It’s the peak of September and we’ve been enjoying the full flush of harvesting this month. While we’ve been enjoying the fruits and veg of our labours, we’re certainly not the only ones. While our rather brave Allotment Fox got relocated a little while back, there are new residents about. Mainly the two young fox cubs I’ve spotted several times dashing between plots.
Spot the fox!
Usually the magpies start making the most horrific racket when they’re about. I haven’t thought much about it until I arrived at the plot one morning and found our corn crop nearly gone. My parents are visiting from Canada at the moment and I was really looking forward to serving them some lovely fresh sweetcorn.
Smooshed corn stalks
As I surveyed the damage, a plot neighbour came over and commiserated at our loss. She told me she had long given up on growing corn and it always happened each year. The foxes seemed to have an uncanny knack for knowing when you were just about to pick the corn, nabbing it before you could get it. She also told me that the Old Boys at the allotment would insist that it was badgers that did it, but the delightful gift of fox poo in the corn bed told me otherwise. I still did have one Old Boy insist that it was badgers nonetheless.
Between netting and the odd handful of slug pellets, that was one of the few major losses we’d suffered. The slugs only really started to get an upper hand on us when we fell behind on the weeding. However, keeping the beds clean and a bit of sunshine was a fantastic means of slug control, I kept finding lots of “cooked” slugs in the midst of the clear beds. Something to remember for next year.
It may seem strange, but I wasn’t really that bothered about the loss of the corn and a few other things that have been eaten. I feel we’ve gotten off fairly lightly when it comes to animal pilfering. The netting over the brassicas and fruit has been doing wonders at keeping the birds off. Of course, other than the Blue Tit that somehow managed to get itself trapped inside the fruit cage the other day.
Generally, I don’t blame the various pests for eating the odd thing, I can’t really blame them for just trying to survive. I just try to take in stride and learn how to best to minimise any loss next year. I’m a bit of a softie when it comes to wildlife, which is why I’m so chuffed the sunflowers I planted have been such a hit with the bird life. Maybe next year, I’ll grow a special patch of corn just for the foxes…the rest will be protected by a ten foot high electric fence.
Time management is usually one of my better skills. The greatest exception seems to be when I set foot on the allotment. I often pop in on my way home from work to do some “quick” weeding. Three hours later, Scott is phoning me, wanting to know when I might be coming home.
I’ve taken to limiting my time by only allowing myself only one or two tasks at a time. If I am weeding I keep my time there in check by allowing myself one bucket load of weeds. If I have more time available, then one wheelbarrow load. Sticking to this proves difficult occasionally, as I often start the “just one more bed” technique.
Early morning start
I did recently allow myself a day without any time restriction. I packed a lunch and headed over to the plot at 7am. I’m quite used to early starts, as I often have to head to the New Covent Garden Flower Market in the wee hours before work. It was glorious, just me, some playful fox cubs and the mist. By the time people started to arrive, the temperature really began to rise, so I just took it easy and dead headed the sweet peas instead.
The TO DO list
I do have a touch of the OCD when it comes to organisation, as can be seen by the To Do whiteboard we have hanging up in the shed. A bit hard to see in the above photo, but the paper tacked on the cork board is our Veg Map to remind us of what variety is planted where. Sowing and planting dates also included…
It may seem a bit much, but it is interesting to see just how quick and slow some things are coming along. Timing really is everything when it comes to veg growing. My parents are flying over from Canada in early September and I really want the plot to be in peak production when they get here. I find myself urging the sweetcorn to hurry up and attempting to cajole the French beans to slow down a bit!
I’m amazed at how much we’ve done in less than a year and I’m looking forward to showing it to my parents in person. It’s been a mere nine months, we’re still very much on the steep learning curve and I’m already think of how to better use the plot next year. Getting things started earlier definitely has got to be part of that. Also, get myself a much bigger weeding bucket.
While we do get our fair share of human visitors, it’s the non-human visitors I get really excited about. Whenever I’m there enjoying some peace and quiet on my own, I’m never really alone.
I often lose time watching the bees, following the beetles scuttling across the beds or trying to identify all the different birds I see. Even yesterday, I had to pause with the watering to scoop out a frog that had gotten trapped in the water cistern. As it hopped off into the tall grass, I realised I should have re-homed it under the comfrey patch, where there’s millions of slugs hiding.
Speaking of slugs, fifteen minutes of hand picking though the ornamental beds yielded nearly a half bucket of slugs…yum. Also, I never realised how much noise is emitted from a bucket of slugs. Lots of popping, slopping and the occasional plop.
So far my favourite visitor has been our own Allotment Fox. Obviously very young, a year at most, it was often spotted trotting though the plots, following along as I pushed my wheelbarrow up to the green waste bins. Recently, I was working away when I saw it standing only a few meters away from me. I then noticed that most of its tail was missing and it looked like it was a very recent injury. I could tell it was in pain and worried that it had/could become severely infected. Yesterday, I found out the RSPCA had managed to trap it and I hope it got some basic veterinary care before being released. I was sorry to hear they had been asked to relocate it, I do miss the foxy company, even if it did pee on my fleece tunnels…
There are things other than slugs and foxes of course, even rumours of badgers, but in the meantime here’s a sampling of all the life that can be found on the allotment.
(Another fantastic video from Scott)