Squirrel's Garden

Blogging the highs and lows of my attempts at allotment gardening

Location: Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom

Friday, August 06, 2010

Nearly Lost the Plot

It has been a long time since my last post and a lot has happened on the plot as well as in my life. Some health problems left me struggling to keep on top of the plot and I was beginning to think I would have to give it up. Thankfully things seem to be so much better now and I am finally getting on top of it all again.

I am on a site with a committee that is resistant to organic growing so there is a constant pressure to cultivate every square inch of the plot leaving "nowhere for pests to hide," but this also leaves nowhere for any friendly or harmless wildlife to exist so I resist as much as I can.

Chemical sprays are the norm here and the general attitude towards spraying is that if it is good to spray two weekly then it must be even better to spray twice a week, so it is a constant battle to try to allow natural pest predators to build up. However, I am happy to see hundreds of our native 7spot ladybirds and their larvae, and even saw a 24spot and a few harlequins, which all seem to be living in harmony. Grasshoppers, common lizards basking in the sunshine, frogs hiding in the long grass, fleets of hoverflies and many bees tell me I must be getting something right.

This little spider was carrying it's eggs on its back.

After several months of wrangling, I finally got permission from the committee to erect a poly-tunnel.
It was not a very popular decision with some as they saw it as a building rather than a form of crop protection, but I am now well on the way to completing my self-build project.

Here are a few photos of my progress.

The site is plagued with potato blight, carrot and cabbage root fly, pigeons with a liking to brassicas, onion white rot and club root.
The soil was fairly lifeless and dependant on fertilizers and manure to keep it productive.
I am working hard to condition the soil and give it back some of its life. I think this is paying off as I am now finding that some of the local birds wait to pounce in their search for worms and insects when I disturb the soil. This brings back memories of my Grandfather's allotment in the late 1940's when he would turn over a row of soil and then encourage me to sit quietly with him whilst and wait for the birds to come. As a child this was a magical moment and a lasting memory.

I am also using netting rather than sprays to protect the crops and often find that a blast from a sprayer filled with water will knock off any aphids that are out numbering the ladybirds etc.

Off now to gather a little more of my harvest in readiness for a few more preserves.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

People throw stones only at trees with fruit on them.............................................................

2:49 pm  
Blogger Veli P. S said...

Hi Sheila,
Founded your blog while searching Goji-berry cultivation info.

Advice for pest problem will be found of organic pesticides. Some of them can even be made in your own kitchen. We been using organic pesti- and herbisides over 10 years in our farm with good results.
Good luck with your gardening.
Cheers //Veli

9:36 am  
Blogger Green Lane Allotments said...

Maybe you are suffering from everyone else being spray happy - all the wildlife know that they are safe on your plot!

9:45 am  
Blogger sheila said...

Thanks for the comments and support. I do use some organic stuff (eg urine sprays for gooseberry mildew and diluted milk on squash/courgettes for mildew) these seem to work for me Veli

9:37 pm  

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