Delayed mowing

Delayed mowing will provide nectar and pollen for rapidly-vanishing species. A study showing that the biomass of insects in nature areas has declined by a massive 75pc in less than thirty years in Bavaria has shocked Germany into the gravity of the situation.

Massive loss of biodiversity has arrived in Europe in a big way. At last the powerful farming industry, along with chemical companies supplying devastating toxic-insecticides find themselves seriously challenged for the first time[1].

Clover in the lawn left for bees.

New measures boost organic ways of producing food and reducing toxic-chemicals such as neonics. Wildlife in its broadest sense, including for example bees and butterflies, is being supported at last by government.

But let's be honest about it; reducing herbicides means that farmers will have to make wholesale changes to current practices.

It implies in one sense seeing indigenous weeds as part of the biodiversity; their flowers underpin the insects that pollinate the crops. However they will consume a significant amount of soil-nutrients and light.

This will certainly mean reduced production and higher-costs to the housewife.

Many crops such as lucerne and clover for example can provide flowers that will foster pollinating-insects; but they are usually cut before any nectar is produced.

Delayed mowing for a portion of the pasture, allowing the crops to flower, may marginally reduce production but would certainly support pollinators like honeybees that would greatly increase the yield of sunflowers, fruit-orchards and linseed in adjacent fields, for example.

Blue-berries enjoyed whilst forest bathing.

Many berries, nuts and butternut produce almost no yield without insects, for example. Delayed mowing of a portion of pastures would have immensely positive consequences for biodiversity.

But how do we support the clover-farmer who in delaying mowing is providing food for bees that would pollinate his neighbours' plums and peaches? He may be altruistic but sees no personal benefit.

Clearly something has to change. We are witnessing the mass extinction of the very insects that pollinate much of our food.

Does a "silent spring" lie just around the corner with no bees available to buzz in the avocado trees, the fields of waving flax and the pumpkin-patches that we are so dependent on?

It is estimated that one in four mouthfuls of our food is pollinated by honeybees.

In Europe less than 10pc of agricultural land is managed organically; the ambitious goal is to raise that to around 30 percent. In America less than 1% of farms are grown on the principles of humus and no weedicides. It comes as no surprise thus that the health-status of the people in the United States is astonishingly low.

Clover

On a personal note a root of clover has somehow established itself in our lawn; our first thought was to weed it out. Then we noticed that the bees were foraging amongst the flowers.

It is now time to cut the grass; should we practise delayed mowing of part of the patch?

That is the current feeling and not to discourage the clover as it spreads over our lawn. What is more important? A beautifully managed garden in front of our verandah to show off to our guests, or should we practice what we preach, delay the mowing and allow the invader to take over?

The hens love the newly-mown clover added to their feed. All creatures great and small will be winners, but we for a season have an untidy lawn.

Delayed mowing of clover.

I am glad that I'm lucky not to have a gardener; delayed mowing of this clover contributed to the wonderful harvest of honey this week. After a few days I will cream[2] it.

Creamed clover honey two months later.

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  • Microplastics from our water
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  • What can go in compost?
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