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Nitrogen Fixation


Dandelion adding to nitrogen fixation
Dandelion adding to nitrogen fixation

Companion plants don't just keep the bugs away, they can fulfill a role preparing the soil for their neighbours. Crop rotation can benefit enormously from this.






Nitrogen Fixation

The roots of several plant families including runner beans and clover have developed an association with nitrogen fixing bacteria. As the soil warms across the summer, these bacteria use an enzyme to bind nitrogen, useful to the plant itself, and spilling over to the surrounding soil to benefit other plants nearby as well. Low growing nitrogen fixing plants like clover, vetch and trefoils are sometimes planted as an interim green manure or as a cover crops to help enrich the soil for eg grape vines. That's nitrogen fixation - but there's more!


Clover providing nitrogen and also food for the bees
Clover providing nitrogen and also food for the bees

Towards July when clover comes into flower, it also supplies copious pollen and nectar for Izzie, her fellow insects, and other creatures, such as cows, horses, and even our tortoises, enjoy the flowers of red and white clover as well.


So where does all this fit in our bee story?


Dandelions grow among grass, and clover is often encouraged to enrich the soil alongside other crops.



Bees' food supply eaten by other animals - in this case, a tortoise eating a dandelion
Bees' food supply eaten by other animals - in this case, a tortoise eating a dandelion

Anything might come along and step on, or take a bite from a dandelion or clover flower.


So we hope nothing larger has designs on the same flower, just as Izzie arrives to feed on the nectar .....

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