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Spring, Use your herbs!


IMG_0020Spring is a time when I expect to be busy. Lots of planting on the allotment and weeding and hoeing. Sadly the weeds seem to notice the warmer and longer days before I or the things I plant do! However they do once hoed off or pulled up and composted provide fertility for the soil so all is not lost!

Some plants such as rosemary seem to require next to no maintenance. I just pick of a piece or two when I need it for culinary purposes, the essential oils in the plant surviving the heat of the oven or going into mashed potato – last night I stripped the leaves of a branch and then ground them up to add to the mashed potato and using the herb fresh is so much better than using it dried!

Some herbs such as mint or lemon balm (melissa) will still be under ground at this time of year unless you potted some up to take into the kitchen in the autumn but will soon be making an appearance. These and other herbs, (bay is another evergreen that will be there all year round) are a way of enjoying essential oils without having to buy expensive bottles of them. Using as wide a variety of them as you can is a way to not only improve your general health but also they make your food taste better and improve digestion! A win-win situation.

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And when talking of spring, I always have to think of bees and swarming. The swarm is how the colony as a super organism reproduces when the queen leaves with about half of the flying bees which settle on a branch or fence and then send scouts out to look for somewhere nice to live.

Sadly, today there tends to be a shortage of hollow trees for them so they often set up in chimneys, plastic compost bins and other places where they are not welcome.  I will be collecting swarms, both for myself and for friends who have an excess of housing for them but no bees to put in them. Recently the swarming season has often started as early as mid -April though I have only collected one swarm that early. I have even heard of swarms in March and the changes in climate make this more and more likely.

A swarm, especially a large one such as this produce a lot of wax as they build their nest and this wax is usually very clean so if there is a good food source for the bees at the time, then this is the best wax for making candles, cosmetics etc as it needs little cleaning.

 

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