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Showing posts from December, 2015

The hows, whys and wheres of composting…

By Alida Robey
I have had some intriguing responses to my previous post on composting – most commonly “Hurry up and tell us how to do it!” ; so without further delay, I give you the why, where and (most importantly) how of composting....

Why compost? There is so much more to composting than simply meeting our own personal needs.  For me, the global urgency is such that I would have us label all shop bought fruit and veg: WARNING: Not composting will lead to the depletion of our soils! Here's why:
Compost helps regenerate soils and improve soil structure Current agricultural practices suck nutrient out of the soil. The resultant produce has less nutritious value than in previous generations, [1] meaning we are needing to eat more to get the same nutritional benefits. [2] Commercial fertilisers are designed to promote maximum growth, not necessarily superior nutrient content of the fruit and vegetables produced. Nor do these fertilisers benefit  soil structure and health. The fibre o…

Bristol is buzzing, how the city is helping pollinators

By Helen Roberts
There has been a substantial amount of press coverage recently on the plight of our pollinators. They are now less abundant and widespread than they were in the 1950s. A number of threats are responsible, including habitat loss, disease, extreme weather, climate change and pesticide use.
There is not one smoking gun among these threats, but rather the combination that has endangered some species in the UK. Loss of wild flower rich habitat (due to intensive agriculture, industrialisation and urbanisation) escalates the effect of disease, extreme weather, climate change and pesticide use. Without food or shelter, pollinators are more vulnerable.
Whilst visiting the University of Bristol Botanic Garden this autumn, I noticed the abundance of pollinators busily visiting many different flowers from the orchid look-a-like flower of Impatiens tinctoria to the swathes of Rudbeckia sp. and Verbena bonariensis. This year saw the 6th year of the University of Bristol Botanic Ga…

Undergraduates get their first glimpse at the garden

By Alida Robey I've been promising myself a visit to the University of Bristol Botanic Garden since I arrived in Bristol four years ago. Life has intervened. Yet when the opportunity came to join the new intake of students from the University on their first practical of their 3 year undergraduate degree, I leapt at the chance. 
Once there, the thrill of the plants, garden, stories and mysteries within, were hard to resist!  I joined the briefing given by the Garden's curator, Nick Wray, as he introduced the day's second group of 70 students (over 250 students attended the practical over two days) to their PhD student demonstrators - there to inspire the undergraduates about different aspects of the gardens.  
An introduction to the day These biology and zoology students were visiting the garden as part of their ‘Diversity of Life’ module - taking a first-hand look at some of the adaptations that have enabled plants to diversify into the more than 400,000 species that exi…