24 July 2014


In the past I've baulked at the idea of netting my crops in the hope that "nature" would protect them.This year however the birds have discovered our allotment site and the sparrows in particular are ravaging the more tender seedlings such as peas,beans and chard as well as feasting on the establishing soft fruit.
So I've been trying out some netting solutions mainly using recycled materials.
The soft netting bought some years ago,which did good service combined with plastic hoops (now defunct due to sunlight), seems to work well when draped over the rows of strawberries and also over the black and red currants underplanted with rhubarb chard and lettuce.
I've also been developing a method of using the spare fence wire netting to make some crop covers.
My first try was to double over the netting to produce a fairly rigid framework and then to secure it to the ground with plastic pegs which were part of the original soft netting/plastic hoops kit .The ends are filled in some old bits of rigid netting.
On my later attempts I've threaded spare canes along the base of the hoops and wired two together,which makes a more rigid frame and they are easier to remove for harvesting or weeding.
The only current expenditure has been on a new close weave net for a brassica cage.I'd tried cheap plastic nets which ripped when being secured,and also my soft netting which had too large a mesh to keep the cabbage whites out!
The net is 10 x 8 metres ie HUGE.Initially I draped it over blue piping hoops which I've had for a couple of years but that left vast amounts of material around the perimeter,so it's now supported on poles which I bought some time ago and hadn't found a use for.
It's a bit OTT.Next year I think I'll cut it into two peices to cover separate beds using the hoops and smaller poles.

While there have been lots of slugs this year they don't seem to have caused as much damage as the birds.
My Orla potatoes seem to have suffered the most from slug damage with about a third of the crop affected,while the first early Premiere and 2nd early Blue Kestrel have been virtually pest free.
Blue Kestrel

I've just returned from a walking trip in the Austrian Tyrol and will be writing a post,with photo album, soon.

3 July 2014

June Solstice trip - Glens,Lochs and Bothies

Over the June Solstice me and two friends ,Philip and Andrew, did our traditional walking trip,this time in the area between the Great Glen and Rough Bounds of Knoydart.
Link to trip photos here 
I need to change the camera back to BST from New Zealand time!

We started from Strathan at the head of Loch Arkaig and headed for Glen Pean bothy in the late evening.From there we had a fairly short day through the rugged upper glen and down to Oban bothy on Loch Morar and then spent the afternoon exploring the immediate area.
The following day we took the good stalkers path up Gleann an Lochan Eanaiche then went down into Upper Glendessarry and over the Mam na Cloich Airde to Sourlies bothy on Loch Nevis.
Sourlies is a fairly small bothy on a junction of well trodden routes and it was fairly cramped on the second night.We had the only rain of the trip on a day walk up Glen Carnach,a very wild and beautiful area.
On the final day of the main walk we retraced our steps to Upper Glendessarry and down the lower glen to Loch Arkaig.
After a night's wild camping near the head of the loch we headed down to the outlet at the eastern end and walked round to Invermallie bothy to spend the last night of the trip.A nice bothy but I wish folks carried their rubbish out rather than let it pile up and attract vermin!