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

There's nothing I enjoy more than sitting up the allotment on a sunny day, listening to the sounds of nature and other allotment holders working! The Marsh Lane site is in such a beautiful spot, surrounded by hedges with the canal and Freemans Marsh beyond. Allotments seem the ideal link between town and countryside.

We get such a variety of wildlife on the site and it’s a pleasure to be able to get so close to it (most of the time). This year we’ve enjoyed watching a kestrel family – a very welcome addition to the site as they can deal with some of the small mammals which love our broad beans so much! Every plot seems to have its own robin; singing away and picking off worms and insects as they get dug up. The ever-present male pheasant struts around the plots like he owns the place - enjoying the all-you-can-eat pick-your-own that we plant and sow for him each year!

We see so many different butterflies: peacock, comma, brimstone, tortoiseshell and cabbage whites to name a few. We’ve seen some amazing looking caterpillars; spiky, hairy and multicoloured – even some tufted and with horns! All have their preferred foodstuff - often eating our young plants and nibbling off seedlings before they've had a chance to grow strong but they don’t all want our fruit and veg. A lot of them are happy eating weeds or hedgerow plants.

Each year we discover new wildlife as allotment holders get more adventurous and choose to grow different types of vegetable. Last year was the first time we saw the asparagus beetle; such an interesting looking creature emerging from the ground as a larvae, but if they’re brushed to the ground that can be enough to kill them as they don’t have the energy to climb back up the stem before dying (allegedly). A discovery this year is that bean weevils are what has been nibbling the edges of our broad bean leaves over the years – we’ve previously thought it was birds or slugs or ants.

It's not so surprising that people resort to using pesticides. It’s hard to imagine growing a field of cabbages without using vast amounts! Unfortunately altering the food chain can kill the good guys too.. Think of all those little ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies and beetles which help keep our plants pollinated and turn organic waste back into lovely rich compost.

We don’t claim to be organic on our plot; we've guiltily resorted to using slug pellets and spraying washing-up liquid on aphids but we use other protection where possible and encourage the 'friendlies' to our plots with flowers and a supply of water. Appropriate netting helps protect enough fresh chemical-free fruit and veg for us and the wildlife each year, so we'll stick with growing our own!            Contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274                        


Marsh Lane Open Day
15th August 2pm BBQ, tombola, produce, stalls