So far this year, my garden has presented to huge challenges that I didn't really have the experience of dealing with before.
You see pigeons didn't really seem that interested in a small patio garden in South London with high fences and winds didn't seem to be that much of a problem either.
But now I have a much more exposed garden up in the Midlands - I thought a larger garden would be the answer to a lot of my previous limitations - I can now grow roots in open soil along with many other opportuntities. However, I did not anticipate the challenges.
There are 2 main challenges with being more exposed, the first being the neighbourhood birds and the second being the weather. The weather is so challenging to work with this year not just in my garden but the country as a whole. Its mostly wet and windy. It is the opposite extreme to last year. We have to try and work with it, whatever it is ... but it does not look like we are getting much of a summer this year!
When the forecast mentioned another rainy storm with high winds was coming this week (this will be the third or fourth so far this year) my thoughts went straight to how do I protect my plot? The birds have also been pinching young tomato fruit so I need to think about protection on 2 fronts - pest and harsh weather. The tomatoes are now in a tall fleece tent kindly built by my boyfriend and the heritage peas are under netting - that should stop those pesky pigeons eating my peas! The fleece should help the tender tomatoes along in this years cool climate.
To bring the seeds on to germination, I've learnt this year about putting fleece down. The idea for this was when I saw agricultural fields covered with rows of clear plastic and I thought that they must have done this to warm up the soil to speed up germination. Well the fleece worked a treat.
So far the squash are under cloches or upside down plant pots in harsh windy weather. The main issue I am having with these is a common one - snails. Snails is something I have plenty of experience with! The other issue is that they are finding it too cold. One cucumber plant has completely perished. I'd been wondering why the leaves were looking yellow - this time I don't think it was a lack of nutrients but that the plant was completely perishing. When the squash look big and strong enough I shall be removing their cloches, but not before!
To protect against bird damage, I've been thinking of making willow weave cages to fit over the tops of my plants. I have a plant in the garden which grows branches very similar to a willow tree so I need to learn this skill.
Last year, I built a kind of a fleece tent around an aubergine that was struggling in our cold summer last year and that worked a treat. Perhaps this year I will make the cages and then if necessary drape the fleece over the top of that.
What methods of ingenuity have you found to protect your plants?