Brian Kidd: My wacky race to stop the pigeons!

A Waterlooville pigeon looking for Brian's cherries.
A Waterlooville pigeon looking for Brian's cherries.

SOUTHSEA GREEN: Winter life at the community garden

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It’s difficult keeping up with all the jobs that need doing in the garden and, in particular, the allotment.

The trouble is I plan to do one job and then find there is something more urgent which needs to be done, like netting a cherry tree because every pigeon in Waterlooville flies in and devours the fruit.

The same applies to strawberries – 42 plants in a raised bed this time attacked by crows who pulled off the fruits when they were small. The darn critters jump up and down on the nets until they can peck off the fruits.

I have had similar problems with carrots growing underneath micromesh netting supported by plastic water piping, with the netting secured by pins pushed into the wooden edges of the raised bed.

Wonderful carrots, no carrot fly at all, but last night I decided to weed the bed and was astonished to find the weeds were so high they were pushing the net off the bed.

Never mind, half the bed has been weeded, then given a good soaking. Hopefully, because the weeding was done in the evening, the carrot fly didn’t fly on to the carrots.

Everyone is concerned about blackfly, first of all on broad beans, then on runner beans.

It has been a bad year for blackfly which goes to show that winters now do nothing to kill off those pests.

Derris has been withdrawn. It was one of the safest products to use on edible crops. But there is an alternative, Pyrethrum, which is safe if used properly late in the evening. It is listed as organic.

I have been told I may be breaking the law if I use a tablespoon of liquid soap flakes in two gallons of water, but it does a good job if applied as a spray late in the evening on a dull day so foliage isn’t scorched.

At home the garden is looking wonderful because Pam is out in the garden every day and I am doing a bit more to help her.

We now take a bucket with us whenever we go into the garden because as we walk around we find weeds, or a plant which needs deadheading.

All of this goes into a huge compost bin which I emptied last year. But it’s now half full again and by the end of the summer it will be full.

One part urine to seven parts water, sprinkled not poured, encourages hundreds of tiny red worms which break down the rubbish into wonderful compost so everything which is taken out of the garden is returned in the form of well-rotted compost.

We don’t put weeds which have seeds into the bin, it’s asking for even more weeds!

When I was an apprentice, my head gardener, Ernie Flowers (yes, that really was his name) who was in charge of Southsea rock gardens always said: ‘Make sure the grass edges look smart and visitors will forgive you if they see

a few weeds’. These words come into my mind all the time. A well-maintained lawn with smart edges is like having a beautiful carpet. So after the lawn is cut, the edges should be cut to. During the last winter, all my edges were redefined with a sharp half moon edging iron and my word, that job transformed the garden.

Now for the next job, what will it be? Plant late Brussels sprouts? Cut the grass paths at the allotment? Concentrate on watering everything which has been planted? Spray the potatoes with Copper Mixture to prevent potato blight?

I will concentrate on the essentials; spray to prevent potato blight AND cut the grass.

BLOOMIN’ MARVELLOUS

Have you lovingly tended a prized plot? Our popular annual Bloomin’ Marvellous gardening competition is open for entries – and we’d love to see pictures of your garden.

All you have to do is take a good quality photo and send it to us.

Remember, our judge Brian Kidd bases his decisions for the 10 finalists solely on your photos, so make sure you capture your garden’s best features.

First prize is £100 in vouchers from Garsons garden centre, Titchfield, with second prize £50 and third £25.

Post your photos to Bloomin’ Marvellous, c/o Ellie Pilmoor, The News, 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour, Western Road, PO6 3EN or e-mail them to bloominmarvellous@thenews.co.uk.

Include your full name, daytime telephone number and address with the photographs or e-mails you send to us. Unfortunately we’re not able to return posted prints.