Rain stopped play

I know the rain stopped a lot of gardeners’ play recently, but I for one was having a teeny bit of a smug moment about it all.

My lovely new water butt

My lovely new water butt

Only the week before, my birthday present had consisted of some new greenhouse guttering and a shiny new water butt – who said romance was dead… flowers are sooo last year!  After the other half had spent the entire weekend dodging the showers to get it all installed, I was hoping for a veritable downpour… and that’s exactly what we got.

Not only was the new water butt filling up at a grand pace, but the garden was getting a good old water too – If I strained my ears, I could almost hear the sound of slurping roots. And, after being told our area was on a drought warning, we certainly needed it – looking round the garden, some plants had fared slightly better than others.

After rescuing my brassicas from the beak of a hungry pigeon earlier in the year, the purple sprouting broccoli (PSB) has grown into fine specimens, and we’re getting a good crop from it. Alas, the same can’t be said for the savoys. Some look as though they have the potential to heart up, but some haven’t so much bolted, as scarpered and run for the hills. I think it was down to the warm spell we had. Not to worry though, some will make tasty treats for the chickens, and I’ll let a few of them flower so I can save the seeds for next year.

The PSB's in fine fettle

The PSB's in fine fettle

Meanwhile, back in the greenhouse, a load more brassicas I’d started off were about ready to be planted out. Fast running out of room in the garden, I set about preparing a new patch. After clearing the area, a few laps round with the rotovator soon dug it over, and before long the bed was ready to be planted.

Whilst preparing the area, I discovered ‘Chicken Olympics’: an entertaining game that anyone can play, providing you have 1) a couple of hens and 2) a worm. Simply place the worm on top of the wire in the coop. The birds will spot it, and the High Jump trials will begin. After said worm has dropped through, it’s time for the 20 metre sprint. I have to say that Winnie was the clear champion, due to her speed, eye to beak co-ordination and sheer dexterity. Oh, and I’m sure being a bit of a thug helped too.

Anyway, patch ready, in went three types of cabbage, next year’s PSB and Brussels, and some cauliflower plants. Slug pellets went down, netting went on, and we’ll have to see what grows and what doesn’t.

My family are cock-a-hoop – they thought they’d seen the last of cabbage…

Latest from The Hinckley Times – 26 April

Hinckley Times 26 April 2012

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Who’s been scoffing my savoys?

Recently I noticed that something has been scoffing my savoy cabbages. They’re in a bed with some purple sprouting broccoli, and on closer inspection all of the plants had little holes in them or had been nibbled round the leaves.

I grew some purple sprouting broccoli last year, but it never actually sprouted due to the masses of snow we had. This year I’d like to at least see what all the fuss is about – apparently it’s one of the tastiest vegetable to grow – and the more you pick, the more it sprouts. Experienced gardeners tend to shorten the name to ‘PSB’ – at first I didn’t know what they were on about… I thought they’d got some new, exotic veg up their sleeve.

So… what was eating it? I’d already discovered a family of slugs had rampaged through my pak choi, but that was under the polytunnel. Surely it was too cold out in the open for slugs… would they not freeze? And it’s certainly too early for the dreaded cabbage white.

The next morning, from my kitchen window I spotted the culprit. Bold as brass, a wood pigeon was having a fine old party for one, merrily chomping through my prize veggies. I noticed that he seemed to be particularly fond of the plants in this year’s plot, having blatantly ignored the sorry offerings we’d had to eat from last year’s bed.

“I don’t flippin’ well think so, sunshine!” I hissed through gritted teeth. It’s enough of a challenge getting stuff to grow into something that looks half edible, without some bird coming along and eating it all. With not a moment to lose, I slipped on my wellies and ran down the path waving my arms madly to shoo him off. I then set about making sure he couldn’t come back for seconds. A quick rustle round the shed produced a roll of netting I’d bought cheap at the end of last year.

So there I was, in my wellies and pink spotty PJs, stretching netting across my cabbages, at eight in the morning. My poor neighbours…

Personally I’m not a big fan of netting – I prefer to see the plants growing. Plus the fact that mine was a tad small so it was so tightly stretched across, the plants looked like they were off to do a bank job.

So this week I removed the netting. I poked a cane in at each end of the bed, tied some string between them and hung two old cds from it. I was feeling pretty chuffed with my bird scarer, right up until the following morning, where I noticed the pigeon was back – not looking all that frightened. There was nothing for it – I hunted round the shed for a bigger piece of netting and that’s now protecting my broccoli – which I’m pleased to say, is starting to form sprouts.

C’mon pigeon – bring it on… if you think you’re hard enough…

Who's been scoffing my savoys?

This one was in the Hinckley Times on 15 March. Is there some subliminal messaging going on, I wonder. In a previous article I was stood atop a ‘Replace your old boiler’ ad. Now we seem to have moved on to ‘Beach body boot camp’…. ahem….