Taking stock

Looking on the bright side, we came home with some allotment produce this weekend: radishes, artichokes, lettuce, the last of the rhubarb, the first of the strawberries. A few things seem to be coming along nicely: the broad beans are flowering vigorously and the long row of parsnips also seem undeterred by the gloom. Both are hardy plants that can withstand the chill in the air.

However this cold and rainy weather has led to a fair amount of disappointments. Germination has been poor in general, and seedlings (esp. my brassicas sown in a seedbed under fleece) have been decimated by legions – legions! – of slugs and snails. The onions are growing poorly and are beset by a newly arrived pest, the allium leaf miner. The courgettes, squashes, and beans are wan from lack of sunlight and warmth, and a number have had their leaves shredded and stems hollowed out by happy slugs. Not content with these predations, these marauders have been assiduously “tasting” every strawberry that blushes red. I am holding on to my principles and not waging chemical warfare via slug pellets, but am now arming myself with other defense strategies, namely: plastic bottles cut up to create protective cloches, crushed egg shells and coffee grounds to deter trespassers, and perhaps even thick sprinklings of wheat bran (which, when consumed by bandit slugs, expands in their gut, causing them to come to an explosive end). Nice.

“There’s always next year,” remarked the wise old allotmenteer who runs the weekend allotment “shop” out of a shed on a nearby site. He said it with a wry smile. It was reassuring to hear how tough a season he and the other old-timers have been having (it’s not just me!), but I can’t give up on the whole season yet. Not when the peas are blossoming in earnest now, and if I can just keep the pigeons from ripping them up, we will soon be picking a nice green pod or two…


2 thoughts on “Taking stock

  1. Oh, I do feel for you! So much so that I visited the BBC weather forecast immediately after talking yesterday to see what lies ahead. Good news! You are going to have sunshine and warmer temperatures this week in the west Midlands. I hope this comes to pass, and wish we could send over some of our heat wave. In the nineties for the next several days, and getting drier by the minute.
    Slaughter those slugs in any way you can.

    • Thanks, D. Of course, after whining about the miserable weather, it is lovely this morning! We’re planning to barbecue tonight to celebrate.

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