I like our ducks, I really do, I like watching them go about their business, listening to their funny noises and I find a sense of peace with them waddling around the garden and even more so when they settle down for a sleep in the sunshine.
But there has been something amiss in the garden, actually it's more like there is something missing. Several things really. The ducks have discovered a taste for broad bean plants. Until now they have dibbled around the plants, finding the slugs, grubs and other tasty morsels that live in the soil in and around the raised beds. Unfortunately they have stepped up a gear in their grubbing around activities and have eaten 5 of the broad bean plants.
So it was time to create some sort of barrier around the bed. Eventually I would like to put a fence around the whole of the kitchen garden to enclose it and provide more shelter from the wind, but in the meantime we need to protect our food.
This morning we had arranged to collect some paving slabs that I found (super-cheap) on eBay, so off we went in our new van (new to us that is) to pick them up. Not knowing how many we'd be able to get in the van before the suspension started complaining, we probably didn't collect enough on our first trip, but we'll know for next time.
The paving slabs will go under the shed that we found on Gumtree a couple of weeks ago to become the new chicken shed. I'm starting to get excited about this all coming together. It won't be long before we can start to erect the shed.
Before we went I checked on the electric rat trap that we switched on yesterday. It's been of absolutely no interest to the rats until yesterday. We moved the chickens' feeding station out into the paddock a few days ago and it seems that the rats are getting hungry as they have started to eat the layers pellets that we are using as bait.
This little blue box is my new favourite piece of kit. Yesterday it zapped two young rats (and our neighbour's cat caught another two) and today it has dispatched two more. One before we went to get the paving slabs and the other while we were out. I know that there are a couple more young rats and either one or two adults that had set up residence under our wood store area. I noticed earlier in the week that they had nibbled a hole in the bag of the wood shavings bale. I do wish that they didn't do damage.
After we got back from collecting the paving slabs we had a light lunch (yummy duck eggs on toast) and then headed out to the kitchen garden area to see how best to put up some sort of barrier between the ducks and our broad bean plants.
We toyed with putting up a long fence down the length of the paddock to section off the area that we have designated for the ducks. But we opted for the quick fix of putting up some wind-reducing fabric around the bed itself so that the ducks can't get at the broad beans. Or at least I hope that they can't.
It is a temporary measure but should give the young plants enough time to grow to into healthy strong ones. You can see the loops of piping that we had already put up in the raised bed to support some sort of netting, but we ended up using canes and cable ties to hold the green netting in place. The hoops will be transferred to another raised bed to support butterfly and insect netting.
It's been a busy day.
Before we went to collect the paving slabs and then after putting up the barrier around the raised bed I have been potting on seedlings and young plants. First thing this morning, I spent a quiet couple of hours or so in the kitchen using the dining table as a makeshift potting bench and pricked out several pots of seedlings. I realised that I now have so many young plants waiting for the weather to improve before they won't fit onto the staging that I have in the greenhouse, so I moved a fold-up table into the greenhouse to accommodate lots more young plants. The bonus of using this table is that it is plastic so can easily be wiped down after I've finished using it in the greenhouse.
On the wooden staging is the January King cabbage that I pricked out this morning and trays of seeds that were sown first thing today which include mangetout (Sugar Pea Oregon), Patty Pan and a white fluted edge round courgette, rainbow Swiss chard and Red Alert tomatoes.
The back of the greenhouse is still waiting for the glass to be put in it, which I will do before autumn but for now the plastic sheeting seems to be doing the job. The shelves house herbs and the bench has more tomatoes and flowers for companion planting.
The plastic folding table is now home to herbs like lovage and more of today's pricked out seedlings including butternut squash, purple sprouting broccoli, spinach and red orach together with some trays of plants like borlotti beans.
During a quick trip to our local garden centre to buy fleece, more plant tray inserts and pricking out pots I found a small tray of globe artichoke seedlings. I had wanted to grow some cardoon, mainly for it's architectural interest, but globe artichokes would be just as good and I prefer the taste of artichoke hearts to cardoon stems. So I've potted those into modules too, to grow on for a while until the risk of frost is past.
I'm delighted with how the greenhouse now looks and I'm looking forward being able to get the young plants into the garden. I feel like I've achieved quite a bit today, so I think this evening will involve some good food, a strong cuppa and a long, hot soaky bath.