GARDENING: Jumping crows have eaten Brian Kidd’s strawberries

Clever crows have managed to eat Brian's strawberries even though they're covered in netting.
Clever crows have managed to eat Brian's strawberries even though they're covered in netting.
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It’s difficult keeping up with all the jobs that need doing in the garden and in particular the allotment.

Trouble is I plan to do one job then find something more urgent to do like netting a cherry tree because every pigeon in Waterlooville has devoured the fruit as if there’s no tomorrow. It’s the same with strawberries, 42 plants in a raised bed attacked by crows who pulled off the fruits while they were small. The critters jump up and down on the nets until they can peck off the fruits.

I’ve had similar problems with carrots growing beneath micromesh. Wonderful carrots, no carrot fly at all, but last night I decided to weed the bed and was astonished to find weeds so high they were pushing the net off the ground. Never mind, half the bed has been weeded and given a good soaking. Hopefully, as the weeding was done in the evening, the carrot fly didn’t land on the carrots.

Everyone is concerned about blackfly, on broad and runner beans. It has been a bad year for blackfly which goes to show that bitterly cold winters do nothing to kill those pests. Derris has been withdrawn. This 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 listed as organic. I’ve 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 isn’t looking wonderful because Pam can’t get out in the garden, but I am doing more to please her. I now take a bucket whenever I go out there because as we walk we find weeds or a plant which needs deadheading. All this goes into a huge compost bin which I emptied last year but it’s now half 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. 

When I was an apprentice, my head gardener Ernie Flowers, 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.’

A well-maintained lawn with smart edges is like having a beautiful carpet. So after the lawn is cut, cut the edges too. Last winter, all mine were redefined with a sharp half-moon iron,a job that transformed the garden.

Now, what will the next job be? Plant late Brussels sprouts? Cut the grass paths at the allotment? Concentrate on watering everything? Spray potatoes with copper mixture to prevent blight? I will concentrate on the essentials; spray to prevent potato blight AND cut the grass.at my allotment  –  a huge job.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

•If you’re looking for a garden to visit tomorrow [Sunday], try Pat and Ian Absalom’s at 17 Frobisher Grove, Portchester, from 10.30am until 4pm. They are former Gosport In Bloom winners and they’re raising cash for Parkinson’s UK. 

THIS WEEK’S TOP TIP

Growing tomatoes in a greenhouse? Don’t use tomato fertiliser when it’s hot but a general feed such as Maxicrop All Purpose with less potassium. Too much causes fruits to ripen in parts leaving hard green areas. This will prevent it.