Wednesday 3 January 2018

Flowers On The Plot

When I first got my allotment my thoughts were only of food and not flowers, but gradually I have started to appreciate not only flowers visually but how they support and attract pollinators especially Bees, and how they can encourage certain predators or repel troublesome insects.  

We are quite lucky that we have a bee keeper on our plot, and the bees enjoy my ivy bush/ tree that grows above and behind my shed and the flowers on the comfrey. They spend time in my runner beans and other beds pollinating on their way to and from these two nectar resources which are at the furthest end of my plot from where their hives are located at the back of the drop off and pick up area.

Poached egg plants, (Limnanthes douglassi) are very easy to establish, they are supposed to be self-seeding, but I end up growing a new batch each year, and I plant these in the Runner Bean bed.  

The best thing about poached egg plants is they flower for such a long season and they attract hoverflies and ladybirds which love to feed on blackfly and aphids. So successful are they in quelling these invasive little insects which are ‘farmed’ and ‘milked’ by ants, that over the last few years since discovering them that  I have not had to wash off the aphids with soapy water, which always seemed to have a detrimental effect on the runner beans and since using the Poached Egg Plants I've had wonderful crops.

English marigold (calendula) is superb for hoverflies, which will eat aphids but I have not tried them on the allotment as I only normally see French Marigolds in the seed sales.  

French marigolds are the real smelly ones and can be used to deter whitefly. Mexican marigold does too, but it grows over 5 foot tall, and I don't think I will be growing any of that variety on the plot.

Wild Flowers for Bees In previous years I have received free packets of specially selected mix of wild flowers that will not only look beautiful, but will also attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators to my Allotment. There are enough seed in the pack to cover half a square metre so that's 0.5m x 1.0m.

I use flower buckets and place them at the end of each of the paths between my beds on the allotment. Not forgetting to collect seed heads in September for re sowing the following year.

Daffodils & Blue Bells - I purchased a shed load of Daffs and relocated a quantity of Bluebells from the back garden to the Comfrey bed on plot 1A some years ago.

It's nice to see the early growth, however in 2016 & 2017 they started to show a little early in December !. Somehow it makes me happy to see early signs of Spring in the midst of Winter, and they welcome me to the plot and make me smile.

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