Wildlife Cam

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Flying fox
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Naughty wabbit

So Santa bought me a very exciting present this year: a wildlife camera! I’ve been wanting one for years, and not just to see which little blighters have been eating certain crops (the deer prints, badger burrows and rabbit droppings kinda give the game away); but there is something very exciting even to a hardened grower or farmer about seeing your fields appearing unfamiliar snapped in the dark and the local wild nightlife out to party.

 

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Spot the redwings

The camera has infrared LEDs to work at night and a motion detector which can be adjusted for sensitivity, and can take photos or video. I set up the small box in the leek patch between Christmas and New Year just to see what was around. Although the nights were cold (several pictures of freezing fog with the glint of an eye just visible through the mists), it caught quite a bit: a flying fox, rather large and bold rabbits, lots of blackbirds and thrushes (hurrah! Eat those slugs guys!), and redwings. I’ll set it up somewhere else today I think and see who else comes to visit…

 

Turning Up The Heat

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Removing the front panel shows how the manure has started to break down already

The hot bed temperature had dropped down to a steady 15-18C, so today I took off the top pallet & seedlings, and pulled away the front panel in order to turn the heap. It was amazing to see how much the heap had sunk in just a few weeks: and so much nice white fungal growth in there, breaking down the organic matter. A good stir-up and turn-over with a fork later and the heap had increased in size again since there was more air back in the mix, and the moisture is spread out more amongst the drier strawy ingredients; so hopefully we’ll see another small spike in temperature over the next few days, no doubt to the delight of the tomato and pepper seedlings on top. The top pallet went back on again, with the seedling trays on top – almost level with the top of the hot bed frame again, so a few inches higher than it had been over the last few days. I’ve put the fleece back over the whole lot again, since the night forecast is pretty low for the next week…

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Once turned, the manure level is higher; pallet back on top with seedlings

 

Some Veg!

IMG_20140530_110949 copyThere is now some veg! Hurrah! Although the salads and herbs have been valiantly carrying on through the hungry gap, it is nice to pull some of these early Purple Haze, Yellowstone & St Valery carrots from the polytunnel. Especially since the carrots drilled in April never appeared; or if they did, they were razed off immediately, probably by blumin slugs (a la 2012). The patch of ground in the field looked pretty good when I sowed them, but it was the patch that was under water for days at a time in January and February, so I guess it’s no surprise really that hundreds of the little grey blighters lurked in the ground, as well as the giant black and brown pests. I suppose the lesson there is, even though it’s tempting to drill early, even if the weather conditions look good, and the weather forecast is good, the pest forecast has to be right too. If there’s nothing else around for them to eat,  guess they will attack what I plant out.

Miraculously the parsnips made it next door though; I think the carrots were scoffed by slugs when there was little else for them to eat; and then the week or so later when the parsnips germinated, the slugs had moved on to something else in the headlands, and newly germinated fllush of weeds. Bastards.

IMG_20140529_104803 copyThey also had pretty much the whole lot of early fennel that I planted our a couple of weeks ago. Sigh. Even more reason to celebrate the survival of all these lovely baby rainbow carrots frmo the polytunnel I suppose! I saw a toad disappear into the foliage last week, hopefully hunting down slugs. Love toads.