Thursday, August 28, 2008

No such thing as a free lunch?

With the so-called ‘credit crunch’ upon us we might all be thinking of new ways to tighten our belts. Food prices have really increased of late and waiting lists for allotment plots have begun to lengthen proportionally. The possibility of growing your own organic veg has tempted many.

Walking across a field last week I was reminded that we don’t even have to get planting in order to have a meal from the soil. On the banks of a stream, fed by a spring, some healthy looking watercress plants were thriving. There is lots of free food available in hedgerows and fields for those who know where to look. A whole host of wild plants can be eaten from dandelion and nettle to hedgerow blackberries and wild garlic. I have to admit that so far I have stuck to eating what I have grown myself, a bit concerned about misidentifying a wild plant. What about you?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

summer stripes

The flowering herbs in the back yard have created quite a buzz. It still amazes me how you can so easily attract beneficial insects with just a few plants and flowers in a city yard. There seems to be around eight or so bumble bees on the herbs at any one time, collecting nectar. I'm reading 'A World Without Bees' at the moment which helps to explain some of the behaviour. Here's what I have learnt:
1. Bumble bees prefer purple flowers while honeybees have a preference for white blooms
2. Honeybees are great pollenators because they will keep making thousands of visits to one flower species at a time until they have used up all it's nectar.
3. The antennae on a bee's head allow it to smell in stereo.