Newsletter December 2021
Trading shed closed over Christmas holidays
John Waterhouse will take a break over the holidays. Outside of that period, throughout the winter you can wander round to the shed to see whether John is about.
So the winter opening rule on a Sunday morning can be summarised: “Open when John is visible.”
Improving area around Nursery Avenue gate
The area along the fence by the Nursery Avenue gate is being used as a dump. It costs us money every time we get rid of all the rubbish that unknown allotment holders are placing there.
Before the spring, we will be clearing the rubbish that has accumulated one last time and install a raised flower bed. We will be asking for contributions of spare bedding plants when the time comes to plant the bed up.
This will make the entrance area rather more inviting than it is now and we hope that tidying it up will lead to a massive improvement in the behaviour of everybody.
According to the RHS annual veg planner, there are many vegetables that are being harvested in December – from cabbage to cauliflower, celeriac, leek, parsnip to spinach, and many more.
It is quite a surprising number when you look across all the popular types of vegetables available. Just disappointing, that I did not grow any of them. What I am growing now is still tiny – endives and corn salad. Must get organised next year.
Bee facts – did you know?
Every time I visit Kew Gardens I bring something back with me. This time it was two complementary pieces of information relating to the health or otherwise of our bee population.
Rhododendrons, I learnt, contain toxic chemicals. These are produced by the plant to protect itself against insects. Recent research in Kew, together with Trinity College in Dublin, has found that these toxic chemicals also occur in nectar. And they can poison some pollinators feeding on the nectar.
The study proved that the nectar of Rhododendron ponticum is toxic to honey bees and a wild mining bee species. Rhododendron ponticum is an invasive species that quickly spreads if allowed to do so.
It is native to Turkey where local honey bees can tolerate the toxin. When they collect the nectar they create toxic honey, also called ‘mad honey’. Humans who consume it behave as if violently drunk.
On the other end of the spectrum is heather. When bees feed on the nectar of heather, a common gut parasite of bumblebees gets wiped out.
For pollinators, heather is the second most productive nectar plant in the UK after white clover. The more reason to protect what heathland remains and as gardeners decide to only ever use peat-free compost.
Please send any feedback and blog ideas to Brigitte at firstname.lastname@example.org.