AAA newsletter Archive

May 11th 2009

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, May 11, 2009 10:41 AM
Subject: AAA Web-site Newsletter (May 11th 2009)
Hello Fellow Gardening Sirs & Mesdames,
Some of the more observant and frequent visitors amongst you will have noticed that there's a new subject on the main page of our web-site, headed "Sign the petition to stop the death of Bees". So what's that all about you ask? 
The new subject on the front page of the site deals with a real full-blown crisis that has erupted as the numbers of bees in this country has declined by up to 30% over the last two years. This coincides with the collapse of bee-hive colonies across the globe, more especially the USA and Europe. It has been given the label of CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder). CCD is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a bee-hive colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, the term colony collapse disorder was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western Honey Bee colonies in North America in late 2006. European bee-keepers observed similar phenomena in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, and initial reports have also come in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a lesser degree. Possible cases of CCD have also been reported in Taiwan since April 2007. Aside from fundamental concerns about the survival of bee species, colony collapse is economically significant because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees. From a gardener's point of view this is disastrous because bees are the No. 1 pollinating machine on our allotments. No bees = no crops!
Now I'm quite cynical about human global warming effect predictions, and other apocalyptical pronouncements that panic people and children into thinking they're going to fry, drown or get wiped out by some nasty, recently discovered, killer chemical in the family shampoo, or some other mad doomsday scenario! I'm a pragmatist & not a natural, fearful "tree-hugger". I'm not easily convinced. The sea alone gives off methane gas in such huge quantities that it makes our puny contribution pale into insignificance. Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than Co2. Our collective input as humans is in the region of 0.28%, if water vapour is taken into account - about 5.53% if not [check some facts]. The melting of the North Pole ice-cap won't drown us because it's ice floating on water, and if melted or solid it occupies the same mass displacement as water (try melting some ice cubes in a glass of water & observe the level of the water after they've melted). It's only a few centuries since we've officially come out of a mini ice-age. The Medieval Warm Period (MWP) or Medieval Climate Optimum was a time of warm climate in the North Atlantic region, lasting from about the tenth century to about the fourteenth century. It was followed by the a cooler period in the North Atlantic termed as the Little Ice Age. It happens NATURALLY friends - it's cyclical, and besides, we haven't had the technology to monitor it for long enough to be sure of our conclusions. But enough about my cynicism. On the other hand, the Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder IS a REAL worry and IS a potential food wipe-out threat. 
The finger of blame for bee colony collapse is increasingly pointing at an insecticide culprit - NEONICOTINOIDS. To find out more please read up on the subject on our Web-site. You'll also have the opportunity to link to a 10 Downing St. on-line petition site that's calling on the UK government to ban the use of these systemic insecticides (as some countries already have). The more eagle-eyed visitors to our Web-site will also have noticed that you have a further opportunity to sign the petition on-line as you leave our Web-site (assuming that you have pop-up blockers disabled for our site in your internet browsing software!)
Coupling the reference on the (public) front page of the AAA site to CCD problems, there is also a new section in the Members Area of the site - with a reddish button you can't miss in the left-hand navigation menu of the Members Pages. This page goes into details about the unwitting use of neonicotinoids by gardeners. To view that page now click on this button:
You'll need to login with your registered member's login data & password for this page. If you have not yet registered here's a link for you to do so now (it's free and open to anyone- not just AAA plot-holders) :

More new sections
This new section deals with organic & inorganic (chemical) fertilizers. It also deals with the mysteries of soil pH and how your soil pH has a direct bearing on your plant health and crop successes. Did you know, for instance, that the prevalence of "weeds" such as sorrel, creeping buttercup, nettle, dock and mares tail are all signs your soil is becoming, or is too acid? Anyone noticed how prone our allotments at Cae Ffynnon Wn are to some of the above plants - especially the buttercups? Time to check out the FERTILIZERS section perhaps?!
Also unravelled in this section are the mysteries of lime & it's uses in our allotments.
Did you also know that according to a 32- year study performed in Sweden, the best thing about organic fertilizer is that it increased the yield rate of crops by 15%!? The inorganic fertilizer only produced a 50% yield rate compared to the organic producing a phenomenal 65% yield rate.
All interesting stuff.
PESTS fact files
As promised in the last AAA Web-site Newsletter a new section has now been opened specifically for this subject. Again this section can be found by browsing down the navigation menu on the left hand side of your Member's Pages. The pests & diseases listed are the main protagonists on our allotments. More will follow in the future. Also check out the "Disease Identifier" link - if you want an interactive hand in finding out what ails your plants.
Monthly To Dos
An apology that the May "To Do" list was a little late appearing this month - unforeseen circumstances I'm afraid, I was out of circulation for a short while, but it's there for you now.

Of interest
For those who visit the "EVENTS" section in the Members Area you'll notice a popular event coming up next Saturday at the Royal Welsh Showground. For those who haven't visited the Events Section of our Web-site, or who have missed it - here are the details:
2009 Smallholder & Garden Festival
When:                Sat, 16 May, 09:00 Sun, 17 May, 10:00
Where:               Royal Welsh Showground, Llanelwedd (map)
Description:      The Festival enjoys a reputation of having a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, creating something very different in concept to the Royal Welsh Show in July.
A nice little break for the day - take the children/ grandchildren and sow the seeds of interest in gardening for the next generation!
I'm feeling increasingly isolated with my diary. It seems that the initial surge of interest in opening and keeping a diary on-line has waned amongst the initial diarists! Either you have not been doing anything of interest (unlikely) or,  the task of maintaining a diary has slipped down your priorities list. It's not mandatory of course, but from the feed-back I get the joy is in the reading of these diaries by others, so guess who's missing out? On a more selfish note, it's a great way of keeping track of your own little seasonal adventures for personal viewing in the future.
It's difficult to remember to take a camera down to the allotment (I even forget more basic necessities like seeds or a specific tool - that's why I permanently keep most of them in the car!). However if you DO remember to take some snaps - don't forget to donate them for our "PHOTOS" page.
And finally, our old friend (or enemy - whichever way you look at it) the weather. According to the 7 Day Gardening Forecast for Aberaeron, we were in for a sharp fall in night-time temperatures over the weekend. At one point the min. temperature expected on Saturday night/ Sunday morning was 2c and - wait for it - it would feel like minus 11c!!! (Met. Office predictions not mine!) Never cast a clout till May . . . etc. So care is still needed for those more delicate plants.
To check what the weather will be like for your gardening activities over the next 7 days check out this icon on our web-site (or if you're feeling lazy click on it here! :-)
That's all for now Folks . . . .
Take Care & Happy Allotmenteering - till the next time -
All the Best, 
AAA Webmaster


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