Can plants forecast the weather? Of course it’s well known that both Rain Daisies (Osteospermum) from South Africa and our native Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis spp.) both close up their flowers before rain but what about long term – will this winter be cold or mild?
You might have noticed that this year there’s a lot of berries around not to mention that oak trees seem loaded with acorns – are we heading for a ‘mast’ year when both oaks and beeches produce a huge abundance of seeds.
In the day my father (an old farmer) would have said that we’re heading for a cold winter as plants are hedging their bets by producing seeds for the future – but I don’t know! But I do know that there’s going to be lots of food around for our bird winter visitors like Fieldfares and Redwings.
The autumn harvest has already started it seems, as recorded by my colleague Rachel in Waterloo, where a branch of a street tree (in this case an Chinese Loquat) had broken off and fallen on the pavement.
Two teenage boys:-
Boy A: "fam, try this!"
Boy B: "can I really eat it??"
Boy A: "yeah fam, they're bare nice!"
Boy B tries it... and after going "FAM! That IS sooo sweet", he keeps eating all the fallen fruits on the branch!
Now’s the season to think about green manures we use these in the Skip garden to cover any crop-free patches of ground over the winter then dig them in during springtime to give the soil a boost. My favourite is Phacelia, a soft stemmed flowering plant from North American’s short grass prairies although I have to be honest I do find it hard to dig it in as the blue flowers are gorgeous and much loved by bees. I tend to steer clear of some of the grass green manures like Ryegrass, as they tend to be hard to kill off.
Happy planning for winter crops!
Bumblebee Conservation Trust: Fact of the Month.
Once new bumblebee queens have mated, they find a nice snug north facing bank in which to dig themselves into for a winter nap. They choose cold north facing banks to avoid being woken up early by the winter sun. They will emerge the following spring once temperatures begin to rise.