The Partridge Family

early potatoesIan our grower was peacefully using the potato lifter to gather crop share contents for the week only to be properly scared when a well hidden covey of partridges flew up right next to him almost removing his hair.

Next morning he went into one of the poly tunnels first thing to water – necessary every day with the present hot weather – only to scare the same covey of partridges who had made themselves completely comfortable in the middle of the cooler crops. Ian made his way down the poly tunnel at some speed to open the door at the far end to allow the birds out.

Total chaos and quite a kerfuffle resulted. One partridge tried to exit through the polythene and stunned itself. Ian picked it up to see how badly damaged it was only to be greeted with flapping wings. So he put said bird down again and it sat there for some time before collecting its senses and exiting the poly tunnel through the nearest door.


Grower versus wildlife

cabbage white butterflyAll the cabbage white butterflies in Northumberland seem to be in the Go Local Food fields at present. They are being “rescued” from underneath the netting protecting the various brassica crops. No doubt there will be a goodly crowd of caterpillars to follow and be removed. Oh dear.

And blackbirds or bull finches are suspected by Ian the grower of causing damage to the tomatoes as well as the hot weather and Mr Mole. Net curtains on being put on all the doors of the poly tunnels to keep these rascals out. Of course they won’t keep Mr Mole out from the nice well watered soil where there are probably lots of worms to eat. Ian was quite happy to find a juvenile bull finch in one of the poly tunnels but he may well have changed his mind now.

Drinking coffee

greenfinchWhilst drinking a cup of coffee by the snug area at the Go Local Fields, Ian the grower spotted a dragonfly whizzing along close by. As it was in the shade he couldn’t say what colour it was though. A green finch also sat and watched the cup of coffee. Possibly thirsty.

Obviously there is a lack of puddles and other easy water sources for wild life. So if you can leave a shallow bowl of water out in a secluded but open corner of your garden for hedgehogs, birds, bees, other wild life this will be a kind act. But remember to change it every couple of days so that it doesn’t become a midge breeding area and top it up if required.

Mr Mole

MoleMr Mole has been tunnelling under some of the tomatoes and cucumbers in the Go Local Food poly tunnels! Naughty, naughty. Grower Ian didn’t think of this when some of the plants started to look unwell. Standing on the bed to examine the plants, one of the work boots sunk and then it dawned that there was no soil for the roots to grow into – so the ultimate deterrent will have to be applied to Mr Mole.

Let’s hope that Mr Mole doesn’t go after the late planted plum and cherry tomatoes where the seed sowing station has been cleared in another poly tunnel.

Wild life over the years

grasshopperIt’s been six years since we moved onto the Go Local Food growing site and began to cultivate the soil. Now it’s not only the members who are benefiting from the fruits of our labour – the wildlife appears to be thriving too.

We aim to grow as naturally as possible using natural pesticides as approved by the Soil Association or the Wholesome Food Association. As a result of our approach there has been a noticeable increase in the diversity of insects, mammals and birds seen on the fields. Our work shares see a wide range of bird life, insects, moles and hedgehogs.  It has been a particularly good year for voles so far, leading to more sightings of predatory birds such as Buzzards, Red Kites, Kestrels, a Tawny Owl and a pair of Barn Owls.

Insects that have been noticed include grasshoppers, dragonfly and a variety of beetles.

Not so welcome, perhaps, are the large numbers of pigeons and rabbits attracted to the field who want to help themselves to their own share of our crops growing in the field and the poly tunnels. Despite our best efforts to deter them it seems our crop share vegetables are too tasty to resist!