17 Mar 2010

Battling with Brambles

I have gained some extra space on my plot...yippee! So I have been contemplating what to do with it. There are two raised beds, which I can put to good use. The rest of the space was riddled with brambles and other weeds. Although I don't normally dig, I think it's necessary when initially clearing a space, particularly when there are brambles. Fortunately there weren't too many brambles...nothing like last year's battle! The roots were certainly deep though! I spent an entire afternoon clearing the space. I still have a little bit more to do, but most of the hard work has been done. 
I just have to decide what to do with the space now! As it is a little shady, I was thinking about creating a bean haven, as most beans are tolerant of some shade. Last year I discovered the wonderful broad bean. I have no idea how I managed to live for all these years without ever tasting a broad bean! Well, I grew some last year and I was amazed. If I'd known how good they were I certainly would have grown more. So I'll make up for it this year and grow plenty. I'll be growing other beans too...especially the dwarf French beans. 
I was hoping to have a go at growing soya beans this year too as there are a couple of varieties that can be grown in the UK, but unfortunately Thomas and Morgan are out of stock at the moment. I had some home grown soya beans in Canada...they were delicious and had a really nice texture.

When I was raking the weeds I'd cleared, I noticed a frog jumped out, very close to where I was raking. It was lucky I didn't impale him! He was very camouflaged. I ushered him to the bushes, where he would be safe. I thought he was well out of the way, but unfortunately, about 5 minutes later I heard it squeak. When I was digging, a piece of mud rolled down the slope and must have landed on top of him. I went to check that he wasn't too injured, but he panicked thinking I was a predator, and squeaked several times before treading on a bramble. Poor thing. I couldn't see any injuries...I think he was more shocked than anything. The perils of digging! I had never heard a frog squeak before...I thought they just croaked. Anyway, I shall have to keep an eye out from now on, particularly on the paths. He is exactly the same colour as the path, so it's lucky I didn't trod on him. Whilst camouflage will protect a frog from cats and other predators, it makes it difficult for humans to see them. Frogs will always be welcome on my plot. They are wonderful creatures and they do an excellent job of controlling the slug population.

I was in the park last week and I noticed a Blue Tit appeared in a bush behind me (not the one pictured). I held out a nut and to my amazement it perched on my finger and took the nut. I couldn't believe it! Word must have got around, because a Great Tit appeared not long after. It didn't land on me but it was brave enough to perch on the branch and take the nut from my hand. They are fascinating creatures to watch. Small birds like this are sadly becoming more rare due to the increase in the number of birds of prey and cats kept as pets. Lack of food and shelter is also a problem as more and more land is cleared for building purposes.

There are two crows that I feed in the park now and then. I didn't see them much through the winter, but I have seen them recently and they still recognise me. I think crows are amazing creatures. They are very intelligent and have great characters. They are fascinating to watch. I know there are some people who dislike crows, but I often wonder why. Maybe it is because they think that crows will eat all the seeds. The crows may eat seeds, but I doubt they would eat ALL of the seeds. Here is a traditional saying: 'One for the wind, one for the crow, one to rot and one to grow'. I think some people make many enemies when growing veg, but I think if you grow more than you need, you should always have enough. People may think that they own land because they pay for it, but this is a human concept that animals and insects do not understand. As far as they are concerned the earth belongs to all beings. Whilst some may view some creatures as being enemies because they eat some veg or seeds, it is worth bearing in mind that many creatures benefit us too. For example, crows also eat insects...many of which are more of a pest to the farmer than a crow could ever be. I think it is best to realise that some veg will get eaten by other creatures, and to grow more than is needed. If too much is grown it can always be thinned out. I'm a great believer in companion planting for keeping insect pests at bay...this is such a vast subject though, I think it will need a blog post of its own! 
Whoops, I've written another essay! So much for it being just two paragraphs..I think I get a bit carried away sometimes!


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