When you stand staring at the bottom of your pear tree for some minutes wondering why the leaves growing out the bottom aren’t the same as the leaves on the rest of the tree. Is it a mutant? Something wrong with the soil? Something else growing there?
This plant is Solanum nigra, black nightshade. Unlike deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), this plant is edible and is widely used as fodder.
Whenever we put manure down in the soil these guys invariably pop up – obviously the horses/sheep/cows that make the manure have been tucking in.
According to the experts you can make a fairly tasty jam with the berries, but they can make you sick if you eat them unripe. Recipes often call for boiling and re-boiling the leaves, and discarding the water in between. Seems like too much trouble to me, so up they come.
The bees that make honey are European. Australia has over 1,700 species of bees, most of which don’t live in a hive and don’t make honey. They’re still great pollinators, though, and will happily coexist next to their European cousins.
Most Australian bees are solitary. This means that if you want to attract them to the garden, they need somewhere to live that is private. People make “bee hotels” using bamboo or by drilling wood or sticks with narrow, deep holes. The bees take up residence in them and then lay their eggs nearby.
We’ll get a few bee hives eventually (for honey), but for the moment a bee hotel is a quick and easy thing to make. We cut some logs, drill holes in them, and then make a frame out of some leftover ply.
The bees need a little overhang on the roof, to keep the logs nice and dry.
We still have some cedar weatherboards hanging around too. We only need to use one to completely clad the hotel.
A spot of weather-proofing linseed oil and it’s all done!
The bees like their hotel up off the ground so we’ll mount it on a post.