Down on the Allotment

Matron grows vegetables and fruit in a Hampshire garden. I've been growing veggies since I was knee high to a grasshopper. Some traditional varieties and old favourites as well as new ideas. I share my garden with my allotment assistant Daisy the Labrador. On Twitter as @MatronsVeggies

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beans and Bees

Different varieties of climbing beans are just starting to crop. The secret of tasty and tender beans is to pick them while they are still small. This probably means going out every day and picking because they grow so quickly this time of year. Last night these beans were cooked for 5 minutes then tossed in butter and garlic! Yum!
These lovely thin beans are an old variety Lazy Housewife. I first saw these growing down in Cornwall at the Lost gardens of Heligan. They were a popular variety in Victorian England.
Despite earlier setting problems these are the first runner bean St George to get to eating size. It is especially important to pick runner beans when they are small and tender. You wait any longer and they are stringy and tough. This experience will put a child off eating them for life!
Another old heritage variety survived being eaten by my dog Buddy! These are Mrs Fortune's climbing beans.
We've had a tiny amount of rain in the last couple of days but it just dries up immediately and does no good to the garden at all. You might remember to keep water in the birdbath for the birds but I have been noticing the number of honey bees drinking in my birdbath at the moment.
Most of the time now there are 3 or 4 bees at a time sitting on the wet edge of the birdbath drinking water. I assume they have been going back to their hive and doing their 'bee dance' telling the other bees where there is a supply of water.
Your birdbath is not just for the birds. Make sure there is a shallow, wet side for the insects as well.


At 10:48 AM, Blogger Bangchik and Kakdah said...

It never cross my mind that bee needs drinking water. Yes, on dry days even nectar may not be very quenching... You did well with beans...

At 12:41 PM, Blogger MILLIE said...

Your beans look very tasty. I have gotten hooked on trying different beans. Your speckled ones look like my speckled ones. I was also watching bees yesterday..but I didn't take any pictures. Mine were visiting the sunflowers in the garden. Wow...they were loading up on pollen.
I was trying to focus on local blogs...but how can I pass up checking up on you!

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Marian (LondonUK) said...

Hi Matron, I have just been talking to a bee keeper at our Lottie site who says the bees are severely de-hydrated and desperately need water, he was asking for fellow nature lovers and growers to fill a dish, put some largeish stones in so the bees can perch and drink without falling in and drowning. Your blog is informative and fun as ever.
Marian (LondonUK)

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Kalena Michele said...

Amazing photo of the bee getting a drink of water. Very good thing to think about next time I get a birdbath. Maybe I can build one one day!

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Robert Brenchley said...

Bees normally drink a lot in spring when they're relying on stored honey and need to dilute it. The needs are considerable then because they're rearing a lot of brood, there aren't that many adult bees, and they're getting through a lot of food.

By this time there are a lot more bees, and they use nectar coming in rather than stored honey, so they wouldn't normally need to drink. If they do, it's because the local honey plants are getting too dry to produce nectar. Mione still seem to be getting some from bramble, which is very deep-rooted and doesn't fail very often, but it'll be finishing soon.

A beekeeper can easily remedy the situation by feeding with weak sugar syrup, which then gives the hive all the water it needs.

At 4:17 AM, Blogger Dan said...

Nice to see the honey bees. We don't have many around here since the colony collapse things.

At 5:14 AM, Anonymous kitsapFG said...

Lovely beans and thanks for the reminder to keep water available for all our garden friends.

My bush beans are blooming and the pole and runner beans are only just climbing at the moment. We are several weeks behind normal schedule this year because the spring and start of summer was down right chilly this year. However, I am looking forward to the bean harvest starting up soon.

At 8:27 PM, Anonymous Damo said...

Great beans Matron and I'm learning all about bees as well.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Carrie said...

Fab beans! I LOVE the fact that Buddy like beans the same as Maggie. We picked our very first runner beans tonight, photos will follow of course :)
Good point about the water, though it's been pouring every day here for days on end.


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