Monday, April 18

Little house of sticks

I was like the second little pig this weekend - no I didn't eat too much - the second little pig built his house from sticks and that is what I did.

Well I didn't exactly build a house just made some adaptations to our carrot 'tent'.

Last year the 'tent' sagged in the middle when we watered the carrots which meant that the carrots in the middle got more of a deluge of water than the rest.

This year our 'tent' is higher which means that the enviromesh is more tightly stretched which helps but I decided to build a bamboo grid across the roof area to give more support and so far it seems to work. Well it did after one watering.

The enviromesh is only removed once - other than when we are harvesting - when the carrots have germinated (how's that for optimism?). When the seedlings are still fairly small we weed to cut down on competition but once the carrots are growing they can cope with the weeds and more harm is done weeding than leaving well alone. This strategy worked really well last year and as the bed is covered it doesn't look untidy. The less opportunity for the dreaded carrot fly to get in.

Unfortunately the enviromesh doesn't keep out slugs and they can devastate tiny seedlings crunching along entire rows so we do use some slug pellet protection. Again this is under the 'tent' so well away from any birds or animals.

The ground really is dry so we are watering the seed beds as often as we can to keep the compost covering moist.

Besides lots of weeding, tilling and watering we also managed to get a couple of varieties of peas planted. These were planted in shallow trenches which had been well watered. The seeds were then covered with compost and watered again and protected by some wire mesh. Hopefully this will give the emerging pea shoots some protection from clumsy animal paw prints (probably a fox) or birds. It won't protect from slugs or weevils though - there's always something that can break down your defences!
And just to show that we still have lots to do besides sowing and planting - this area still needs clearing. We left the dried sunflowers heads so the birds could browse them over winter.

Excitement on the bird box front - we now have three eggs in the nest - the little female blue tit is laying one egg each morning and then carefully covering them whilst she goes out feeding. See the latest video update by clicking the link on the sidebar.


  1. Growing veg is a constant battle against pests and diseases, isn't it? I think I have to do more crop protection than ever these days. Many of the animals seem to have lost their fear of Man. The Blackbirds and foxes are my greatest enemies. At present, the Blackbirds seem to be the worst - they scratch around in everything, in their search for insects, disturbing my precious seeds and seedlings in the process.

  2. I've bought some enviromesh but haven't used it yet (worried it might get nicked). I'm planning on using it for the carrots too. The old net curtains are doing ok in the meantime.

    Your structure looks good, I might have to copy it next year!

  3. My structures have to stop maurauding hens and determined naughty cats as well...Cassi Cat LOVES to roll around in the seed beds....

  4. It's a battle ou there isn't it, I must get on with my carrot protection!

  5. I grow Resistafly and Flyaway varieties of carrots which the flies really don't seem to like, so I use my enviromesh for covering my brassicas. It is a constant battle, though, isn't it? If it's not the slugs, snails and caterpillers, it's the whiteflies and flea beetles, and the ********** vandals don't help... (can you tell I'm losing my enthusiasm?)

  6. My goodness, you two have been busy at the plots! Garden pests sure do keep us busy...if it's not one thing it's another!!

  7. I see you have many things to do in your allotment. Must have been very busy.Good Luck!

  8. Did you notice any difference in the carrots in the middle which got more water? It's a constant struggle protecting everything against pests. Exciting news about the bird box, you've got your own little soap opera going on in there.

  9. It is Mark - in a way the blackbird problem is a mixed blessing as they are probably finding and eating nasty bugs as well as making a mess.

    Feel free to copy Lou - I haven't patented it yet.

    Mmm we do have cats roaming the plots too Compostwoman so the paw marks may be cats as well as foxes.

    It really is Damo - just wish I had the answer to whitefly! They have even survived this winter!

    Vandals are the worst of all Mrs Jones - nature I can sort of accept but senseless damage I can't. We cover our brassicas with fine mesh.

    And still plenty to do Robin

    It's good to be busy Diana and to see the progress.

