6 June 2009

Allotments: an obsession?

It's been a while since the last update. It's that busy time of year, and not always on the plot, and I seem to struggle to update the blog at this time of year. Whilst I would do a quick catch up, I have to moan (no doubt at length) about my strawberries.

Now I grow good strawberries. It's not that I'm particularly talented in growing them but I spent a reasonable amount of time selecting a couple of decent varieties for taste above all else (Chelsea Pensioner and Gariguette from Ken Muir). Everyone who has been privileged to taste them has agreed that they are very good. Sadly, I struggle to get many strawberries off the plants due to pests eating them before I get to them.

Originally I had problems with slugs, then I thought it was birds, then mice, before finally catching a squirrel legging it with one of my strawberries in its mouth last year. War was declared. The children were banned from from feeding them at the Botanical Gardens. Large amounts of netting were bought. All to no avail.

This year the feeding ban remains (and they know that it's because the rats with tails are stealing their strawberries) and I started off with chicken wire around the outside of the strawberry bed, straw under the strawberries, slug pellets and netting over the top. Half a punnet of strawberries later with only a few losses I thought we'd reached an acceptable compromised. However a later trip revealed this was not the case. The tree rats decided they wanted everything, having chewed their way in through the netting, decimating all of the (partly) ripened fruits and many still green strawberries.

So tonight I spent over two hours putting chicken wire over the top and tying it to the surrounding chicken wire and joining the two strips together. I then made sure the bottom of the wire was firmed in to the earth, sprinkled chill powder (they supposedly don't like that) around the outside and over the top where the wire is tied together to try and stop them chewing through the string and then covered it all over with the netting again. Quite how I'll get in to pick any strawberries that survive lord alone knows! As I was doing this a couple of the thieving little b*stards popped up at the bottom of the plot and did a runner when they saw me. If this doesn't work I'm going to start sleeping there. With an air rifle.

I couldn't help but think I'm probably growing the world's most expensive strawberries. Gariguette are sold in Harrods, at this rate it'll be cheaper to get on a train to go and buy them in London. To be honest it'll probably be cheaper to get on a train to France to buy them at this rate. But it's a matter of principle and I will not be beaten.

And breathe.

Some older photos from a few weeks back:

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