BRIAN KIDD: Stop the pigeon! The critters are devouring my cherries

I'm behind at the allotment. The reason? The wet and windy weather we had before the heatwave.

Friday, 30th June 2017, 10:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:46 am
A Waterlooville pigeon enjoying some of Brian's cherries

The idea of digging two rows every day so all the winter digging is done before Christmas is always my aim. But when you are nearly 80, it’s important not to work when the weather is bad.

This year I’m enjoying areas of the allotment which look good and am doing a lot more hoeing with my stainless steel Swoe.

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

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The trouble is I plan to do one job then find there’s something more urgent needing to be done like netting a cherry tree because every pigeon in Waterlooville flies in and devours the fruit as if there’s no tomorrow.

The same applies to strawberries – 42 plants in a raised bed – this time attacked by crows who pulled off the fruits while they were very 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 under micromesh netting supported by plastic water piping with the netting secured by push pins in the wooden edges of the raised bed. Wonderful carrots, no carrot fly, but the other 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 drench of water. Hopefully, because the weeding was done in the evening, the carrot fly didn’t descend on to the carrots.

Everyone is concerned about blackfly, first of all on broad beans, and then on runner beans. It has been a bad year for blackfly. Derris has been withdrawn, which was one of the safest products to use on edible crops, but there is an alternative.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, is one that 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 and if applied as a spray late in the evening on a dull day the foliage isn’t scorched.

At home the garden looks wonderful because Pam is out there 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 this goes into a huge compost bin which I emptied last year. It’s now half-full and by the end of the summer will be full again. 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 taken out of the garden is returned as well-rotted compost.