Although we are now in midsummer we still get stormy days which give us some lovely skies. The big skies we have in Norfolk are one of the many bonuses those of us who live here have.
But summer also brings unwelcome things, especially for those of us who grow vegetables. The damage done by insects and other wildlife to our hard work can be ruinous. The caterpillars of the Large white butterfly love cabbages and if we don’t want to use insecticides, which I’m sure those of you who read this column don’t, it can mean a trip to the greengrocer for our veg!
However, it seems that caterpillars haven’t got it all their own way. Studies by scientists have found that the increase in carbon dioxide, caused by burning fossil fuels, not only contributes to climate change but also stimulates plant growth. The problem is that the roots of the plants cannot keep pace with the top growth and therefore are not able to absorb enough nutrients from the soil, and the insects which feed on them are eating the equivalent of junk food. This will, of course, be affecting animals that feed on plants and eventually ourselves. Stock up on those vitamins and minerals!
The other things that like to feed in our gardens are slugs. However, not all slugs are herbivorous, in fact some eat other slugs, snails and carrion, so not all are harmful to your plants. Wood mice, sometimes called Field mice, will make short work of your newly planted peas and beans, digging them up virtually as soon as you plant them and they can climb trees so will take fruit as well. Other mammals which we like to see in their natural habitat, but definitely not in our vegetable garden, are rabbits, hares and deer. These animals can eat their way through our carefully planned veg in a single night; there are deterrents available but, as you will know, they don’t work with the most determined nibblers.
Norfolk County Council have been urged by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust not to cut the roadside verges as often as they do and then at the right time, at the end of summer when the plants will have had a chance to shed their seeds. The only exception should be for safety reasons, that is when the plants obscure the view for motorists. Roadside verges are havens for much wildlife and the habitat for many wild flowers which are lost when the cutters cut too often.
Good news for Eels! These fish have been fast disappearing from our county and many others which were previously homes for them. The adult Eels leave European rivers and make their way to their breeding grounds in the Sargasso sea in the North Atlantic. The young Glass eels make their way back to our shores to find the river mouths and swim up river; they are transparent at this stage in their lives, hence the name. Their habitats were either destroyed or dried up in the past and, as they are regarded as a delicacy in some parts of Asia, smuggling also drastically reduced the numbers that could grow into adults. But now they back. Records show that have been arriving in our rivers, now, and they are very welcome, to us and the wildlife that feeds on them. (So perhaps it is not such good news for the eels after all!)
I hope you all are keeping safe and well and have managed to avoid the Corona virus.
© Sheila Sims 2020. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org