    To be honest I didn't really pay much attention Jo. As for bird box opera - much more uplifting than the TV soaps which seem to be full of doom and gloom and falling out!

  10. Like the new tent construction, Sue. Neat job... fingers crossed it does the trick :-D

    Great to see some bird box action there too. All quiet here. One cam box has rooster who is bringing some material in but guessing won't nest there. The other is brand new and I'm trialing it for someone. It is still lovely and clean... but empty. Good luck with your box, looking very positive there at the moment :-D

  11. If nothing else it will keep the carrot fly off Shirl.

    Shame about your box - I enjoyed watching the progress last year. Our box was new this year and popped up just in time to catch the nesting season so we were very lucky. We have several boxes in the garden and so thought th birds were bound to choose a different one - a great tit is nesting in one of our sparrow terraces - I mentioned to a guy at the RSPB reserve that we had only had blue and great tits used it and he said he'd only had wasps in his.

    Is your box wireless as we are not convinced that it is the best option.

  12. Love the carrot housing! I think bricks make far more sense that pegs to hold the mesh down, the pegs make quite big holes, which can't be good. Interesting that you use slug pellets, something I might have to consider too in the mesh tunnel, I've seen signs of munching on my cabbage seedlings, and as you say, it is only the slugs and snails that will be getting in - and the worms. Which presumably will be OK? Oh dear, now I have more homework to do...

    Glad you showed us the "not yet done" bit! Reminds us you are human after all ;-)

  13. Ideally we would prefer not to use slug pellets, Janet but there are times when you have to compromise principles if you want to have any plants. When we do use pellets we use them as carefully as possible with due consideration to other wildlife.

    I thought I ought to show some areas that have to be tackled as I kept having comments about how tidy our plot is. We all tend not to photograph the messy bits don't we - we are definitely human with all the usual human failings!

  14. Oh lordy - carrot seeds are going into the soil tomorrow! Blessed be for slug pellets (sorry) but darn and blast those carrot fly.
    Many best wishes for the new carrot tent - looks very impressive xxx

  15. It's the whitefly that have us tearing our hair out Carrie - we can't cover everything!

  16. Love that carrot cage! I've sown carrots in deep tubs in the greenhouse this year to avoid the dreaded fly. No idea how they'll turn out tho lol.

  17. Good luck with your carrots P&M

  18. Those are some pretty impressive means of protection, I'm humbly hoping the rows of onions and garlic will be enough as we didn't get any carrot fly last year (famous last words!)

    I seem to have more trouble getting them to germinate,although this week I saw my first row come up so the soil must be warm enough now :)

  19. Congrats on the birds must be very excited to see the hatching out.

    I planted my peas this week too....I soak mine in water for a couple of days before planting to give them a head start....then I dig a trench and fill it with water...wait until it had drained down into the soil...sprinkle the peas in and then cover with soil...job done. Isn't it funny how we all have our own ways!!

    I haven't watered the plot at all.....the earth her is still lovely and damp if you go down a few inches.

    Heavy rain is forecast for sometime over the weekend but I won't hold my breath...the met office always say it's coming but when THE day arrives...they seem to have forgotten they even mentioned it!!

  20. Having peered through the enviromesh I think our carrots are coming up too Josephine.

    Yes it is exciting Tanya! We more or less sow our peas as you do but don't soak first and cover with compost. I think as well as us having our own ways - some ways work better in certain situations and with certain soil types etc. We've noticed that the predicted rain keeps disappearing too.

  21. It's human nature not to photograph the grotty bits - you have no idea how much of my garden you ~haven't~ seen!

    Am also a fan of enviromesh and as you say, it lasts for years.

  22. The trouble BW was that I felt guilty having people sy that the plot looked very tidy so I had to confess!

  23. There's nothing worse than the dreaded footprints over a seedbed. Unless it's carrot fly. This is my first year trying carrots, so I'm looking at your cage set-up with interest.


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