Monthly Archives: June 2014

Potato Epicure

The world of potatoes is remarkably diverse, although this might not be all that evident from the shelves of the supermarket or greengrocer. According to the International Potato Center – yes, there really is such a thing – there are more than 4500 varieties growing in the Andes, the ancestral home of the potato. The British Potato Variety Database,, maintained by the Potato Council lists some 250 varieties. This database is a useful source of information, including on the pest and disease resistance, where known, of different varieties. Continue reading

Newly mated queen is doing well

Some weeks ago we dealt with a colony with some aggressive tendencies by removing the queen. One week later we went through the hive carefully and removed all of the queen cells. We checked again a few days later to be certain that no queen cells remained. By doing this, we prevented the bees from making a replacement queen. We then introduced a frame with eggs and young larvae from a donor colony, from which, it was hoped, they would make a replacement. This week we inspected the colony for the first time. Continue reading

When is a Peche de Vigne not a Peche de Vigne?

A couple of years ago we bought a young peach tree, a Peche de Vigne, from Dobies and planted it in the polytunnel. The first tree was damaged and a replacement was sent later in the year. I have been really looking forward to trying the fruit and this year it bore for the first time. We have been eating the fruit for the last few weeks, and took the final, now rather overripe example, today. The peaches were on the small side, a fairly smooth skin, covered with a pleasant crimson flushing that covered most of the fruit. The flesh was white, adhered to the stone, and was of reasonable flavour, better than supermarket fare but by no means exceptional for a garden fruit. The fruit was not the equal of our glasshouse specimens of Early Rivers and Bellegarde. Continue reading

Missing queen

Once again there is another beekeeping disappointment to report. In my last post, I mentioned that we had a colony with slightly aggressive tendencies and had forced them to replace the queen with some larvae from a frame provided by another colony of very nice bees. Hopefully, offspring from the first crossing will still retain their gentle characteristics. We did a similar thing with another small colony to give us a further queen should it be needed. When we recently checked the donor hive, though, we could not find the queen, nor any sign of eggs. It is not clear what might have happened. There is always a possibility of damaging the queen by accident when inspecting a hive although we were very careful and have not spotted her on any of the recent occasions, although she had clearly been there, given the presence of copious quantities of eggs and young larvae. There were several supersedure cells – those queen cells generally built on the face of the comb – so we are hopeful of a successful replacement. The loss of the original queen, though, is a rather disappointing.

Recent sowing and planting

The blog has been rather slow lately, with nearly one month since my last post. Partly, at least, one must blame this lazy blogger. In my defence, we have been busy with various other things, and the garden has reached that maintenance phase where the mad rush of propagating and planting out slows down to a more modest workload. Most of the beds are now full, with crops for summer and autumn use as well as many to go through the winter or put into storage. It has also been hot lately, and the partly walled vegetable plot can become unbearably hot to work in the summer, not to mention the glasshouses and polytunnel, so we tend to reduce our activities at this time of year. Continue reading