Wednesday, 7 August 2013

News Round-up: what we are doing and Snakes, Moths, and things to eat.

A lot has been happening!  Since I've finally finished the last two essays of my MA I feel I can blog again! I still have a dissertation to go by September but I'm getting there.....and the plot is a nice place to escape to!

We have had a slightly fraught allotment site AGM: new rule changes demand a seasonal cycle of activities on each plot including clearing all the ground by March, manuring shortly after, planting all done by June etc..... I didn't vote for it as it's not how we want to do things, and can't clear away all the perennials and structural elements. The rule was passed by a single vote and left a residue of grumbling.

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

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!


  1. Seasonal cycles? More cloning. What a rubbish idea. Aren't you allowed winter crops and do you have to manure? I'd definitely rebel.

  2. I could have written a lot more about the rule change Sue, but discretion got the better of me! The reason for the change was to help the committee evict persistent offenders who have left their plots in an abandoned state, but there are already rules in place for that. Perhaps the change has worked in that respect though, as we seem to have had a few more worked plots recently, that were previously abandoned. Still I cannot agree with the cycle of cultivation as prescribed to us- it's an effective option for some, sure- but not the way we should be made to do it!

  3. Ugh, I must admit the main reason why I never have even applied for an allotment is that I would hate to abide by other people’s rules on how I should treat my garden. I am sure a lot of the rules are sensible and practical but I have heard of rules that are not exactly that either...I am so happy I have a garden where only I make the decisions, even if it is tiny!

    Your snake visitor gives me the creep, although part of the fauna, I’d rather see them somewhere else!

  4. Well Helene I reckon I could definitely get a bit annoyed with certain rules, but I'm trying very hard not to! How true about the freedom in your own garden, although with a rented one like our there are some draw-backs too!

    The snake was great! And each time we tell the story he gets bigger and bigger and a little more scary!!

  5. I haven't seen the tiger moth, it looks is very interesting and I can't believe how big it is. Nice capture!

  6. Ah thanks Aga! Look out for these moths- there are a lot of them around this year apparently!