Friday, 2 July 2010

Strawberry glut? what strawberry glut? where are my strawberries!

Following on from the jam making session of Wednesday, I thought hmmm lots of strawberries getting beautifully ripe, I'll pick them on Thursday and make jam with them on Friday before I head off to Lincolnshire for the weekend (yes again, but this time no house refurbishments on the agenda) and the RAF Waddington Air Show.

Whilst you'll know I've got foxcubs and that they've nearly destroyed my garden this year, you don't know that I turned the main strawberry patch into Fort Knox months ago (mainly to stop Ivor cat doing his business near food).   I used some window grilles a neighbour decided they didn't need on their house any more - not sure why as his next door neighbour has been burgled a couple of times this year.  Still, I'm not complaining, they aren't pretty but they are effective.   They're heavy enough to lean against the brick border & wall and for Ivor cat and the foxes to be baffled by them, but open enough to allow the fruit to grow & ripen.  That tall thing on the left is a poppy that just grew and it's pretty and on the end, so I let it.  A bit Heath Robinson, but very effective.

Just before I went away to Northumberland in early June, I decided to add some salads to the lone occupants of my veg patch (celery and spinach).  And I carefully laid out the 6 canes and tied them to make 1 foot square patches (do you know about Square Foot Gardening - it's great for the single girl who wants a bit of variety in her veg patch), and picked peasticks and dead branches to lay over the top and did a criss-cross of canes around the edge to discourage Ivor cat's business, and also deter the foxcubs.

Yeah right!  I got back to find all the ground mashed up, the branches broken, the seedlings tossed all over the place.  So I built another Fort Knox with some canes, trellis and plastic netting.  Slight technical hitch though, I can't get in to weed it or eat the salads.

As you can see, it's looking a bit sad, and the lawn has really suffered from the bad winter and the recent lack of rain, oh yeah and the pesky foxcubs wearing it out!  I need to change the barriers so I can get access...

I also have alpine strawberries (those tiny really fragrant ones) in a big half barrel on the patio mulched in straw.  All I've done to protect these is put those foot long green peasticks at all angles so no sane animal will try and jump up.  Or so I thought, I was in the kitchen on Thursday morning and what did I see? This...

Yes, it's blurry but can you see the cheeky foxcub bottom sticking out from the plants, silhouetted against the green compost bin?  Honestly! and it didn't look at all repentant when I knocked on the window.

Well really!  They've got lots of windfall cherries to eat, what are they doing raiding my strawberries!  So I got some garden canes and some protective white garden fleece and made a temporary open topped 'hide' around the barrel.  Didn't take a pic and should have done as I woke up this morning thinking, what's that cracking sound? Yes, the pesky vixen was busy trampling the fleece fence, in the barrel, trying to get at the strawberries.  She didn't get many, she mostly trampled them into the straw - but ewww I'm not making anything with fox trampled strawberries - not a fox that's been rampaging around our little urban slum area anyway.  However, there's still lots of flowers and unripe berries so I have made a new Fort Knox for the barrel.

I'm not sure it's going to work, but it's all I've got time to do at present with what's available at home.  It's not pretty - none of my Fort Knox's are pretty, but I'm hoping they're effective!

And after all that, I only managed to get about 10 ripe Alpine Strawberries instead of the half pound I was hoping for.  I am somewhat out of love with the rawness of mother nature right now!

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