September Letter from The Ferns chatting about swifts, bees and tomatoes


We have been trying to make our house more bird, bee and butterfly friendly, so to this end I was given a swift box as a birthday present. It was so enormous that we had to get a local building firm – KRM-  to put it up for us.

swift box 2017 a


swift box 2017

We read up about putting this up and it had to have a good space at the front for the swifts to be able to come at it at speed. It also had to be high up from the ground – so this is right below the eves. The box is an RSPB box, so should last for many years. Apparently swifts boxes don’t need cleaning out as they don’t bother much with nesting material , so it should stay there for many years without us having to do anything to it.

We are the Bees & Bee’rs

People who have been reading my blog for some time will  know that I am very keen on the survival of the bumble bee. Since reading Dave Goulson’s A Sting in the Tale (2013), a local man, I have been so interested in bumbles. The Guardian newspaper wrote:

Ketchup. Nothing better illustrates the mess we’ve made of managing the environment on which our survival depends. When you next plop it over your chips, as Dave Goulson points out in his enlightening account of a life studying bumblebees, consider that it was probably made in the Netherlands from tomatoes grown in Spain, pollinated by Turkish bumblebees reared in a factory in Slovakia.

When we think of bees, we imagine stripy creatures producing honey in hives tended by white-cloaked keepers. There are in fact 20,000 bee species. Honeybees – “the anorexic cousins of bumblebees”, as Goulson rather dismissively describes them – have been domesticated for centuries and are drab


Image result for dave goulson bees

Hear him on Radio 4 2014 – a man from Edgmond  – It is so worrying to know that insect life is what does all our pollination from tomatoes to fruit trees, and pesticides can be both  good and bad.

Here are some bees and butterflies  from our garden taken this month:


The white flower is a herb called ‘winter savoury’ which I dried and used in my ‘Mixed Herbs’ jar. The blue flower is borage. I grow a lot of them- well in fact they are all self seeded , so I told have too much input into their lives-  but the bees love them!

(Thanks to one our sons friends who suggested we should be called the Bees & Bee’ers)

 My tomatoes

From July to September we have tomatoes from our greenhouse as part of our breakfasts for B &  B visitors. I think it is lovely to have fresh tomatoes from the greenhouse without any pesticides ( and all pollinated by – you guessed it – the bees). We have a variety of tomatoes from yellow ‘Gardeners Delight’, red Cuban tomatoes which I brought back the seeds of from Cuba two years ago, and another called Gigantico.

We have a greenhouse on a south facing wall; so we have tomatoes from the greenhouse until December time. Great for our visitors and ourselves.

Best wishes and good gardening! Do enjoy the last of the sun!