On warm days in autumn and winter, there are thousands of dancing flies or winter gnats (vintermygg) particularly in the windows. Last week all the windows downstairs had swarms of these dancing up and down and were swarming all over the garden too. They are fun to watch and wonder why and how these are active in such low temperatures when most other insects are hibernating or overwintering as larvae or eggs. They can even be seen on warm winter days on the snow. These are flies in the Trichoceridae family (we have 15 species in Norway) and provide morsels of protein in winter for the birds in the garden! The larvae feed on decaying plant material, rotten wood and fungi…there’s plenty of that here! An important component of my food forest garden.
Who needs Netflix when all the entertainment you’d ever need is in the garden? Here is a direct comparison of male and female long hoverflies (Sphaerophoria scripta), stor kulehaleflue in Norwegian, a common species in the garden.
Yesterday, I registered red-tailed bee / steinhumle (Bombus lapidarius) for the first time at the community garden (Væres Venner), the first time in this part of Trondheim. This is a common species in the city and is probably the commonest bumblebee in the Allium garden at the botanical gardens. Today, I saw this species for the first time in my own garden, the first record in this area. It was on Allium pskemense, probably the most popular plant in my garden for bumblebees. In the second video you can see both the white-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum; lys jordhumle) and tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum; trehumle). Please correct me if I’m wrong!
Making nettle water (fertiliser) this afternoon and I checked if there were any butterfly / moth larvae under the leaves, but I missed one and this beauty floated to the surface along with some tiny bugs. It’s the larva of the Comma butterfly (Hvit C). I moved the larva back onto a nettle plant…
With only a few inflorescences left on my Buddleja plants, the red admiral and painted lady (tistelsommerfugl) butterflies are transferring their attentions to other flowers in the garden, notably and most importantly Eupatorum cannabinum (hemp agrimony / hjortetrøst, seed of which came original from the banks of the River Itchen in Hampshire). Other flowers of choice at the moment are Anise hyssop (Agastache), Monarda and Marigold.
In the first video, the Red Admiral defends its hemp agrimony flower against a bumblebee!
Before my D.A. (Dandelion Awakening) I would religiously remove and cut down as many dandelions as I could, but nowadays my garden perennial beds are full of them. As I’ve written before, dandelions have become probably my most important vegetable in the winter months. I dig up the roots from my garden beds, where I’ve deliberately let them grow, in the autumn, store in my cellar and force them as I need them in cooler rooms in the house. These wild dandelions grow themselves, the only energy I use on them is in the digging and moving to store! A perfect vegetable! There are 11 pages in my book Around the World in 80 plants about the multitude of food uses for dandelions and how you can make a whole meal of them and cycle home after the meal on tyres made of dandelion rubber! But there’s so much more to this miracle plant and I’m sure you’ve read of its many medicinal properties including it being an anti-cancer powerhouse! Sat in the garden, a Eurasian Siskin (grønnsisik) just landed on a dandelion head showing it’s also an important plant for birds in addition to bees, beetles and other insects! Make sure you leave a few dandelions to seed and you may also experience a magical moment like this!
There’s been a major arrival of diamondback moths (kålmøll) here since yesterday and there are hundreds of this major Brassica pest in the garden today! I am thankfully only growing perennial kales (Brassica oleracea) and resistent sea kale (Crambe maritima) this year, both of which are already close to maximum yield and unlikely to be severely affected by the moth. This also means I don’t need to use any form of protection (horticultural fleece / fiberduk) which is probably a major source of agricultural microplastics. Problem solved!
My first butterfly of the year has emerged in the garden, a small tortoiseshell (neslesommerfugl), seen on one of the last winter aconites (vinterblom). I was surprised to see that someone saw a red admiral butterfly yesterday in Steinkjer, 75 km north of here. This must surely be an individual that has overwintered…the furthest north this has happened as far as I can see!
Perennial vegetables, Edimentals (plants that are edible and ornamental) and other goings on in The Edible Garden