An Allotment in Hungerford............

Considering the precarious history of the Marsh Lane site we’re amazed to be starting our sixth year! The extremely wet weather stopped us from doing our planned winter jobs so, as usual, we’re playing catch-up. So much for the lessons we learn every year.
Still, I’d rather be clearing and tidying in spring when there’s more wildlife to watch on the plot! As well as the usual garden birds, we regularly see terns and red kites flying overhead, along with the neighbourhood kestrel. The afternoon we watched a barn owl fly majestically across the site was amazing and this year I’ll be looking out for a sparrow hawk and even a kingfisher which have been spotted by another plotholder!

As allotmenteers it pays to know a little about the local wildlife. We've learned the hard way that each plant has its own beastie to contend with - If you grow it they will come! - leek moth, carrot fly, brassica bug... We use different-sized netting to protect different veg – mesh has to be small enough to stop what you’re trying to protect against and, where necessary, be large enough to let the friendly insects in for pollinating.

Oh, but the slugs! The big slugs in the compost bin aren’t the problem – it’s the little ones that live underground that do the most damage. We're using nematodes on our potato patch this year, so hope our harvest will be less holey.

Three (4?) things on my wish list for when we have a permanent site:
A Pond: Encouraging more frogs and toads to the site would be a great help against the slug and snail problem
Hedgehog Homes: I’d love the site to be a safe haven away from traffic and in return the hedgehogs would help with pest removal.
Bat Boxes: Bats eat a huge amount of insects and it’s lovely to see them swooping about when we stay for a late summer evening.
Bird and Owl Boxes: Garden birds will clear caterpillars and bugs and it would be perfect to have a resident owl to eat mice and shrews.

We welcome any wildlife that can help in our fight against the bad guys! We were among plotholders lucky enough to see a grass snake on the site last year. Not so good for the snake as it kept getting caught in netting and had to be cut free. The large lump which prevented it from manoeuvring turned out to be a toad – ugh, don’t ask me how I know that! Very interesting to see and hold a snake for the first time, but not so welcome if they’re going to eat our friendly toads!

If you fancy the idea of growing your own contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274
www.haha-hungerford.org.uk
Our Marsh Lane allotment life is recorded online through my blogs: http://www.plot7marshlane.blogspot.com/
http://plot7wildlife.blogspot.co.uk/