There’s a thief at the bottom of my garden, and who it is I haven’t a clue. Something has eaten all my onions from one of my willow planters and the lettuce. The other planter hasn’t fared any better with the culprit starting to eat those onions too and the radishes! It isn’t only my veg that’s going missing but the foliage on some of my bulbs has been nibbled at.
Two months ago something ate all the heads off my bearded irises and I thought perhaps it was a one off but these recent thefts have the same tell-tale signs although I haven’t got any idea what the thief could be. I can dismiss the birds because my veg has been protected by netting and it doesn’t look like bird damage. I’m considering the possibility of slugs/snails but again the damage doesn’t match what they’ve done to my hostas.
This leaves me thinking that I have a mystery on my hands because I’m certain that the neighbourhood cats do not eat veg and I’d surely notice them at it. The onions have been eaten from the top down, along with the foliage on the bulbs and the radishes have been nibbled at around the edges inward. I have no idea about the lettuces because they have vanished! No sign of them can be found anywhere much to my disappointment.
Do you have any idea what it could be? Any help identifying this pest would be much appreciated.
On a brighter note I’m happy to say that my French beans are doing surprisingly well when I had almost given up hope they are actually developing some pods, not enough to feed my family of 4 but still it’s better than nothing. The runner beans are now developing too and so far none have been pinched by the wee blackbird that checks up on them daily. I’ve still to harvest the carrots after deciding the miniscule one I pulled up meant they needed to be left a little longer and they are completely pest free so the coldframe idea has worked quite well.
I just have to discover who this mysterious garden thief is before any more of my plants go AWOL!
As the season of summer finally starts to show what she can really do (yes, summer would definitely be a lady), we begin to watch in wonder as the flowers and fruits begin to bloom. The previous owners of our allotment took pride in creating a small patch that they dedicated to growing wildflowers on. We have opted to keep this.
I think that some folk see allotments as those bastions of old men, surrounded by soggy crops, homing pigeons, the loud crowing of cockerels and hours of sweat and toil in return for mammoth-sized onions and cabbage. Don’t get me wrong – those types of allotments exist; I have seen them, but the freedom of a large (or small) plot can be so much more.
We kept the flower patch. Amidst all the crops at the top of the allotment is the small country cottage style garden resplendent with wild and naturally occurring plants. My Nan would call them “angel comers” as they were planted by seemingly God’s own hand – in truth usually naturally propagated or seeds dropped from the mouth of a passing bird. I love the poetic idea that we are at the whim of something greater and despite our best intentions things will just grow where they wish. In fairness anyone who has tangled with returning weeds will certainly share that feeling!
Take a look – see what you think. In amongst the flowers grows two or three varieties of mint, every hue and shade resplendent in colour. Some of the purists would argue that they serve no purpose – but equally the same critics would care little for making their own garden burst with blooms.
We did get the ultimate taste of summer this year – a bumper crop of wild strawberries. Our boy spent hours picking (and eating!) the best of them. Despite being told he had to save some for the rest of us he was un-thwarted and did his best to consume as many of them as he could! And whilst I would disapprove of such gluttony on French fries or burgers, the produce of our allotment is a very different matter.
As you can also see, we are looking forward to a bumper harvest of tomatoes and courgettes – we seem to have been over-run in both of our greenhouses. We have already had several of the young vegetables, simply skewered, drizzled with olive oil and grilled – they were amazing! It is fair to say we will be looking for plenty of recipes that use tomatoes and courgettes. Have you got any ideas? I would love to hear them, cook them and then let you know just how we get on.
Over the past few years we’ve had some building work done on our house. Unfortunately it took longer than expected, so in the thousand years that the builder was with us I built up quite a stock of expectation about what I could do when the world righted itself. I also built up a stock of surplus household fittings for one reason or another. One of those was a large bath that had been relegated to the back garden due to it having a chip out of the side. A new one was delivered but we kept hold of the old one as I figured it would make a pretty good plant pot.
Then a little while ago one of my neighbours very kindly popped over with a load of strawberry plants. She’d planted them out and they’d run wild so she was trying to get rid of a few. I was over the moon and decided to plant them in the bath. I put the bath on a few bricks to raise it for drainage and then started to fill it with bits of masonry and bricks, polystyrene and compost, anything really that I could hide in the bottom of the bath rather than taking to the tip.
I planted the strawberry plants in the bath and covered it over with netting so the birds couldn’t get to it and I’m pleased to say that, despite all the rain we’ve been having, the strawberries are thriving. We’ve been picking quite a few of them and we even made ice-cream with them. The raspberries are all starting to ripen too so it’s mixed berries for pudding.
I also found a butler sink going cheap that I’ve put to good use as an outside sink underneath the outside tap. It’s perfect for sitting pots in when they need a good soaking and for filling up so the children can do some of the watering for me, though they seem to prefer using the hose so they can soak each other.
To finish off the set I somehow ended up with not one but two toilets that weren’t needed. One of them had a crack in it but the other was just surplus. Now I know builders, friends and loved ones all think I’m nuts but I quite fancy using these unusual porcelain pots in the garden. I’ve been trying to decide what to put in them and where to put them in the garden. I did consider planting my Jerusalem artichokes in them but didn’t think it would be palatable to eat a tuber that was wrested from a u-bend so now I’m thinking maybe alpines might work but if anyone has any suggestions please let me know.
There are times when I really feel like giving it all up and just let the garden do its own thing! It’s not the weeds, but the rabbits, the slugs & snails, and the WEATHER!
It was almost the last straw this morning when I went out to find that the strong blustery winds yesterday and last night had snapped off my lovely Amelanchier grandiflora ‘Ballerina’ that I planted last autumn. Yes, it was supported, but I’d only used soft garden string so the stem wouldn’t get damaged. With all that rocking, the string had broken and there it was this morning, lying flat. Sorry – no pictures – I didn’t have the heart. What I have done is to carefully pick it up (it was still attached low down) and tie it back in with stronger twine. I don’t know whether it will recover or not. Perhaps it will shoot up from the bottom. We’ll have to wait and see.
Meanwhile, checking on the rest of the garden, I have discovered that something has had a go at my nice new Rosa ‘Seagull’. Just a few leaves remain. I suspect Peter Rabbit – but how he’s managed to sneak in through the wire netting, I just don’t know… That too is now swathed in additional netting.
On to the strawberries – which were doing nicely yesterday, thank you, and all tucked in under their netting. So was it you, Mrs Blackbird, who managed to find another way in? Or perhaps it was the magpies – there are a family of four cheeky siblings bouncing about. Whoever it was didn’t think much of my luscious fruit as it was spat out – both ripe and green.
Nearby are my containers of ‘Salad Bowl’ lettuce. They too are looking under the weather. Slugs? Or perhaps the pigeons? The wood pigeons waddle about, how they get off the ground I just don’t know – they are so fat at the moment. Perhaps it’s time for pigeon pie to go back onto the menu.
So, come on woman, cheer up… there’s a nice piece of bacon doing very well in the slow cooker and the new potatoes are ready to pick. I bought one of those tiered potato containers this year and started them off in the greenhouse. They might not be as early as some, but those in it are a good few weeks ahead of the ones in the ground.