was full of fabulous green leafy veg….
Veg Trug