Thursday, 11 May 2017

The badgers got me off my guard today

In the old days, let's say 2013, I could dig and weed the flower beds in February, if they weren't frozen, enjoy the daffodils in March, put compost down for the French beans and in April think about planting leeks (or sowing them). By April Richard would have cut the lawn at least four times and by now, mid-May, we'd be enjoying the splendour of the vegetable beds. But that was then!

Since early spring this year we've been thrown by the activities of the woodland wildlife who visit our garden. They feed (and dig) our lawn and beds like it's an all-night diner. The leeks I sowed in March were scooped up one night. It made the raised beds look as if the badgers ( for it is they) had decided to become wine growers and had taken up grape-treading. I bought packs of leeks to replace my stillborn seedlings. Within days the pencil-like plants were lying flat on the soil, their roots out of the holes I'd made carefully for them with my dibber. Instead of 36 leeks I now have about ten. One of the original 36 is now thickening - the way it should - the rest are flailing around like blades of grass recently trimmed by the lawnmower. I won't be sowing my usual lettuces and leaves - can't cope with the carnage when I go forth with my watering can.

Now we have no hose pipe and garden tap at the top of the garden the vegetable beds are truly suffering. The early broad beans were upended by a badger who must have learned his technique from queuing for ice creams; watching the servers scooping vanilla ice out of a big tub.Richard has replanted his broad beans and resown more. We now have 50 small plants - far too many - as he didn't expect his first set to grow - they were for autumn sowings. Since the raised beds will have no access to the hosepipe I have sown spinach seeds (as a medicine for Richard's macular). Spinach suffer less from a lack of water. So far these seedlings haven't been interefered with. My French bean seedlings are so successful I have run out of window ledge to house them. About ten grew last year.  Most of those were eaten.This year I have more like sixty. Now I'm making space for them in our mini-greenhouse but they are going to be ready too quickly. It's been so warm they have leapt out of their seed trays like a goldfish jumping out of its bowl. (Before the cats we had a goldfish who jumped out of his bowls so often his new home became a baby's bath. We think he was a carp.)

In order to cope with too many seedlings I'm turning old flowering plants out of their barrels - hoping the badgers won't stand on hind legs to get at our brand new beans. The water butt, usually overflowing this time of the year is getting decidely short of water. It's been so dry and we haven't quite worked out how to water our vegetables now the water pipe has been shut off.  The water butt has never been in so much demand. Is it a good idea to lay a hose the full length of our garden, up two sets of steps, so we can have instant liquid for our kitchen garden? It could be 100 feet in length...

When the beans are planted how long will they last? I wanted to add more compost to a bed today. What did I find? Six heavy stones had been removed from in front of the compost bin (badger deterrent) and a scattering of rotted vegetable matter strewn around my neatly swept gravel paths. ( I only swept them yesterday.) I feel like the mother in Harold and Maude on finding her son, Harold, who has pretended to cut his wrists, spraying blood all round the mirrors in their well-appointed bathroom, (not his first quasi-suicide attempt). On seeing blood everywhere she cries 'This is tooo much!' Do I battle on or grow flowers in the raised beds next year...? I love badgers but we had a hole about a foot deep in the broad bean bed today. It's been quiet for a few days. I thought we were safe. But no. The badgers were back...They got me off my guard...

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