I thought I’d check out the strawberry situation this afternoon, since Wimbledon is on again which means it’s getting towards strawberry season. And lo and behold: shinning ruby red berries of lusciousness! I frightened three blackbirds away from the strawberry patch: sorry guys, keep your beaks to yourselves, these beauties are all mine. Many more orange and white berries are promising to ripen next week… perfect for a Murray/Robson victory?
Made a new best friend today. While digging up the leeks in the polytunnel to transplant outside in the field, I became aware of a rustling near the top of the tunnel. Blackbirds have been in and out for a couple of weeks; but this was a gorgeous lady blackbird, which had snaffled one of the more gigantic slugs, and was happily pecking it to pieces. I didn’t want to get too close to take a pic in case it left off its important work (although it let me get pretty near without being too worried); and in the end it had pecked enough to let it lift the whole thing outside to gorge on. The bird popped back again a couple of times in the morning while I carried on digging the leeks out (maybe she was nosey); I felt a bit bad since she obviously enjoyed the cover the rows of upright leeks were offering. However, there are still plenty of slugs and snails to hunt down, and rows of salad crops and beetroot to hide in on the other half of the tunnel. I saw Norman (the toad) too, scuttling between the leek rows, and heading for the doors.
Having heard that there weren’t many bumblees around earlier this year, I think they’ve all come on holiday to my place. My green manure patch, full of red and white clover, plus lucerne (and weeds), is still flowing away happily, and it’s only a short hop from there to my broad beans, whose flowers are also teeming with bees.
However, I did notice that the brassica net must have blown off or lifted up a few weeks ago on one edge, or an intrepid cabbage white butterfly managed somehow to fly under it, and lay eggs on just one or two cabbages. The rest of the brassicas are looking pretty good; but these two poor cabbages are looking very sorry for themselves, covered in caterpillars. I’ve left the net off for a day or so, hoping that interested birds will come and eat the caterpillars – before interested pigeons realise the brassicas are up for grabs.
Seriously now. How huge are these slugs? These blighters must have overwintered somewhere snug after their feast last year, and keep appearing now in their tens on the inside and outside of polytunnel plastic, as well as in random nooks and crannies. While I do have a lady’s hand (it’s mine, I haven’t pinched it), it’s still not exactly petite and tiny (some diplomatic relatives have described my mitts as ‘creative’ or ‘practical hands’), so you can appreciate the size. Some of these slimy bounders are the size of a ruddy mouse!
Some small comfort is that since my strimming efforts last week, I seem to have attracted an army of blackbirds and thrushes, who potter in and around the tunnels, herb beds and by the raspberries every day, and even venture into the small module tunnel – startling us both. I can only hope that they have espied these slithering nuisancies, and are feasting away merrily.
The most advanced froglets are also hoping in and out of the pond now; but they are so tiny that I think these sluggy beasts will eat them, rather than the other way round…