Well known amongst gardeners, it comes back every spring to feast on the aphids that parasitize our runner beans, tomatoes and even our broad beans. Ladybirds are familiar, but how much do we really know about them?
For example, did you know that this insect from the Coleoptera family lays clusters of around a hundred dark yellow eggs on the backs of leaves? Larvae are born from them, which shed their skin several times and – about 20 days later – turn into what is called an imago, which is its final form. It lives for around a year, perhaps more if those born in late spring can manage to hide somewhere to protect them from winter.
Ladybirds are essentially carnivorous. Even as larvae, their main menu is aphids, which they consume at a rate of around 100 a day. As an adult, the creature is just as voracious and is estimated to consume around 150 aphids a day but, real gastronomes, they don't turn their noses up at acarids and cochineals. So, they are true gardeners' helpers. Therefore it is a big mistake to use chemicals to get rid of aphids, as you will also get rid of the ladybirds. The consequence of this, as counter effect i.e. the lacking of ladybirds is that you will then never be able to stop using chemicals. It is better to let nature do its work and support having these insects in our gardens. You can do this by making them shelters made of twigs, small heaps of straw or dead leaves, a pile of flat stones or even to the extreme by installing "insect houses" sold in garden centres, which aren't deep enough to be efficient and are always more for aesthetic purposes (if you want to make one, it is better to use several planks of wood spaced 5mm apart). The important thing is that they can find a safe shelter to pass the winter; sheltered from frost, heavy rain and birds that hunt them. And if they find a shelter in your garden shed or garage, don't move them: they are inoffensive and will be ready to reproduce at the start of spring. They are insurance for a year without aphids.
It is generally thought that ladybirds are that small red insect with 7 black dots that used to be called "God's [little] cow". In fact, what is little known is that there are many types of ladybird: red, yellow, black, with two dots, 12, 17, and even 24 dots.
In around 1870 there were 36 species in Europe but pesticides, the loss of hedgerows, and intensive farming have meant that many of them have disappeared. In 1960 there were only 16 species. Today many are extinct. A fatal blow to the surviving species in the 1980s was the introduction of the Asian ladybird, an exotic species bred and sold to fight aphids in an environmentally-friendly (!) way. There are many types in an array of colours, but not always easy to distinguish from their European cousins. In fact, they are bigger, more voracious and even more prolific than our local species; they quickly acclimatised and made a large number of our traditional species disappear. They became the most widespread species of ladybird here; with an annoying tendency to invade our houses at the start of winter.
A particular peculiarity about the Asian ladybird: it bites! It doesn't do any harm, as the skin on our fingers is too thick for its little mandibles. But it's a surprise!
The Asian ladybird lives up to its name as the "aphid ogre"! But did our European species have really to pay the price of this invasion and see a shortage happen?
This is a question that concerns specialists and entomologists. For the majority of gardeners, a ladybird is a ladybird, and given that it gets rid of our aphids, we aren't too bothered about where it comes from.
Jardin Familial de France no. 502/2017
After 2 years of hard work, we officially inaugurated the first Ecologic Garden Label on the allotment site "De Roshaag" in Peer on 30th September 2017.
What is the Ecological Garden Label?
It is a label awarded to an exemplary allotment garden site for ecological gardening and behaviour.
It is first a way to reward active boards for the work and effort they put in an allotment garden. A second goal is to innovate and modernize older sites.
The sites can earn 4 stars, each star representing a certain topic:
1. Park design
3. Equipment/ facility
4. Awareness/ sensitization
"De Roshaag" allotment site received 4 stars
1) Two years ago the site existed for little more than a year. However, a lot of work had still to be done as far as its design was concerned. After a first evaluation the jury listed a couple of advices. So a demo-garden, extra storage room, layers in vegetation inside and around the park were realised. In this process the allotment gardeners gave extra attention to the participation of gardeners, neighbours and partners.
2) For park management, the site scored with the following elements: The paths are permeable for water; the use of green manures that hold the moisture and nutrients in the ground is stimulated. The weeding happens manually and is kept to a minimum by using green manures and anti-rooting membranes. To control diseases and plagues the demo-garden is used to experiment with biological controls, new vegetables and old species to find stronger plants. To prevent over fertilisation a soil sample is taken in every garden every 3 years. Solar energy is used for the compost toilet and the lights inside the cabin. The garden cabin has a planted green-roof.
3) From the start of this project the local board and the local government chose to use durable equipment and materials. They introduced indigenous plants and removed invasive species. To attract and sustain natural enemies and other useful animals in the garden a hedgehog and bee hotel were built. Piles of branches and leaves were spread throughout the park.
4) The park is open for everyone. The local board actively engages other civilians to participate and cooperates with other partners. Schools visit the project to learn about gardening and composting. The gardeners learn from each other during informal happenings and the demo-garden.
Vzw Tuinhier thanks all partners in this project for their support and guidance during these two years. Special thanks go to our local board and the local government of Peer for their unconditional input and effort in this project.
In the future we are planning to review this project and probably add social and innovative components. The aim is to reward and encourage more projects to join our garden label.
Daan Van de Vijver
At the occasion of its 100th anniversary celebration and the international congress in Vienna, the central Austrian allotment federation successfully cooperated with a production company. The idea for an internet platform "KleingartenTV" (allotment TV) originated from this cooperation.
