Sparrows have been the usual culprit when it comes to damaged mangetout but I’ve hardly seen any about this year and up until this week, the lack of protective netting for the mangetout hasn’t been a problem. That all changed with the arrival of a solitary pigeon. In just two days it has devoured an impressive number of the mangetout leaves – that is, it would be impressive if I wasn’t so annoyed!
With suitable netting not readily available amongst the myriad of gardening equipment and supplies already in my possession, I needed to find a solution and fast, before the plants were stripped bare.
I often find that a solution to a problem will present itself if I occupy my mind with other things and so I had a look in the greenhouse, to see what I needed to do before I could pot on the latest round of seedlings. My eye fell upon the 18 pots of sweetcorn which still needed to be planted out. The sweetcorn themselves were only between 3 and 5 inches tall which is much smaller than the 10 inches I usually use as the marker for when they need planting but needs must and, with several sowings having failed to germinate at all, this fourth and very late sowing of sweetcorn was already weeks behind where I needed it to be and so I felt I had little choice if we were to stand any chance of getting a decent crop this year.
Carrying the pots over to the bed where 8 sweetcorn were already growing and were already standing at around 1 foot 6 inches tall, a possible solution to my crop protection issue leaped out at me. To be honest it had been staring me in the face all the time but I was just so used to seeing it, I couldn‘t see it – if you see what I mean.
When I had planted the first lot of sweetcorn out, I had used the fence, plant stakes and some old wool, to rig up a criss cross matrix over the young plants, to keep the birds off them until they were old enough to hold their own, as it were. Now as I prepared to plant the remaining seedlings out I untied the wool . Once the planting was completed I placed some more plant stakes around the other three sides and recreated the ‘matrix’ by criss crossing between the original stakes and the new ones.
Stepping back to admire my handiwork, the thought occurred to me that this could possibly be used to offer protection to the mangetout. Obviously we were talking a much taller matrix created using more wool (sorry Claire), the existing fence and some taller canes and so I got to work. It may not look the prettiest of solutions but at least the wool is green (bright green) and so kind of blends into the garden.
Only time will tell if this plan works and long term we will need to invest in some bird friendly netting and not that awful pea netting stuff, from which I had to untangle a fledgling blackbird last year, whilst being thoroughly told off by the parents. I haven’t seen the pigeon at the mangetout at all this afternoon but then we have been outside pretty much all day, as the sun has been shining.
With the damage to the mangetout fresh in my mind, I then went back into the greenhouse and tried to figure out what to do with the Purple Podded Pea seedlings which were now over a foot tall and needed planting into a permanent home. After a discussion on the matter with Middle Mudlet, I came to the conclusion that the only place these could go were into a large tub in one of the greenhouses. Thirty minutes, more canes and green wool later, I had constructed a small pyramid in one of the larger flexi-tubs and planted 8 pea plants around it. These are in the large greenhouse next to the melon and should do okay, I hope. If nothing else, they will add a burst of colour as this variety of pea has a gorgeous purple/pink flower and produces deep purple pods.
Finally, with space created on the staging, I spent a pleasant half an hour or so, potting on more Czar Runner Beans, Trail of Tears Pole Beans and some Meteor Pea seedlings, the latter of which are being grown for pea shoots and not for pods. This was all done to music as one of the neighbours is having a massive outdoor party and they’ve employed a live band for the event and the songs are just up my street (well actually, thinking about it, they’re probably all over the village) and I was happily belting out Delilah whilst tenderly repotting the beans.