Green Your Life

Talking about amazing eco-friendly products and access to my online Wikaniko shop.


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Planting for Bees (other other bugs)

Bugs in a pumpkin flower!

Bugs in a pumpkin flower!

Now is a really great time to get planting wildflower seeds for bees, butterflies and all sorts of other bugs.  I love going around collecting wildflower seeds and taking them home to plant.  From doing this and buying some plants, I have quite a collection of wildflowers in my garden – most I haven’t got a clue what they are called, but if bees and bugs like them, they get to stay.

A mixture of wildflowers. The tall ones with big leaves have lovely purple flowers!

A mixture of wildflowers. The tall ones with big leaves have lovely purple flowers!

Throughout the late summer and autumn I go around collecting the seeds and some I plant in trays or pots recently vacated by the carrots that have left the garden for the kitchen and our stomachs.  Some I scatter around my wildflower beds and some I keep for spring.  I also use some of our lovely wildflower seed-balls which do really well, though unfortunately, a bit of chilli powder in the seed-ball-mix does not deter the slugs!

The wildflower patch in early summer.

The wildflower patch in early summer.

The plan is to have quite a lot of wildflower plugs that will be slug resistant come spring!  This spring the slugs definitely won the vegetable and wildflower seedling battle for quite a few weeks!  I may not have been happy.

My large white daisy’s (Ox-eye I think) are coming up well and so are some sweet williams, the marigolds, some lovely blue flowers and others that will only be recognisable when they are quite a bit bigger!

Blue flowers, loved by bees and other invertebrates!

Blue flowers, loved by bees and other invertebrates!

I may even be so successful in my wildflower growing that the kids will be able to sell some alongside more strawberry plants at a spring-time event!  However, they will have to help out with potting on so that the wildflowers have a good chance at survival.  And we may need to figure out what they all are – not sure people are happy buying ‘lovely blue flowers that bees like’!  But you never know!!

The white daisies growing on well

The white daisies growing on well

I admit wildflower areas don’t always look pretty or neat, but by having a few of these areas in your garden gives bees food and a home.  As our world climate changes, the bees, butterflies and many other animals will need our support more and more to survive.

So go on, plant some wildflowers and give a bee a hug!

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Wonderful Wildflowers

Animals 056Spring is really here!  It was so wonderfully warm today, my two children spent most of the time in the ‘not-a-lot’, we even got the sun cream on them.

Now is a great time to be thinking about wildflowers – or at least it is in my mind!  There is still time to be planting wildflowers to get great summer blooms and give fabulous colour to your garden – no matter how big or small.  I do admit that wildflowers can be a bit hit and miss – sometimes they take more than one year to grow and flower, but once you have created a mini-meadow, then it will bloom year on year with relatively little attention from you (compared to a lawn that is!).

So one good reason to have a wildflower meadow – reduce the mowing!  Fabulous if like me, this is not a great way for you to spend a dry day!

Why else do I plant native wildflowers over ornate blooms or tropical imports?

Well, a major reason is bees, bugs and butterflies and all the things that rely on them for food (including us!). Without bees and other pollinators, our food supplies would dwindle dramatically so, in my mind, it is essential to do a little to give the pollinators, decomposers, seed disperses, predators, and yes, even slugs, a helping hand.  So gradually I am turning my front lawn into a wildflower meadow.

I have removed a 1x 3m rectangle of grass and a large number of flower-seeds have gone into this.  Some are growing, but not all (yet).  There is only about another 4x3m section of grass left to remove and I already have lots of flowers starting to grow indoors – all ready for planting out.

Seed ball tinsMany wildflowers are not so keen on really fertile soil, preferring fairly nutrient poor ground.  They are not good in heavy competition either so it is good to remove the turf and top-soil prior to planting.  Depending on flowering time, once the meadow is doing well you can get away with an early spring mow (for summer flowers) and then a mow after the flowers are over and seeds are set.  But don’t do really short mows as this may damage the plants too much.

Also, when you do mow, do remove the cut grass – perhaps after a day or so, so any seeds can drop off seed-heads and into the soil for next years flowers.

Planting is best in spring or autumn and now we have a great, hassle-free way to plant using seed-balls.  The range is fabulous and we even have sets for your own table!

 

 

urban_meadow_2We have

Salad Mix – an easy way to get a mix of salad greens, just plant one ball every few weeks for salad all summer long.

Herb Mix – with basil, marjoram, chives, dill and parsley, you can get many of your cooking herbs from these seed-balls, and provide wildlife with fabulous pollen!

Cloud Meadow Mix – a range of white blooms that go on throughout the summer

Urban Meadow Mix – hardy plants that will survive even in fairly polluted areas, providing pollen for bees and butterflies.

Poppy Mix – lovely poppies add beautiful colour to your garden and attract a whole host of wildlife.

Butterfly Mix – flowers that butterflies love including red campion, forget-me-not, yarrow, purple loosestrife and musk mallow.

Bee Mix – attract a wide range of bees to your garden with these pretty flowers, including foxglove, vipers bugloss, birds foot trefoil, wild marjoram and red clover.

Sky Meadow – give your garden a wild blue make-over with these seed-balls.  A mix of early and late summer flowers including forget-me-not, meadow cranesbill, cornflower, self heal and wild clary.

Tea Mix – flowers for the bees and butterflies and leaves and flowers to make your tea!  Includes chamomile, mint and anise.

So what are you waiting for?

Time to get planting.