Broad been and pea weevil attacks

Broad been and pea weevil attacks

Soon after my broad beans seeds and Kelvedon Wonder peas had been planted and came to life – I found they had become victim to some sort of attack!

The edges of the leaves had been eaten away and there were small holes in toward the center of the leaves.   At first, I thought this was damage caused by birds (particularly pigeons) who may have landed on the plot.

Birds tend to peck and tear the leaves of the plants. And it’s not unheard of  for mice to also have a little nibble. After doing some sleuthing online I’m convinced that my little allotment plot is rife with weevils and flea beetles.  I came across this problem before, but found that my french beans and runner beans were left unharmed – and that was my first clue that it may not have been the birds or the mice.

It turns out the pea and bean weevil is a well known pest causing havoc throughout Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia. Adult weevils survive the winter living off of plant debris and dry leaves and move onto devouring peas, beans and other leguminous plants in the spring and well into the summer months.

No doubt, my search for information about the weevil led me to the RHS website and they’ve said that although damage looks worse than what it generally is – it doesn’t affect the growth of the plant, so every cloud has a silver lining.

Dealing with weevils

  • Cover with a fleece or cloches to help your broad beans and peas outgrow damage.
  • Keep broad beans well watered to encourage growth.
  • Use an organic pesticide that contains pyrethrum (including: Bug Clear Gun for Fruit & Veg, Defenders Veg Bug Killer, ecofective Bug Killer).

Broad bean weevilWeevils also lay eggs toward the end of spring and when the larvae hatch they feed on the nitrogen rich parts of the roots of your plants.

Adult beetles/weevils then come start to come out of the ground in the late summer. Thankfully, the lifespan of a weevil is just a year, so I’ll have to keep the ground well dug and egg free to avoid another family of weevils next year.

If you have experienced weevils in your garden or allotment I’d love to know what tips and tricks you use to combat them – although damage is minimal, it just looks rather dramatic!

 

How to help the bees

The time has come for us to help the bees. For the first time in history this week, seven species of bees have become classified as an endangered specie, and have been added to the US federal list of endangered and threatened species.

The yellow-faced bee (whose official specie names are, Hylaeus anthracinus, Hylaeus longiceps, Hylaeus assimulans, Hylaeus facilis, Hylaeus hilaris, Hylaeus kuakea, and Hylaeus mana) is only native to Hawaii and plays a huge role in crop and plant production for the island and surrounding area.

Their numbers are falling due to dwindling habitats and human development, and in my opinion is something that we shouldn’t take likely over here in Europe, and well, across the world.

Bees are incredibly important for the global eco-system and here’s why.  The next time you sit down for a meal, look at what you’re eating. The chances are, bees have played their part in creating that meal.  As a pollinator,  they’ve ensured the pollination and production of the fruits and vegetables on your plate, and also the food for the animals/meat that we eat.

Sadly, the unsung hero of our time, the humble bumblebee is dying off thanks to pesticides, disease and the loss of habitat.  It’s our duty as living creatures to act now in order to ensure our own survival and to save the bees.

Plant seeds and grow plants that encourage pollinators. 

How to help the bees | RHS Perfect for Pollinators symbolWhen you next buy a packet of seeds look for this symbol.  This symbol means that the plant you’re growing is great for encouraging bees and other pollinators. This is an RHS symbol, and you can read more about pollination, why it’s important and what you can do to help here.  You should also encourage your local authority to plant bee friendly flora in parks and other public spaces.

 

 

Buy local honey

Check out the UK Local Honey Directory to find your local honey supplier.  Opting for local honey means that your honey hasn’t had to travel for miles to get to your kitchen, but also covers the beekeeper’s cost of production. Local honey is also kept as is and not tampered with to pro-long shelf life.  Imported honey may also carry spores and other diseases that may have an impact on the bees in your local area – so always be sure to wash and rinse your empty jars thoroughly.

Behave when you see a bee (beehave!)

That’s not a typo – if you see a bee, don’t kill it. If you see a bee that looks like it’s in trouble, offer it some sugar water. If you see a bee hovering in front of you, stay calm and try not to flap your hands around. Bee friendly and beehave people!

Know your local beekeeper

You may come across swarms of bees who’ve colonized in a place that may not be convenient for you. No need to panic – click here to find your local beekeeper who will find them a nice home.

Become a beekeeper

If you’re toying with the idea of keeping bees, then by all means do it. The British Beekeepers Association has some fantastic resources on how to start looking after your own hive. Click here to learn more about keeping bees and becoming a beekeeper. Collectively more habitats means more bees.

If you simply Google “How to help the bees” there’s a tonne of information out there that you can cherry pick from. This article from the Guardian also has some really helpful pointers on how you can help the bees and encourage the growth in their population.

The science behind slug beer bins

When I say to people that they should use beer to trap slugs and help deter them from eating your plants – I often face a puzzled expression – when you think about it, it does sounds odd when you say it, “use beer to help deter the slugs from eating your produce..”

Making a beer trap is easy and you can read up on that here.

To understand why slugs enjoy beer, is to know hat role they play in the ecosystem. Love them or hate them – slugs are vital because they eat decaying plant material and fungi. Most carnivorous slugs on occasion also eat the dead of their own kind. (Annoyingly, they’re not fussy eaters and tend to eat live plants as well).

The yeast in beer has not only fermented, but continues to ferment. Fermentation is the breakdown of a substance by bacteria or enzymes. Slugs are attracted to the beer because of the breakdown of the yeast and the glorious aroma broken down yeast brings.

This is why slugs are like a moth to the flame when it comes to ale – much like some humans. The video shows just how powerful the scent of beer can be in deterring slugs away from your plants.

You can make an alternative slug bin by mixing a teaspoon of yeast, water, sugar (this helps with the fermentation process) and self-raising flour – this is beneficial as you can ramp up the yeast content and thus increase the scent that’s given off.

Cheers!

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Turning your compost bin

Debris and waste such as weeds, old plants, vegetable peelings and other bio-degradable material adds up at an allotment.

Turning your compost bin will increase the rate of decomposition. Composting is basically carbon (brown material) and nitrogen (green material) breaking each other down.  The best way to think of this chemical reaction is to look at the processes involved in producing fire. Fire needs air to survive, and compost is no different, hence the importance in aerating your pile – and introducing regular bouts of air and oxygen.

Introducing air and oxygen into your compost bin will increase its temperature, speed up decomposition and will eventually reduce the size of the pile – allowing you to add more and more as the season goes on.

Aerating the compost pile could be the difference between decomposition in 10 weeks or 10 months. Failure to turn your compost bin could result in bacteria feeling rather sluggish and this will move your compost pile  into an anaerobic condition. Anaerobic means without air.

Turning your compost bin is a doddle. If you have an open bin like I have, all you have to do is insert a shovel or fork and turn it over – a bit like a salad. You should look to turn the compost bin at least once a month or maybe even sooner depending on the size of your compost area.

Compost is often described as black gold for gardeners and growers because it adds a great deal of good microbes and nutrients into your soil.  You’ll be surprised at how much can compost from your home, and just how easy composting is – here are top 10 composting tips to help you get started.