Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Victoria's Green Matters - 10th June

Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury:

How does your garden grow? The lovely warm weather and intermittent rain has brought on the plants well after a very cold winter and spring.

We rely very much on beneficial insects to pollinate our vegetable plants and without them there would be no peas, broad or runner beans, tomatoes and courgettes, among others. We would need to rely on root crops such as carrots, parsnips, swedes and turnips and brassicas such as cabbages, cauliflowers and sprouts for our vegetables. Insects are also necessary to pollinate many other crops that we rely on for food.

Many things have affected insect life around the world. Besides climate change, man has been using harmful chemicals, both to fertilise the soil and to kill off unwanted weeds and pests. Unfortunately, this combination of chemicals has been indiscriminate in its effect on all insects, good or bad.

We have all heard about the decline in the number of bees around the world and this last winter has been particularly hard for bees in the USA although here in the UK they have fared better. A consensus of opinion amongst experts is that combinations of chemicals used on crops has affected bees already weakened by the veroa mite and caused high losses. Many experiments have shown that, separately, these chemicals have little effect on the bees but in combination with others they may be deadly.

We can all do our bit to help the bees here. Almost all of us can grow something in our garden that the bees can rely on for food. These plants are simple ones such as verbena, scabias, cornflower, hardy geranium, echinacea, foxglove and many more.
It is really important that we try to grow plants that can provide our bees with the pollen and nectar they need to thrive and in return they will pollinate our food crops.

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