Tag Archives: Biogrow

Weeds & No Bees

zigzag

Outside my front door is a public path, a zigzag on a hillside. Originally planned as a road, it’s well-used by people on their way to the beach. Or to climb further up the hillside and perhaps then to drop down into the city. It’s Busy.

They run. They plod. They chat online and in person.

They walk their dogs. Some with plastic bags they use to remove their dogs’ shit. Some not.

And the zigzag tends to get Overgrown. So the city council employs contractors to tidy up.  And SPRAY.

I wasn’t happy about the spray. Not good for the bees. Or the soil. Or people. So I volunteered to care for the spaces close to me.

Some neighbours look after other sections and on one area I care for neighbours also kindly cleared around some native trees. And we’ve all collected a lot of rubbish. This chicken satay wrapping touched my heart. Did it come from whoever ate the chicken flavoured crisps?

Chicken satay
chicken satay & chicken flavoured crisps

Even though the zigzag is  close to my own bee-filled garden, I never see bees there. Or butterflies. Too few flowers. Probably too much spray residue, too, though the bees wouldn’t notice that.

I’ve been clearing spaces for sunflowers and tomatoes.

area for sunflowers

And for cape gooseberries.

area for cape goosberries

A neighbour’s  growing pumpkins outside her place. And herbs. And I’ve added herbs too.

thyme
thyme
lemon balm
lemon balm (with tiny parsley seedlings)
marjoram
marjoram

And native grasses someone gave me, grouped around the area where I’ll make a little path.  If you look carefully you can see three of the grasses here.

grasses
grasses

It’s a mission, to Get Rid of Weeds Without Sprays. Especially Dock, with its big roots and many seeds. Especially Fennel with its big roots and many seeds. There’s Wandering Willie. There’s ConvUlvulus.  Actually ConvOlvulus, but I wonder about that ‘vOlvu’ combination, because of the leaf’s shape.

Convulvulus

One writer says this about convolvulus–

Convolvulus is a tricky weed to deal with, because it spreads underground through its deep roots and rhizomes. Try to pull as much out as possible, following the white roots underground as you go, trying to pull them out rather than let them break off (where they will continue to grow). Convolvulus is another weed where it’s often helpful to use a little weedkiller; one time consuming but effective way to deal with it is to break the tip off of the runner[s] and dip them in bottle caps of Roundup, keeping them in the caps until it spreads into the roots. Otherwise, similar to Wandering Willie, it’s worth maintaining constant vigilance after removing it once.

Yep. I’m tempted to use Roundup for convolvulus.  But never have.

Then there’s this plant – I don’t know its name and can’t find it in weedlists.  It has huge underground roots, too.

anonymous (to me)
anonymous (to me), on the zigzag beyond ‘my’ bits

It also has lots of seeds. They scatter-and-sprout-in-cracks-and- crevices very very quickly  so I try to grab them as soon as they appear. Sometimes I can’t face digging the mature plants out, because of their roots, so I run round chopping off the flowers before they seed.

But one weed I can celebrate. A mate wandered around the hillside and found this.

shepherd's purse
shepherd’s purse

Yum, she said. She picked a whole lot and made an egg soup with it. Days later she sent me the English name and I looked it up and saw that yes, it is a healthy and useful herb and yes, there are all kinds of recommendations about how to kill it with chemicals. I ‘weed’ this little shepherd’s purse plot now, so it will divide and multiply.

And I’m putting my mind onto LABELS. So passersby know what the plants are. Know they can help themselves to anything they like. So they can offer ideas and plants if they feel like it.

And I’m thinking about a PLEASE CLEAN UP YOUR DOG’S SHIT sign.

As soon as the sunflowers, tomatoes, cape gooseberries are in the ground, on their nice woollen weed mat, I’m onto more bee-loved flowers out there.

The woollen weed mat – more of a carpet really – comes from Biogrow, the  same place as the biodegradable pots. Two big boxes of it dropped at the door.

weedmat1

In theory, I could use it without grubbing out all those nasty weeds. Just add compost on top and plant.

BUT I can’t cover the whole zigzag with the mat so it feels right to clear the soil where I am going to use it.  And the soil around that area. At least.

weedmat2

(The wool cuts easily with scissors. Could be sewn? A woollen-weed-carpet-collection-of-garments-to-garden-in?)

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A Bigger Picture

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It’s magic to have this opportunity to learn about others who love bees and about resources that will help me (& you!) grow Bee-Loved plants.

Ian Stewart and Jo Donelly, who own Bees Blessing, sell honeyed cordials at the Sunday market down the road as well as in shops. They’ve kept bees for thirty years and use their own cordial recipes and, wherever possible, organically grown produce from New Zealand. And they brew in small batches with NO additives, preservatives or ‘fillers’ (like water). I had one of their Hot Lemon Honey Ginger drinks the other day. It was ace at 8 o’clock in the morning. Totally delicious and sustaining. And one of the stall-keepers told me about cauliflower soup with borage, something to try!

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Bees Blessing blackboard at the market

And today I fell over Wild Forage, and its Wild Flower Seed Rescue Remedy. Another source of seeds! All proceeds go to the National Beekeepers Association of New Zealand.

bulk-pack

Yesterday, in the wind and rain, I delivered pots and seed mix and seeds (from Koanga and Kings) to my Kapiti mates. The pots came from Fertil, in France, via Biogrow. In a big box! Exciting.

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This afternoon, I’ll sow some of my bean seeds. The little brown ones (swollen because they’ve been soaking overnight) are bordoloi beans. They’re the descendants of seeds a New Zealand soldier brought here from Italy, after World War II. The big red ones are runner beans, swapped for some bordoloi with my qi gong teacher, last year. Like tomatoes, beans can manage without bees. They pollinate automatically before the flowers open, when the anthers are pushed up against the stigma. But I love having heritage beans among the other plants.

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My grandsons make bean dens but my beans will be in rows. Or in pots.

bean den boys
Jake and James plant their beans, which will grow into a den.

More about Bees Blessing

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bottles-on-heads
Ian Stewart, Jo Donelly & their daughter Emare