Sneaky Blackbirds – Diary of a Rocket Gardener

My squash plants have finally started to perk up after a very slow and yellow start to the season. In the end, I determined they were not getting enough nitrogen from the composted woodchip that I’d used in the squash patch, and I added a HUGE amount of liquid feed just before we had all the heavy rains, and that seems to have done the trick. However, I have noticed a lot of the leaves have been well pecked – and this led me to consider a few other goings on in the veg patch this season. Here they are:

  • Newly planted pea plugs pulled up and left lying on top of the soil
  • French bean plants nibbled back to the stem within two days of planting – no slime trails so not slugs
  • Baby leek plants pulled out of the soil
  • Big chunks eaten out of squash plants
  • Woodchip from the paths scooped mysteriously into the raised beds

I had wondered for some time what was going on – I thought perhaps mice were pulling up seedlings, or that pigeons had got cross that I’d covered the brassicas and had decided to peck at other plants in revenge. It wasn’t until I saw a blackbird tossing around the woodchip one morning that I thought perhaps these birds might be doing some damage in the garden. I decided to investigate, and yes, they are quite good at pulling up newly planted plugs so that they can get to the worms and other creatures in the soil. They like to peck at things, and they like to use their beaks to dig around – hence the wood chip destruction.

What to do? I love blackbirds. They’re so handsome, and their songs are a good soundtrack to gardening. I think perhaps this year I will just leave them to it, and next spring I’ll cover all my new plants for the first week so that they can put their roots down firmly before being pulled up again.