March 2016: Notes from the Garden Shed

May is the month when the great northern Insect Festival really gets into gear. We’re starting to see the first butterflies of the year – Brimstone and Large White, Orange Tip and Holly Blue. The large queen Bumblebees have been bumbling around for some time now and Honeybees are really working hard. So also are the blackfly on our Broad Beans - they don’t seemed to have stopped this year - with much a mild winter we’ve been making garlic spray since January trying to reduce their effect on our bean harvest!

Holly Blue Butterfly

Holly Blue Butterfly

Other Insect Festival signs to watch out for: that the Swifts have returned to our skies, watch them scything the sky hoovering up great balls of micro flies (as a gardener I’m hoping mostly aphids!)

Swift

Swift

Then there are the young nestlings popping up everywhere full of vast amounts of caterpillars and grubs – I’ve been watching a pair of Blue Tits flying back to a nest-box every 30 seconds with their beaks full of insect larvae to feed their young – can you imagine the bio-mass they’ve shifted over the last two weeks! Talk about a gardener’s friend!

Blue Tit Nestling

Blue Tit Nestling

Then of course there are all the flowers joining the Insect Festival hoping to their attract their favourite pollinating partner like this lovely wild Dog Rose liberally showering visitors to their nectar pots with pollen and scenting the air with the most beautiful perfume.

Just one of many flowers now gracing our hedgerows, verges and grasslands and we’re not doing badly in the Skip garden with the Blackcurrant Sage and many of the cabbages flowering freely.

Dog Rose

Dog Rose

From a gardening point of view this is a difficult time of year – have we had the last frost? Will we get another cold blast of air from the north? Fortune favours the brave – but sadly not the early planted tomatoes that have been knocked back by some rather cold nights!

Truly gardeners should follow the old adage ‘heir and spare’.

Happy pricking out and potting on!