The perfect time to sow a Bee friendly garden.

Filling our gardens with masses of flowers to enjoy in the flower beds and to cut for inside is so rewarding, and not only that, it invites bees and many other insects to come and enjoy the space too!

Now is the prime time to sow seeds; higher light levels and hopefully warmer weather is on our side and will help to produce strong healthy plants. But before you dash out and start gardening, here are a few eco- tips to inject some sustainability.

Seeds trays and modules – re- use and recycle is the best mantra, and anything goes – depending on the type of seeds and the conditions they prefer. Recycling old yoghurt pots or egg boxes are great for small sowings, but just remember to put in a few drainage holes. If you are going shopping, then half-size bamboo seed trays are ideal or biodegradable modules. Sweet peas and beans like long root systems so rather than buy root trainers, use the inside tubes of loo rolls instead.

Compost – seed compost is the best for starting off most seeds, due to its fine grade - I’m so glad to see peat free alternatives are now available, and with added ingredients such as vermiculite, it means they are ready to go and you are not having to mess about with your own recipes. Later, when you are pricking seedlings out, you can use multi- purpose (peat free again!) or your own homemade versions.

Labels - a lovely excuse to get creative and go plastic free - lollipop sticks, wine corks and pebbles to name a few! but if you do have a stack of plastic labels already, then remember they do last for years, so writing in pencil for inside use means you can reuse them indefinitely.

Direct sowing – hardy annuals can be sown straight into the garden and in general we do have good loamy soil in this area. Make sure the soil is a fine tilth and seeds are well spaced out and protected, not only from slugs and snails - my cat loves sunbathing in the just the right place! I often have a few back up plants in case there is a disaster!

Here is a list of bee friendly annuals you might want to try: Borage, Calendula, Cornflowers, Cosmos, Love-in-a-Mist, Marigold, Nasturtium, Californian Poppy, Sunflower

Originally published in Focus magazine

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