I first came across the term ‘Chop and Drop’ in Geoff Lawton’s Establishing a Food Forest DVD. I reviewed the DVD here. Chop and Drop describes the actions of cutting branch wood from fast growing trees ‘nurse’ trees, and then using that wood to feed soil fungi, in order to help the production trees, planted amongst them. Chop and Drop is linked to the use of a more dense tree planting, often fast growing and nitrogen fixing, with many of these trees not destined to remain until maturity. Continue reading
Earliest Flowering Willow Trial
Last year I published a post about My Earliest Flowering Willow, and was surprised to see that the willow that flowered earliest for my was a hybrid called ‘Lapin’. I was up in the Forest Garden again today, ‘weeping’ at the damage done to my willows by rabbits, and noticed that again, the earliest flowering willow variety was ‘Lapin’. This was one of the three varieties that I had obtained from the National Willow Collection, at Rothamsted Research.
Two years ago I was sent some willow cuttings from the research centre at Rothampstead, who keep the National willow collection. The cuttings were for me to use to see which were the earliest flowering willows. My interest is early bee forage. I have a lot of violet willow (Salix daphnoides), which is my earliest flowering willow and every year I’m relieved when I see my bees foraging on it, as I know that their lean period is over. From then on, there is a steady flow of nectar until early Summer, and only the weather.
Earlier this week I spent a few hours processing firewood with hand tools. Unlike when using a chainsaw, the hand tools allow time for thinking, and this post is partly about the firewood, and partly about the thoughts that went with the activity.
I always relax a little when my willow starts to flower, as it marks the beginning of decent quantities of nectar and pollen for my bees. I have quite a few varieties of willow, and the first to flower here is Salix daphnoides, the violet willow. Not only does it flower early, but the shoots are the colour of damsons, and with the same ‘bloom’. Last year, my willow didn’t start to produce until much later in the month, probably because we had bad weather quite late. The two links here are to articles that I wrote at the time. Busy Bees. Willow Pollen.
This year, I noticed that there were a few catkins that had started to change from white to yellow two days ago, but no sign of any bees. The picture below shows the first of the catkins as it changes.
The silver hairs are what the catkin is like before it starts to produce, and the yellow bits are the individual flowers within the catkin. Each flower produces nectar and pollen, but do not appear to be open yet.