Bee on blossom at the farm last spring. Our honey bees are dying in their millions. Check out "Who killed the honey bee?" on BBC 4 tomorrow night. This promises to be a facinating documentary on the major decline of what the bbc describes as "the number one insect pollinator on the planet, responsible for the production of over 90 crops".http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jzjys
I had to smile to myself the other day when I went into the tunnel and saw dozens of little tomato seedlings poking through the dry earth. They have obviously self-set from last summer. When I think how I have nurtured the seed that I sowed this year - sowing in individual plugs of organic compost, juggling them indoors and out to the greenhouse depending on the weather...And the tomatoes that have self-set are growing in hard, stoney ground amidst the weeds and are way ahead and way healthier than my greenhouse batch. If I'd have know that would happen I would have saved myself all the bother, as I have now gone round pricking them all out and transferring them into individual pots. They will all be heritage varieties and could be any of the following: Red Zebra, Gardeners Delight, Brandywine, Chadwick, Yellow Pear, Galina, Gold Medal and Purple Ukraine...but it'll be a bit of a lottery in terms of which plant is which. I'm rather happy about this unexpected collection of plants as I lost most of last years to blight. For this reason, I don't really want to risk growing them in the tunnel again this season, and i won't have much room for them in the greenhouse. Still, I guess I can give them away - it would feel wrong hoeing them all out somehow!
The beauty of growing heritage varieties (as opposed to hybrids) is that you can save the seed and grow it sucessfully the next year. Over time the plant adapts to the conditions in its particular surroundings and seed can be passed on and shared for years to come. More soon about heritage varieties and how to save seed...
Above: Blackthorn and Gorse grow side by side at the farm. There are masses of these white blossoms all over the Cornish hedgerows at the moment. In the autumn here at the farm the prickly branches become laden with sloes. At this time of year it's often tricky to tell the difference between blackthorn and hawthorn, but the blossom usually comes before the leaves on blackthorn. That's one way to identify the plant and then you'll know if you can look forward to sloes later in the year!
Above: Feverfew (also known as Featherfew) is a hardy herbaceous perennial with yellow and white daisy-like flowers. The 17th Century Culpepper's Complete Herbal (above) advises, "It is very effectual for all pains in the head coming of a cold cause, the herb being bruised and applied to the crown of the head...". In recent times, it has been found to be effective in the treatment of migraines. I have just sown some more seed as migraine runs in my family and I would like to provide all the sufferers with a plant each! The seed is absolutely tiny so patience is required. I have sowed it in individual plugs with a thin covering of standard compost, although some books state not to cover seed at all.