Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Sowing seeds

I sowed some seeds directly into the ground today. I like to sow seeds in pots and then plant out healthy plants, but today I decided to try sowing seeds alongside some plants grown in pots. I sowed beetroot, spring onions and spinach, all under nets.

The spring onions and beetroot are together under a plastic net stapled to a low frame. Last night something chewed through the plastic mesh and nibbled a few spring onion leaves, so I fixed the hole with some string. I want to replace all of the plastic mesh on frames with chicken wire but a small repair will do for now.

The big topic for discussion amongst all of the plot holders is what is eating all of our plants. I've not suffered much, but it would be helpful, I think, to know what is eating stuff, so I'm trying to work out how to get a camera that will be triggered by a passive infra red sensor to snap a picture of the culprit. If I build it myself it might be ready for next year.

More netting

Having seen a rabbit easily jump over a fairly low fence, I wondered if I should replace the low fences with higher ones. That would still not keep birds off my veg, so I'm leaving the fences as they are and covering vulnerable stuff with nets.

I put some leeks out yesterday and put nets up over them. The nets are big enough for all my leeks and some cabbage. I will need more netting yet and more frames to support it.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Jumping Jack Rabbit

This afternoon I planted out some mange touts. They were sown late, have grown slowly and look strong, but not very big. Following previous years were peas were scoffed by something or other in the blink of an eye, I put up some frames to grow the peas in. I kept the prunings from a hazel tree as peas sticks.

Just before I set off for the allotments the heavens opened and a downpour delayed me. While I was there there were a few spots of rain, but I got the peas out in the dry. I then set about the pea sticks which I thought would be a moments work, but as the rain started to bucket down it seemed to take ages, so I took refuge in the greenhouse. After a few minutes the rain eased up a bit so I finished the sticks, covered the frame with netting and headed for home. As I turned the key in the door at home the rain stopped, the sun came out and I needed a towel.

A bit later I realised that in my haste to finish I had not clipped the netting to the frame at one side, so I popped up again (in the dry) to do just that. As I walked past Tony's plot I heard a rustle and saw a small rabbit on his plot, inside his fence. As I moved towards it, waving my arms, it calmly jumped over his fence and ran off from the site across the road. The fence is about knee high but some of my fencing is only slightly higher and its effortless leap would easily have cleared by fence too. This is an bit of a surprise and I might need to think again out fencing to keep 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

What destroyed some fencing?

More pest trouble, but this time something with muscle. As I mentioned in the last post, I think something has died under the shed, judging by the bluebottles and the smell. When we took over the plot there were three very substantial concrete fence posts which I used as a base for the shed. I levelled them and put damp-proof plastic on them and put the treated shed base across them. This keeps the wooden base off the ground to help keep the rot away. Once the shed is down you can't treat the bottom of the floor again without fully dismantling the shed, so keeping it off the ground helps a lot. This leaves a small gap between the shed base and the concrete posts next to each of the wooden rails. I covered this gap with some strong wire fencing, held in place with plastic strips screwed to the shed. Something destroyed this.

The stiff wire is bent and mangled. The plastic has been ripped off the screws. There is blood on some of the wire. Something was very keen to be into that space. It looks like it was ripped off from outside rather than pushed off from inside.

I had to use a hammer to straighten the wire, so whatever bent it was pretty strong. I suspect a fox or a dog was trying to get at whatever was under the shed.

I hammered wooden stakes into the ground, replaced the wire and screwed the stakes and more plastic bands across the wire to hold it in place. I hope that is enough.

Thursday, 6 June 2013


The weather has been warm and calm and is set to be so for a few more days at least. I've built a simple frame for runner beans from canes and planted out the beans. I decided to wrap the bottom of the frame in netting to, hopefully, keep any bean munchers out. I've weeded the next strip of ground ready to plant out sweetcorn and mange tout. I know all peas are vulnerable, especially to birds like pigeons and partridges so they need carefully covering. It seems that sweetcorn is also vulnerable this year, with other people's being munched. Some suggest deer which might be the case. My perimeter fence is intact as far as I can tell but it certainly wouldn't keep deer out - they could easily hop over it - so I'll try to cover the sweetcorn as it goes out.

The beetroot I planted out a few days ago is now recovering from flagging badly as it went out. I've planted out the next batch too and some spring onions have gone out. All of this is under a netting cover.

At home the broccoli is coming on nicely, another batch of spring onions is on the way and savoy cabbage is doing well. All of these are vulnerable and will need netting, so I need to make sure I have enough netting and some frames to hold the netting would be good too.

Whatever the pests are that are eating our produce, one of them has died under my shed I think, it probably succumbed to rat poison on other plots. There are lots of bluebottles around and a smell of rotting flesh. I can't easily get under the shed, and I'm not sure I want to, but it has encouraged me to ensure the space under the shed is all secure with wire mesh.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Rabbits with a sense of humour

The saga of the hedge being pulled out and replaced with a fence and then, eventually, being replanted as a hedge has caused a lot of comment, some mirth and some bad feeling. The parish council chairman, who is strongly in favour of this plan, has decided that he is not talking to me. I asked the East Riding of Yorkshire (ERoY) council if our parish council could pull out the hedge, ERoY confirmed that they needed permission which they didn't have so wrote to the parish council to let them know they couldn't just pull out a rural hedge.

The parish council was invited to a meeting to discuss this, but the parish council chairman took this as some sort of dressing down, which was certainly not the case. As a result of a simple email from me the parish council chairman is now shouting at me that he is not talking to me. His childish behaviour is causing a lot of mirth and has lost him a lot of respect. Other village residents are very unhappy about the way the parish council is handling some planning matters too, so I hope that at the next election there will be some changes, but I'm not holding my breath.

The hedge-to-fence-to-hedge idea is supposedly about stopping rabbits getting onto the site which I don't think stands any chance of working. Some rabbits have taken up residence in the middle of the site underneath a shed. Clearly a fence along one side of the site would not keep them off our plots. Oddly enough that rabbit-infested plot is rented by, of all people, the parish chairman.