Gardening news – autumn planting, bees and butterflies

Autumn planting is the big topic in this week’s gardening news!

Gardening news - autumn planting, bees and butterflies

Autumn is the best time to plant many bulbs including tulips

Plan it, plant it this autumn
The ‘Plan it, plant it this autumn’ campaign run by the Horticultural Trade Association is now in its second year. The campaign aims to highlight that autumn is a very busy time in the garden and the best time to plant fruit trees, berries and spring-flowering bulbs. According to the HTA, a large percentage gardeners think that fruit trees and spring bulbs should be planted in spring. Why not take a look at our autumn planting bulb and fruit tree ranges and get a head start? #planitplant

Gardening news - autumn planting, bees and butterflies

Short-haired bumblebee – evidence of nesting and reproducing found in Kent

Short-haired bumblebee shows signs of a comeback
The short-haired bumblebee, declared extinct in the UK in 2000 and reintroduced from Sweden in 2012, . Queen bees were brought over from Sweden last year and, after a 2-week quarantine, released on to the RSPB’s Dungeness reserve in Kent. They struggled to survive, because of the cold, wet summer, so in spring this year more queens were released and have now produced offspring worker bees, which have been spotted carrying pollen. This means that at least one of the queens has started a colony, but the species isn’t out of the woods yet. There is still a long way to go to ensure the safety and viability of the population – according to the RSPB’s website, they are working with “farmers, conservation groups, small holders and other land owners to create flower-rich habitat within the release area of Dungeness and Romney Marsh.”

As we all know, many bee species are in decline for various reasons, including pests, diseases, pesticides and habitat loss. Leaving an area of your garden to grow wild means that you’re doing your bit to help bee and other wildlife populations.

Gardening news - autumn planting, bees and butterflies

Good news for butterflies – the hot summer has helped increase populations

Big Butterfly Count 2013 – the results are in
This year’s Big Butterfly Count attracted record-breaking numbers of participants – over 46,000 people took part, which is 72% more than in 2012! The results show that the hot summer helped butterfly numbers bounce back after such a dismal summer in 2012. A large number of species showed a year-on-year increase in numbers – amazingly, Peacocks were up by over 3,500% and Small Tortoiseshells by 388%! On the other hand, some butterflies that fared well in 2012, such as Meadow Brown, Marbled White, Ringlet and Six-spot Burnet saw their numbers dip this year, possibly caused by reduced survival rates of larvae in winter and spring.

Did you take part this year? Have you noticed more butterflies in your garden? Within the space of 5 minutes on one particularly scorching day in July, my daughter and I spotted three Peacocks, 3 Large Whites and a Comma! Even as late as last Sunday I spotted a Red Admiral and a Comma on my buddleja. We’d love to hear which of your plants butterflies visited most.

You can read the full results on the Big Butterfly Count website.

Gardening news - autumn planting, bees and butterflies

Space farming – growing veg in orbit

Growing vegetables in space
Growing veg in space could soon become a reality, as Nasa prepares to start growing food for astronauts in the next few months as part of the Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE) project. Extensive and long-running tests have been undertaken on Earth, with Nasa claiming that the zero-gravity conditions have no adverse effects on the plants. To start with, romaine lettuce will be grown under LED lamps on the International Space Station. Once they’ve been harvested they’ll be sent back to Earth to test for bacteria. Nasa hopes that this will eventually allow them to grow a number of crops on the ISS, the moon and even Mars, cutting down on the phenomenally high food transport costs and increasing the health and well-being of astronauts. And not forgetting the prediction that, at some point, we will exhaust the Earth’s resources and need to rely on space farming for the survival of our species.

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