Field Allotments Hixon
By Mrs FM
Herbs & Other
Issues And Going Green.
Alan J Hartley
To Fight The Rabbits.
One of the first things that I planted on my plot was some Rhubarb and it has done very well on the whole producing several pounds of stems with virtually no rabbit damage on the bigger plants. The first two plants had been well in growth before planting and had heaps of manure round them, but two more, planted later, were smaller and struggled with one dying and the other still somewhat stunted. I don’t know if the rabbits ate the one that died, but someone on another plot recently planted some very young rhubarb seedlings and they certainly have been eaten. I guess the small plants are sweeter and more tasty to them as well as to us! The answer for next year seems to be to make sure that any more Rhubarb plants being put in are growing strongly before planting.
My prized baby fig tree has well and truly been eaten with no sign of the stalk remaining at all and just a few dead leaves left that were stuck in the protective plastic milk bottle. Fig trees are members of the Rubber tree family and have a type of sticky latex as sap that we certainly wouldn’t eat, but obviously rabbits must find it a delicacy! I have replanted with another rooted cutting from our big tree at home and this time I have planted it very deeply so that it might re-shoot from below ground after damage and have also put a proper guard on this time. After seeing the rabbit damage I examined my other young fruit trees and saw that they had gnawed those where the guards weren’t tight and they had even gnawed higher branches that should have been out of reach. I guess they had stood on their hind legs by balancing against the fence posts that the trees are planted against! The Onions and Garlic are still doing well though with little damage and are nearly mature, so they will certainly be on the agenda for planting again next year as another suitable crop that won’t suffer too much from the rabbits without protection.
One decent sized piece of my plot remained unplanted, so with the rabbits in mind, I planted some young, winter, Curly Kale that had been grown in plugs. Seeing that one of the other plots had used some netting successfully to grow Cabbages, I bought some strong net to cover the Kale and carefully placed large stones on the edge of the net all the way round. To support the netting and hold it above the plants, I pushed in canes with upturned plastic milk bottles on top of them.
Unfortunately, not many of the plots have been taken due to them not being made available early in the year and also I suppose the dry spring putting people off, so although the recent wet spell has been very welcome it does mean that the site is now becoming a little weedy until the owners can do something about it. He has already chopped the tops off the thistles to stop them seeding which can be a nightmare on unused allotment sites. Often allotments are rotovated which can be a mixed blessing as not only does the soil get broken up, but so do the roots of persistant, perennial weeds such as Nettles, Thistles, Dandelions and Twitch Grass. Rotavated plots certainly look very enticing to prospective plot holders, but all the little bits of roots soon start to shoot and fill the plots up with weeds worse than before. On the other hand it is very easy to just push a trowel into the soft soil to flip the weeds out and a whole plot can be weeded in a couple of hours.