A good friend came to stay at the weekend, which of course was great fun. But what’s better than a visit from a good friend? A visit from a friend who’s bearing gifts – that’s what!
A rummage in her overnight bag produced a strange structure made of wood, which she proudly thrust into my arms. I looked at it dubiously and eventually asked, “Err… what is it?”
“Oh, Lynno!” she scoffed. “It’s an insect hotel. It will be GREAT in your garden!”
A closer look at the instructions revealed that in theory, it should indeed be fabulous for the garden. Apparently, it contains all sorts of hidey holes that are a magnet for things like solitary bees, ladybirds, lacewings and other creepy crawlies. Once they’ve moved in, they should happily whiz around your garden, pollinating stuff left right and centre.
Although we’ve been lucky enough to have had tree bees in our bird box for the last couple of years, I’m all for enticing a few more varieties into the patch. Bees are apparently on the decline, so if we can help any out with a place to stay for the summer, it’s got to be worth a go.
The ideal place for the insect hotel was about a metre off the ground, in a sunny spot where it can catch some of the early morning rays. Without further ado, the other half shot out to install it, and duly shoved a bit of straw in the bottom part, as per the leaflet. We’ve gone for a sheltered spot outside the greenhouse, which should remain undisturbed – but equally is near enough to the veg patch for the insects to work their magic. I’ll be keeping my beady eye out for anything taking up residence.
Meanwhile, back in the greenhouse, I’ve been busily pricking out seedlings to give them more room to grow. The best way I’ve found of doing this is to loosen the soil around the roots, hold the seedling carefully by its leaves and transplant to a larger pot, trying not to cause any damage or disturbance to the plant or the roots. Then put some soil around the roots, and gently firm around the base. Keep it well watered, and it should soon grow into its new space, throwing up new leaves and growth.
I’ve also popped a few more broad bean seeds in between the established plants in the garden. The plan is that the crop will be staggered, and hopefully I’ll get beans over a longer period of time. The peas and carrots I sowed a week or so back aren’t yet popping up but I’m happy to report that I have healthy-looking rows of radish, turnips and beetroot. I’m sure everything will catch up in good time.
So my final word this week is to our local insect population. There’s a lovely hotel that’s just opened for the summer. Reasonable rates, and available for rent. Come on in… you know you want to…
This one appeared in The Hinckley Times on 2 May 2013