"KleingartenTV" serves as an information and communication platform. The central Austrian allotment federation's aim is to strengthen the community spirit of the allotment gardeners and to provide them with an opportunity to get more easily in touch with each other. Additionally, the members can be informed promptly about important topics. Thus, the internet platform "Kleingartentv.at" is a perfect complement to the monthly magazine of the federation "Kleingärtner", the homepage "www.kleingaertner.at" and the presentation in various social media.
After a month of testing, the platform went online on September 1st, 2017 for all Austrian allotment gardeners and subscribers to the magazine. During the first weeks, more than 700 members registered on the platform. Currently 25 videos are available. Every 1-2 days a new contribution is going to be inserted.
Entertainment and information
The contributions on "kleingartentv.at" are divided into several categories. Under "Garden-News" you can find videos with tips, recipes, information from the central federation and a glance behind the scenes of the allotment movement. The category "Mein Garten" focuses on the inhabitants of the allotment gardens. Here their hobbies and special features are presented. The allotment associations are presented in the category "Garten Doku". In addition, you find here contributions on the long history of the Austrian allotment movement. Impressions from events and anniversaries are gathered in the category "Garten Fest" (Garden festivals).
In addition to the videos produced by the central federation, users have the opportunity to share their own contributions, videos and pictures with the other users.
Virtual associative house
The virtual "Vereinshaus" (associative home) is an Online-Community in which the allotment gardeners can connect with each other. Each user can create an individual profile. Similarly to what happens on other social media platforms, videos and photos can be shared. Furthermore, members can meet in self created interest groups. The user can add "Friends", chat and write messages.
In this way the Austrian allotment gardeners are given the opportunity to get closer, swap ideas according to their interests and support each other.
VIDEO (German) https://youtu.be/TyMiSjKaHfs
"Launched in 2007 to foster citizen participation and promote democracy at the level closest to the citizens, the European Local Democracy Week (ELDW) celebrates its 10th anniversary this year – officially between 9 and 15 October 2017. On this special occasion, local and regional authorities of Europe and their associations are encouraged to organise participatory events to celebrate local democracy, as a shared value across the European continent.
More than 1000 local authorities and their associations from the 47 Council of Europe member states and beyond have participated in this pan-European voluntary initiative since its creation, having organised a large variety of activities to meet and engage with their citizens…….."
The subject for 2017 is: Citizen participation, consultation and commitment: for a thriving local democracy.
The Office International du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux took part in 2015 and 2016. Again this Year it chose 3 meriting examples, the description of which you can read below.
30 years of friendship between the allotment garden federations from the region of Poznan (P) and Westphalia-Lippe (D)
On August 19th 1987 the presidents of the German and Polish allotment garden federations signed a friendship treaty. Already some weeks later, from 20th until 26th September 1987, the historical meeting between the allotment gardeners from the province of Poznan and the national federation of Westphalia and Lippe took place. From this start a friendship developed, the 30th anniversary of which we are celebrating this year. Following an invitation of our Polish friends, a delegation of our national federation, under the leadership of President Wilhelm Spieß, visited the province of Great Poland/Poznan from 4th until 9th September, 2017.
Our host commemorated this special anniversary with a very varied program. Receptions at the town halls in Śrem, Czerwonak and Poznań were part of the program as well as visits of allotment sites. The historical highlight was the visit of the allotment site Przyłuskiego in Poznan, site on which the delegation from Westphalia-Lippe, first entered allotment garden ground on September 1987.
What have we realised together all over these years? What are the results of this partnership? Here some examples:
In 2012 the allotment gardeners from Poznan and Westphalia-Lippe signed a resolution together concerning the protection of allotment garden land and transmitted it to the Sejmmarschall.
Receptions organised by the mayors of the region of Poznan have always been more than simple exchanges of greetings. We have very often discussed with the communal politicians and representatives from authorities the missions of the communes as far as the local allotment garden movement is concerned.
Also, research and scientific missions have dealt with the allotment movement; especially with the aspects concerning town planning and ecology. Comparative research studies concerning the allotment movement in Poland and Germany are finally also a result of an active partnership with mutual visits including students and young scientists.
The common closing evening and the participation in the Thanksgiving celebrations were certainly unique highlights of our journey. As an expression of our relatedness yesterday, today and in the future, president Wilhelm Spieß and director Werner Heidemann presented the Polish allotment gardeners on behalf of the German delegation with two sheep of the herd of the Westphalian artist and 'blue shepherd' Rainer Bonk. The blue of the sheep represents the blue of the European flag. And as each one of us is unique and important, he can, however, only be strong in a union. That is the message of the blue sheep farming.
A third blue sheep grazes in front of the town hall of the town of Poznan. They all graze peacefully together.
Zdzislaw Sliwa, chairman of the Poznan federation gave a certificate to our chairman Wilhelm Spieß commemorating the 30th anniversary of our partnership.
Wherever we went, we were received with friendship and an open heart. This anniversary represents for us a thank you, a recognition and a stimulation. A thank you goes to those of you who laid down the foundation stone of this partnership and friendship. Recognition is due to all our friends in Poland and Germany who with hands and hearts contributed to the understanding and to the consolidation of this partnership and friendship.
We hope that motivation and incentive will grow out of this anniversary for the future, because partnership and friendship which are an important part of the understanding between people need care, discussions and common activities.
Werner Heidemann, director of the national federation of allotment gardeners from Westfalen-Lippe
The entire article can be read in the Fachberater Nr. 04/2017.