How many gardeners spend their time waging war on ‘pests’ ?- slugs, snails, birds, mice, squirrels, grazing children…
We have tried growing strawberries with little success for a number of years no matter what we do someone gets to the strawberries just as they ripen, We’ve tried nets to protect the fruit from birds and squirrels only to feed our numerous shrew and mouse population. We’ve tied them up to make it harder for the mice to climb up for a feast. Last year I tried hanging strawberry bags and got the watering wrong – failure.
This spring all the strawberry plants which had overwintered in a corner of the vegetable garden were dug up. about half were put in large black plastic pots in a lovely rich leaf mould compost. The other half were planted in the a new bed in the ‘big polytunnel’. Needless to say there is a bit of a his and hers competition in the strawberry department. His were looking very healthy in the polytunnel obviously growing in a large bed. but I persevered watering, feeding and generally loving ‘my’ strawberries in the glorious greenhouse.
Almost too good to eat!
So imagine my delight to be able to serve up ‘my’ mouse free ripe strawberries as part of his special birthday pudding this week. His strawberries are ripening and feeding the lovely little shrew that seems to have set up residence in the tunnel!
And the verdict – sweet, juicy and just delicious!
Mice and voles are cute furry little creatures until they find a vegetable grower and then there is a conflict of interest! What havoc they can create – in the seed trays and in the vegetable garden. How many times over the years have we watched for the first sign of the broad beans and peas only to find that they have been munched by our friendly mice and voles and not a single one is left to grow.
This year I decided to get one step ahead of my furry friends. Beans and peas really don’t like having their roots disturbed so planting in a seed tray and then pricking out is not an option. So I have planted broad beans and french beans in little newspaper pots. A good use fo the excess newspaper and a biodegradable pot that can be popped straight into the row in the vegetable plot. I find that if you put tow or three little newspaper pots in a 9cm pot then fill with compost and plant the beans they are easy to move around and the plastic pot reduces the amount of water that is lost through evaporation.
So here is lovely little broad bean plant ready to go into the ground with a healthy root system and a few minutes later happily planted!
Broad bean in paper pot
Not that there is any competition in the household but I am hoping that ‘my broad beans’ starting life in their newspaper pot will crop far earlier than those planted by the man of the house directly into the ground – we’ll have to wait and see!