Bird proofing the strawberry patch

As I was swanning around in London when the mother of all storms bashed Hinckley and surrounding areas to bits, I was rather sceptical of the ‘hailstones the size of golf balls’ story on my return home. Thinking that more than a touch of exaggeration was in force, I wandered off down the garden to see the damage for myself. I was greeted with the sight of cabbages that could double as colanders, and holes smashed through the roof of the chicken coop. According to form, we got off lightly though. I know of others who need new conservatory panels, lost their entire greenhouses, and could now play steel drums on the roof of their cars.

This weekend, a few holey cabbages were the least of my worries though. A short while back, I approached the strawberry bed, to find a young blackbird blatantly chomping his way through my meagre crop. When he spotted me, he didn’t even have the good grace to look guilty. Casually having one last munch, he took flight, and I’m certain I heard him laughing as he flew away.

“I don’t think so, sunshine!”, I thought. With not a moment (or indeed a strawberry) to lose, I flashed into the shed and came out brandishing a length of netting. Draping it across the raised bed, I allowed myself a moment of smugness, knowing I’d stopped his little game.

Not so. A couple of days later, he’d actually got under the netting, and was merrily helping himself to seconds. On spotting me, he flapped around for a bit, then pulled himself together and escaped though a gap near the edge which was evidently his route in and out.

By this time I was more than a little annoyed. I deployed the help of my youngest at the weekend, and our mission was to bird-proof the patch. Reusing some slats from a single bed, we hammered one into each corner of the raised bed, and put a nail at the top of each to snag the netting on to. The netting went on, and we stretched it down all the sides, securing it to a couple of strategic nails around the base of the bed. We soon had a structure that could rival Fort Knox.

Job done, we were pleased with our handiwork, and so far so good, our visitor hasn’t been back.

Spotting the raspberries are beginning to ripen, we decided to thwart the efforts of our local birds, and draped a load of netting over them. The blackcurrant bush got some too, as we were well into the swing of things, and were not leaving anything to chance.

The garden now looks like we have shares in ‘Nets-R-Us’ but it’s a small price to pay if we manage to get a bowl of strawberries anytime this summer…

We’re off to the Edible Garden Show!

I happened across the Edible Garden Show today, and am chuffed to be able to say that my friend and I are off there for a little trip out this weekend.

No strangers to garden shows, we’ve been to quite a few over the years. We prided ourselves at one time of being Geoff Hamilton’s own personal groupies, and it wasn’t unknown for us to visit the Gardener’s World Show at the NEC just to catch a glimpse of the legend himself. At some points I think we even convinced ourselves that we actually knew him, as we would chat gardening chat with wise words such as, “well, you know, Geoff said the best way to grow carrots was to….” blah blah blah.

On one occasion, we were avidly watching Gay Search doing a piece for telly, and I’m almost ashamed to say that throughout the entire performance, my friend and I were watching through the back of the garden display, with our heads poking through the trellis. We searched the recording of the next Gardener’s World show frame by frame, and, result! There we were, grinning stupidly in the background – how we laughed.

So this weekend should be fun. My friend doesn’t actually grow much veg, but she’s mad keen on all the other stuff, and knows the right way to prune shrubs etc, rather than my haphazard approach of ‘grab the shears and give it a good haircut!’ Oh, yes, I can see it now. She’ll have to bow to my wisdom when I start going on about borlotti beans vs runner beans, and early and late peas, and wondering sagely if indeed those parsnips are ‘Hollow Crowns’.

I’ll have to slightly overlook the point when her eyes glaze over and she impails herself on a garden fork….

Here today, plum tomorrow

Last weekend, the plum tree was laden with fruit, and we could see ourselves gorging on plum-related goodies all through the winter. However, nature had another plan.

Autumn nipped into the garden yesterday on the back of a strong wind, which whipped all the plums off the tree, into the shrubbery beneath.

A bit of grubbing around produced half a basket of almost edible fruit, which weren’t any good for the fruit bowl but I’ve stoned and frozen them and they are making their way into a smoothie near you.

The  little plastic greenhouse had also blown over… again, spreading my PSBs all over the place. I wonder if they have the kiss of death, as they are either being munched to within an inch of their life  by caterpillars, or are in a random heap on the patio.

I’ve discovered a design fault with these  greenhouses – three words:

They… are… rubbish… Roll on getting the garden sorted and my new greenhouse up and working.