Monday, 11 May 2009

A Midnight Raid!!

On Saturday it became very clear that somebody doesn't like us digging on plot103!! We arrived to see some fine beans that we had sown last weekend in places they really shouldn't have been! One or 2 on our 'sort of' paths, one or two in the carrot bed, and the more we looked, the more we found! Upon further inspection we could see little footprints running the length of the drills where the beans and peas had been direct sown! and at the corner of the bed, the culprit even had the cheek to place every fine bean we had sown in a neat little pile as a statement. This was pure mockery of our hard work...'dig in my field will ye!!' While we have chosen to give shop bought veg the two fingers, the local wildlife has clearly decided to give us the two fingers!!!
William the allotment guru reckons it was squirrels as there are a lot of them in the trees surrounding plot 103. And somehow I can't see birds leaving the beans in such a neat pile. Yes, this certainly has the hallmarks of a particularly bitter and vengefull rodent! and of course squirrels are known to carry a grudge! So our new plan of attack is to put our balconies back into a rediculous state temporarily, grow them up to seedling stage and then transplant them into the bed. I've sown new bean and pea plants in newspaper pots, and since they dug up the beans and peas, the squirrels would certainly have dug up sweetcorn so I've sown some sweetcorn on the balcony which will also be transplanted later.
Jemma and Eoin arrived down to plot 103 on Saturday in a unique form of transport! Its become very obvious that we really need a wheelbarrow, I don't know how we've survived without so far. They also brought 2 nice new shiny buckets so we will no longer be borrowing those belonging to William the allotment guru. Jemma has declared a personal war on weeds and we spent a large part of Saturday clearing sods from our 'sort of' paths and pulling some weeds. We also prepared the salad bed and sowed some rocket, lollo rossa, ice queen and butterhead lettuces, aswell as some spinach. The onions are doing very well and now all have lovely bright green tops showing.
Unfortunately, the gale force winds we had during the week proved just too much for my carrot fly barrier, we arrived to see it in a disheveled state after someone kindly tried to tie it back onto the stakes, (and did a pretty good job too) after it made a break for freedom. So we've decided we're just going to have to take our chances with the carrot fly and hope that the smell of the onion bed on one side, and leeks on the other will prove too much for them. We've also edged the bed with chives and sown spring onions between the rows, so we'll hope for the best. Cillian and Eoin got two of the Brassica beds dug and prepared and knowing now that we have acidic soil, we applied some lime to soak in before we sow seeds or transplant seedlings.
I made it down to Lidl on Saturday and managed to pick up one of the cheap fishing rods going, which turned out to be pretty good! It came with little tweezers/pliers type things for pulling the hook out of the fishes mouth, and a little box of tackle full of spinners hooks and lures. Not bad for 25 euros! We gave it a go and Cillian caught the first fish of the season...a small trout. As he was a bit small we threw him back but it was a promising start. I, on the other hand caught a tree, a bush, some weeds, a rock, a tree root and even my own sleeve! but alas no fish! but by Sunday my casting had improved and I wasn't catching my hook on the weeds or anything else quite as much, so we'll get there.
On the pest side, we found adult vine weevil, the war is on!! These ugly beetles lay up to a thousand eggs over the season and these hatch into vine weevil grubs, one of which we found a couple of weeks ago while digging the beds. The grubs eat away at the roots of plants and the adults will nibble U shaped notches in any vegetative leaves. He was duly squished and the search is now on for an organic solution for the launch of a full scale attack! This is WAR!!


  1. Hmmm...I can see why you were interested in the bird scarer, I have never seen squirrels in Ireland!It is very disheartening to lose plants to pests of any sort and it is all out war all year. Pigeons and rabbits are our worst ones.I have heard peas and beans sown directly attract mice too so the balcone is the best solution and bring them out when theya re ready.

  2. Yes we thought it might be mice until we saw the footprints and realised it must definately be squirrels, unless they have giant mutant mice in wicklow. Thankfully we don't have too many problems with pigeons, there doesn't seem to be many around there and although one or two of the onions were pulled up, there wasn't enough damage to make a fuss over so we just popped them back in. Haven't seen any pulled up since but they seem to have set a few roots now so must be harder to pull up. We will have peas yet!! and the cabbages are coming along well too, next up will probably be the rabbits!!