One of the things we found last year is that the little darlings (yes, my teeth were gritted when I typed that), really do take the mickey. We planted some lettuce, and they waited until it was growing nicely, then nipped off the stems and just ate the succulent bases, leaving the leaves in a little pile by way of saying "ner ner na ner ner" to us. They also like peas and do the same thing. We tried a few ways of stopping them but found that the allure of peas was even enough to persuade them to shin up a slick metal pot stand - we had visions of mice with crampons and ice-axes, or pole-vaulting voles...!
This year, we're going for the high-level solution, so Ellie, Guy and Brian pricked out some Winter lettuce, lamb's lettuce (also called "corn salad") and planted some peas, and we hung them on trays well above the ground. We also constructed a gadget using 2 metal chairs on the table, with a tray resting between them. Hopefully these will do the trick. We've discovered before that the key is to get the plants to a large enough stage as these choosy pests don't seem interested once the initial "gourmet treat" stage is past.
Of course we various other things before we did the vermin vanquishing stuff. Hassan and Andrea did a brilliant job with the continuing project of weeding out the fruit cage, with Tracey lending a small hand. Brian put up a much-needed shelf in the loo, so we can hopefully avoid snails enjoying the loo roll now! And we had a very nice lunch - carrot and beetroot soup (all our own produce), with bread, cheese and our own preserves - sauerkraut, green tomato chutney and green-bean piccalilli - very nice!
Recipe - Carrot & Beetroot Soup
1/2 lb / 450g carrots
1/2 lb / 450g beetroot
2 large onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 pint / 1/2 litre Vegetable stock
Coriander seed powder
Nut butter (for vegans)
Nut butter (for vegans)
- Remove leaves from beetroot, rinse then place in a pan of water and boil until soft. Leave to cool then rub off skins and dice the flesh.
- Chop onion and carrot and mince garlic.
- Saute all in a little coconut oil for around 10 minutes.
- Add vegetable stock, and around 1 teaspoon each of ground coriander and celery "salt" or more to taste.
- Bring to the boil and simmer until the carrot is soft, then blitz with a hand-blender or liquidiser.
- At this stage, if vegan you can stir in one or 2 tablespoons of your favourite nut butter, or if veggie, the same of cream cheese. It is still good without these additions, but they make it more of a meal in itself.
- Add more water if needed to give a cream soup consistency and add salt if needed.
Enjoy with fresh crusty bread (we like sourdough).