Allotment pests

I was reading The Cottage Smallholder yesterday and noted that Fiona has to net her fruit not just to keep the birds (and her dogs) from eating the ripe fruit, but because the birds (but not the dogs) eat the unripe fruit too!

We certainly have problems at our allotments, but this isn’t one of them and I’ve devoted most of today, while I’ve been pottering around, to working out why. And I think I’ve found the answer. It’s seagulls!

Yes, while they can be a real pest, I suspect that the seagull behaviour over our allotments keeps the fruit-hunting birds away; they certainly like to land in the mornings and poke around in turned soil, but if they see smaller birds congregating on the site they tend to fly down and scare them off so that they can try and grab whatever the little birds were finding. Of course they aren’t equipped to peck fruit from bushes though. Finally, a use for the pestilential things! One person on our allotments actually has a pet seagull that he feeds with cat food on a fork – rather him than me: they have vicious beaks and always look to me like homicidal maniacs who are trying to remember where they left their axes.

We also have a rat problem, and I’m not sure what to do about it. Rats will, I’m told, dig up my root crops and eat my peas and beans, but putting down poison is a no-brainer (a) because I know it builds resistance in the intended victims and (b) there are too many dogs, cats and children on the site for bait to be safe. So, short of taking the dog up with me whenever possible, I’m not sure what to do. So far the only thing the rat has done is tunnel under the compost bin and eat some of the scraps we put in there, but I wonder what it will do next …

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, May 7, 2008


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