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
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
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!
HAHA on 0754 118 7274
Marsh Lane Open Day
15th August 2pm BBQ, tombola, produce, stalls