For the first time the United Nations (UN) proclaimed May 20th 2018 world bee day. The bee day, which is organised this year for the second time is meant to remind people of how many plants around the world depend on pollination by bees and many other insects. This is not only important for good functioning eco-systems, but also much of the human diet worldwide depends on it. Allotment gardeners also benefit from bumble bees, bees, overflies and co. This is why they are doing something to prevent the disappearance of insects.
The world bee day goes back to the longstanding initiative of Slovenian beekeepers. Last year 115 of the 139 member states of the United Nations voted in favour, including all European Union member states and major global weights, such as the USA, Canada, China, Russia, India, Brazil and Australia.
Every year on May 20th numerous events and actions remind us now of how many plants worldwide depend on pollination by bees and other insects. This is not only important for good functioning eco-systems, but also much of the human diet depends on it. Many fruit products, especially fruit and seeds (both fruit and vegetables) only grow after a successful fertilisation – due to the pollination of the flowers by insects. Other plants, such as cereal grasses are pollinated by the wind. According to the world council of biological diversity, every year bees and other insects pollinate plants worldwide giving fruit worth up to approximately 500 billion Euros.
Bees in the garden
Already in 2011 was the call of the German allotment garden federation "Bring the bees back to the gardens". At that time, there was the first evidence that the bee populations in Germany were declining. Whether by putting up bee hives or through targeted aids for wild bees – it was necessary to support the endangered animals.
Since then a lot has happened: Beekeeping is actively supported in most allotment gardens both in Germany and all over Europe. Free plots are reserved for bee hives and beekeeper knowledge is passed on by the associations' expert gardening advisers. For the care of honey bees a little special knowledge is needed. The settlement of bumble bees and solitary bees, however, is easy and possible in any garden.
Allotments as insect oases
With special flowering gardens many associations today transform allotment sites into insect oases, supplemented by a very diverse offer of nesting aids. May is the best time to set up such insect hotels. Those who additionally provide a sufficient food supply with native flowering plants and fruit trees have already done a lot for the friends with six legs. Incidentally: honey and wild bees feel very comfortable in cities! Even on the balcony it is possible to support them with forage plants and a small bee hotel (available at the hardwear store or garden centre).
More knowledge and tips on wild and honey bees can be found on the website of the BDG under:
respectively on the websites of the other federations
Author Thomas Wagner, scientific member, BDG
An idea to also increase the visibility of allotment gardening in your country?
In 2017 the Flemish federation Tuinhier surveyed its 2000 volunteers who are active on a local board. This survey resulted in a lot of feedback and ideas. One of the needs we had to address according to our volunteers was 'Visibility'.
In 2018 a poster was created in a working group. This poster was launched in 2019 with our first magazine of the year. We asked all our members to put up the poster in a visible spot.
Afterwards, we asked our local volunteers if they liked the campaign and how they had used the posters. 28 % used the digital version on Facebook. 61% of our local boards put up extra posters in public spaces. 50% actively promoted the campaign with their members. Some made a contest out of it; others added their local contact information or used the same image on their programme and flyers.
In general almost all our boards asked for a repetition or a similar campaign in the following years. The quote we used on the poster means: "garden pleasure? That grows here!"
All our cabbage species can be traced back to the wild cabbage. They originate from the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and the European Atlantic coast. In addition to the wild cabbage, the Greeks already knew two cultivated forms of it in the fourth century before Christ.
If in the past, cabbages were pre-cultivated and then planted out. They are mainly directly sown into the ground today. For home-gardens young plants continue to be very practical. Some types of cabbage are also cultivated in poly-tunnels and glasshouses such as, for example, broccoli.
Young plants are cultivated by sowing in the greenhouse already in February. From mid-May till the end of June, you can sow them directly in the garden. The sowing depth should be approximately one centimetre. Germination takes between 10 to 14 days at 15 to 18 degrees. Planting can take place from the end of April until the middle of July, 7 to 8 weeks after sowing. Later sowings will be planted after 4 to 5 weeks. The planting distances should be between 40 x 40 and 50 x 50 centimetres. Young plants planted directly in the garden should be covered until the end of May. An abundant supply of water and nutrients is important. Broccoli should follow itself only every 3 to 4 years. An unsuitable crop rotation also exists with cucumbers, pumpkins and other cruciferous vegetables. The harvest extends from early June until October, when the inflorescence has budded. The main shoot is cut off about 10 to 15 centimetres below the flower. About 18 days later the side shoots can also be cut out. Autumn harvest is less endangered by premature shooting. The culture period lasts between 12 and 14 weeks.
