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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Attracting bees to the garden

After three years of poor courgette crops, actually nothing bar one stumpy courgette, I was keen to know why, why, why? Some study ensued and pollination seemed to be the key solution to my dilemma. What would help me solve the elusive pollination conundrum? Four letter word … bees! So my goal for the past summer was to entice bees to frolic, indulge and generally get their pollinating freak on in my garden. I’ve never been a great grower of flowers, usually using every available space in my small plot for veges. But this would need to change. I decided to grow in every other nook and cranny a variety of bee attracting blooms. On my list were Sunflowers, Asters, Dahlias, Lavenders, Hydrangeas, Echium, Zinnias and just to make it harder for myself I thought why not grow them all from seed or cuttings from the more impressive family gardens (thanks Lorena)?
Lets not dwell on the dampening off problems, frosts and unpredictable Auckland weather that resulted in many of my seedlings not making it to maturity.
I did actually manage to grow at least two or three plants of each flower on my list, and boy did the bees arrive! But did they solve the problem of the stumpy courgette? Get this! Over sixty courgettes off three plants, aah yes! The bees also had a fantastic impact on my beans and tomatoes, while others have reported extremely low yields this year I had record numbers. So here are some hints for you for planning next years summer garden: to attract bees plant a good variety of flowers with a particular emphasis on yellow, blue, white and violet hues and grow them in clumps. Make your garden inviting to the bees by providing shade and shelter from the wind and once they’ve made it to your garden don’t kill them, so lay off the pesticides.
and the results...

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