Of planting, peas, and pests

This weekend’s weather meant an enjoyable few hours up on our allotment here in Chipping Norton.  It’s hard to reconcile this summer-like weather with daffodils and blossom on the hedgerows.  The balmy days have made me feel we are very behind, yet in fact we are probably ahead of the game.

Savaged peas

Spot the savaged pea - near centre at bottom

A couple of weeks ago we planted peas. Previously we’ve grown them at home in half pop bottles, which works, but is more labour-intensive.  To save time this year, we decided to tempt fate and our little rodent friends, and put them straight in the ground.  We think we have mice on our plot –  and we know we have bank voles.

In our first season back in 2007, we heeded my daughter’s advice and soaked the peas in paraffin.  I’m not sure if it did any good … it cost a few quid in paraffin (having had to buy lots) and ruined my gardening gloves in the process!  So in 2011, peas ‘au nature’ it was.  Some 10 days later, we had ‘pea-lets’.  But 14 days later – disaster!

Young broad beans

Baby broad beans

While it seems unjust to blame everything on pigeons, they do have previous for devouring our young peas.  We arrived on Saturday morning to find quite a few tender young pea shoots on the ground – very dead.  Was it pigeons or was it mice? Just another allotment dilemma, I’m afraid.  We decided the pigeons must the culprits … they are such useful scapegoats!  So now our pea bed resembles Fort Knox, and is completely impenetrable by anything of the feathered variety.  Of course if it was the mice …

I won’t bore you with tales of our carrots, having decided I will not obsess and stress about them this year. But suffice to say … this is their last chance! On that note, our c-things are planted, as are the parsnips, swede, the first beetroot and perpetual spinach.

The onion experiment (having taken over from last year’s carrot one) continues.  Half of the little onion plants are in the ground, while the other 50% are growing on here in the plant house.  The sets are going great guns … but perhaps they realise they have competition from the seed grown onions.  All I can say is they are all being treated equally and being fed and well watered.  We don’t discriminate on Plot 66A.

The broad beans, still grown in pots back here at Allotment Central, are in the ground and all in all … it’s looking good.

All we need is some rain.  The ground is dry and watering, watering, watering … is the order of the day.


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