Broccoli has a very high requirement in nitrogen-potassium and phosphor. Fertilisation is administered with one soil fertilisation and two head fertilisations corresponding each to one third of the total fertiliser requirement.
Ethylene secretions from other vegetables and fruit reduce broccoli storage time. If you store broccoli, the plant will soon flower. When buying broccoli pay attention that they have dark green and solid roses. Broccoli lasts longer if you place chipped ice on the florets.
Dr. G. Bedlan
The way to the "green new deal"
It is in fact a bitter irony – on one hand gardening on a plot is very much in vogue. On the other hand rising real estate prices and the continued influx into the cities mean that allotment sites are increasingly threatened of being overbuilt. The allotment gardeners seem to be helpless compared to the interest in profits of the real estate industry. What the allotment gardeners can do in order to react to that threat was explained by the sociologist Dr. Fritz Reusswig from the Potsdam institute for climate impact research during a meeting of various regional federations in Bremen.
Just how important the topic is was made clear by Reusswig right from the beginning: Since 2011 the number of allotment gardens has been dropping continuously and only 18% of all the sites are permanently protected by development plans. Especially in cities with increasing densification, the sites are threatened by overbuilding – according to the first results of the study, "allotments in transition" by the federal institute for building, urban and space planning (BBSR).
In this context it has to be mentioned that allotment gardening is changing: organic gardening is gaining in importance (according to the study 85% of all sites are laid out in a nature friendly way), there are increasingly new garden forms (community gardens) and new groups asking for allotments, such as families with children (85%), couples after the family phase (42%) and families with migration background (72%), said Reusswig.
How to act
Especially in the metropolitan areas the demand for allotments is increasing. In order to meet this demand and to react to the competition for available areas, the practical approaches used up to now are mainly the re-densification in the stock (the division of gardens), the allocation of unsaved grounds or the creation of other gardening forms on allotment sites and common use.
However, these approaches are not transferable to all allotment sites. It is, therefore, important to be actively involved in urban planning. In the medium term, allotment gardeners have to promote the fact that the negative ecological consequences of a building development have to be taken into account in the city budget so that in the end there will be no "black", but a "green zero".
Decisive for reaching this aim is that the federations cooperate in scientific studies. The sociologist also recommends to form alliances, especially with "urban gardening", projects that are an adequate offer for this.
Reusswig proposes at the end a "green new deal". The allotment gardeners will get a permanent protection of their sites and they will assume social and ecological services.
With regard to the eco-system services of the allotment gardens, climate change is an opportunity for the allotment gardeners. Climate change will increase the importance of greenery in the city. This is not only a question of ecological, but also of social justice, since it is precisely the socially weaker people who have the least access to urban greenery and its relief functions. And so the threat could become a path to salvation. Consequently, the allotment gardeners are not helpless – but up to a "green new deal" it is still a long way, which they have to approach in the most active way possible.
This is so for all the allotment gardeners in Germany and all over Europe
Verlag W. Wächter
Adapted and completed by M. WEIRICH, Office International du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux
On April 7th, 2019 320 delegates and associative representatives met in Roodt-Syre for their annual congress.
Romain Schneider, minister for agriculture, Carole Dieschbourg, minister for environmental protection as well as many guests and representatives from administration departments and partner organisations, as well as Malou Weirich, secretary general of the International Office du Coin de Terre et des Jardins Familiaux, were present.
After the amendment of the statutes last year, President Martine Mergen informed that they will now deal with the problematic concerning the relationship between the associations and their members on one hand and the relations between the associations and the authorities on the other hand. This is a topic also currently dealt with on international level. She additionally informed on the federation's plans to build a new office building with lecture/education rooms and a surrounding garden area. Hopefully the building can be inaugurated at the occasion of the LUGA2023 (Luxembourgish horticultural exhibition)
The congress lecture dealt with the subject: "Biodiversity in our gardens – a Luxembourgish study". This study joins similar studies already made in Austria and Germany.