Today is the inter-site competition for best kept plots, which we won't win because a) we didn't enter b) I can't seem to grow neat rows of great looking veg and c) I'm just not that into the idea. I'm aware of some allotment sites where there are prizes for most bee-friendly and most wildlife-friendly plot: sounds more broad-minded! Talking of wildlife: SNAKES ALIVE- was I shocked to see a poor 3-foot viper lookalike tangled in our netting.
Not our snake: Picture courtesy of Friends of Lancing Ring wildlife site http://www.glaucus.org.uk/LancRin2.htm
I recognised it as a grass snake (dull greyish colour, not all zig-zaggy) but still had a primal wish not to get bitten as it hissed and writhed. After a few attempts with secateurs I called L who legged it to the site in 4 minutes flat with a pair of sharp scissors, and then following a titan struggle with the mega-beast we got it fully free, and it shot off looking unharmed, but leaving us stinky with the snake-wee it emits to deter predators. We were chuffed to know there was a snake on the plot, but immediately removed all netting! Adders have a painful bite, which may cause severe health problems so be careful with those, but apparently you should be fairly safe with a grass snake.
Two days later I saw a dead hedgehog on the next plot- a very sad looking little thing. Was it the snake or the copious amounts of (banned) creosote which have just been splashed around the communal areas? It equally could have been the hot weather, or slug pellets and rat poisons... who knows.
Better news is that just around the same time we found two gorgeous garden tiger moths- the population of these has plummeted in the last few years, but reports suggest this has been a good year, as it seems to have been for other moths and butterflies.
When the moths were tucked under Crocosmia Lucifer they were quite well disguised in the dappled shade.
As well as revelling in wild beasties we have enjoyed a huge crop of delicious cherries, together with raspberries, strawberries, and red and black currants. Veg-wise we have had a good few french beans (Blue Lake and Cobra) whilst the mange-tout and peas have more or less finished. The perpetual spinach tastes pleasantly spinachy. We have also been cropping Cavalo Nero leaves- this is supposed to be grown and eaten through the winter months but our plot neighbours kindly gave us some rather well grown plants which are thriving right now. The potatoes - bog standard (probably) Arran Pilots- have been wonderfully new-potatoey. To go with the mint, which is, you've guessed it, pleasingly minty!
Last week was my birthday, thank you for the allotmenty cards and presents I received! And thank you allotment for the lovely bunch of flowers and the raspberries you provided for my cake!