Saturday, 7 June 2014

Killer Pigeons and Other Disasters

 After some very poor weather I went up to the vegetable plot to check on my plants.  I discovered my runner beans were rather shorter than they had been last time I saw them.  My initial thought was slugs, but then I looked at the peas....
 Heads neatly snapped off, and a number missing.  Damned wood pigeons!  Last year was the first time we had any problem with wood pigeons using the plot as an all you can eat buffet, but it seems it was not a one-off.  Most of the runner beans have lost their upper sections.
Here are the peas, there were two unbroken lines either side of these twigs, you can see the gaps.  Further explorations revealed that they had also started snacking on the spinach and chard nearby.  Happily, it looked like a recent development of only two breakfasts so a lot of the plants have survived.  I was going to put the second sowing of peas in anyway so I took the opportunity to resow in the gaps of the earlier sowing, I will also fill in the gaps in the beans as I have lots of seeds left.  Resowing generally works before the end of June, which is the latest successful time at this latitude.

So I got out my very long roll of netting and wound it round all the plants, hopefully they will recover.  Another net has gone over the spinach and chard as the pigeons seem to like them too.
The most difficult thing about gardening here is the weather, combined with our clay soil it can make germination very difficult.  This year we had a relatively warm spring, but just as I started planting the weather turned cold and damp for a couple of weeks.  My cabbage sowing resulted in just two miserable specimens - believe it or not, this is the best one!  So I decided to cut my losses and buy a few plants.
At least we will have some cabbages later this year.  Other things have suffered with the rain too.  I lost one courgette to the damp, still time to resow that one.
 I thought I had lost all the parsnips, but on closer inspection I found a few clumps where the soil was clearly just warm enough for germination, with big gaps between the clumps.  The colder temperatures came at just the wrong time.
It's a similar story with the beetroot, although I got cloches on the soil temperature dropped a little too far.  I may need to transplant some beetroot and parsnip to fill in the gaps, though I may also get a little more seed and sow more next week as there is just time.
The wet weather has encouraged the slugs and snails - while my potatoes are as slug and blight resistant as they get, even they cannot withstand invasion level numbers.  A few stems have been toppled by the creatures gnawing away at the base.  Not too many, so a dose of slug pellets and some sunshine should fix the problem.
Happily it's not all doom and gloom, here are some broad beans which have now set, so that's something to look forward to.
And there looks to be a bumper crop of strawberries on the way, as long as the sun shines a bit more!
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