Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Seed tapes

I'm thinking about what seeds to order for the Spring. One innovation is to have seeds stuck to a tape, spaced out at the distance they would normally be thinned to. This seems like a good idea. They cost more, but the convenience could be worth it. Thinning is destructive and a bit hit and miss. In the past I have sown as many seeds as possible in pots and pricked them out as small plants, partly to avoid thinning, but I'm still not sure this is always the best way.

One issue with the tape system is that type of vegetables and particularly the varieties available are very limited. White Lisbon spring onions are available which I like, but other vegetables are not what I would choose.

So maybe one option is to try making my own tapes, even just for fun. If I use some lengths of lining paper that I already have I could cut out a double-width tape, add seeds at suitable points, fold over the tape to enclose them and glue the tape sides together. If I use simple flour and water paste that should not affect the seeds, but the water may trigger germination so I can only do that when I want to plant the seeds. I could also try to twist the paper to hold the seeds in place. A small test seems to be in order and if I do use any of my own tapes I think I'll not have to rely on them alone.

Beetroot, carrots, parsnips and spring onions seem good candidates to try.


A small amount of the rat poison has been eaten. The tray it is in has not moved. This means rats didn't eat it - they eat everything and chew or move the plastic trays.

I'm not bothered by mice, they are always present and do little damage in small numbers. I left the remaining poison and I'll check again tomorrow.

It was very frosty, sunny, with a clear sky and lovely crisp air. Always a nice place to be.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Defensive measures

I decided to put down some rat poison. The stuff available to ordinary folks is not always effective now against rats, but it's all I have. I put it in a hollow by the fence where rats have dug under their way into the plot. I covered the tray with a plank across the top of the hollow. That should keep any rain off and keep all but vermin away, but there's enough gap for a rat to get in and fill his face. I'll see if any has been eaten tomorrow.

The purple sprouting broccoli is looking strong and I still have a few leeks left to harvest. It always looks forlorn at this time of year, but soon spring will arrive with new growth. Can't wait.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Oh Rats

I went up to Plot 18 today to gather some leeks and parsnips. There were little holes here and there and all the parsnips had been dug up and eaten. There was a hole dug under the fence where the culprit got into the plot.

If I were to mention this to the parish council they might point the finger at rabbits as that is the only pest they seem to consider. In 2012 when lots of stuff got eaten, the fact that dead rats were found on the site, including on the parish council chairman's plot, was ignored as they blamed rabbits. The chairman then put out rat poison but claimed the problem was down to rabbits.

The parish council then dug up one of the four hedges surrounding the site, without the appropriate permission from the local authority and at the beginning of the bird nesting season, and, eventually, installed a fence. They have broken their promise and not reinstated the hedge. None of this has stopped root veg across the site, including my parsnips, from being eaten.

Rabbits did not dig under my fence as the hole is far too small for any rabbit to squeeze through, however rats would fit through nicely. The culprits didn't eat my leeks, the onion family make rats ill so they avoid them, but rabbits will eat the green tops of leeks.

What I want to know is that now the money has been spent, the 1997 Hedgerow Regulations broken, the Wildlife and Countryside Act ignored, the undertaking to reinstate the hedge forgotten and still the fence has not stopped our crops being eaten as most people on the site correctly predicted, who's head will roll at the parish council?