‘…catch the pigeon’

It was late on Sunday afternoon when I finally managed to get away to the allotment. It was 3.45pm and the light was starting to fail. It would be dark by 4.15pm. I wasn’t prepared for the crime scene I found in the sombre gloom of our plot. Total decimation. Nothing had escaped untouched, not even the mizuna. Wood pigeons again.Quite why the mizuna should be left untouched until now, then suddenly and systematically razed to the ground I do not know. Perhaps ‘first frosted’ mizuna is a great delicacy in pigeon world and they had been saving both the mizuna and themselves for this gastronomic winter treat.

skeletal chard

All that remained were thick ribs of muzuna, chard, chicory, sorrel and kale leaves, discarded like so many fish bones, stripped bare. It would seem our only option is to net as much of the plot as we can. The prospect of imprisoning them in a netting cell ‘for their own safety’ leaves me feeling uneasy and claustrophobic. It seems against the spirit of what we are trying to do. I wonder if there are other ways to deter the pigeons ? I cant imagine they are afraid of shiny things hanging from string. They are some of the most brazen, plumpest  and well fed pigeons you will ever see. If you walk to towards them, they’ll nonchalantly keep grazing until they can see the whites of your reddening eyes. Then slowly, reluctantly, in bellows of down force, with all the commotion of fully ladened Sikorsky helicopter they take off, and lift into the air, making for the nearest suitably sized branch.

This week, I suppose, we will reluctantly buy more netting. Making note to secure it well above the tops of the plants. On Mary’s neighbouring plot, her securely netted Brussels sprouts have been dropped on from the air by leaden pigeons pushing the net right down to the sprout tops, which have been subsequently stripped.

I left the plot in the glowing dark feeling sympathetically gloomy, with not a leaf for supper.

Any ideas on pigeon protection or deterrance most welcome.


Howard Sooley

4 thoughts on “‘…catch the pigeon’

  1. Sorry you have lost all your allotment supplies. How painful.

    Have you got suitable window ledges at home? Greens grown in upstairs window-sill boxes are successfully avoiding pigeons here.
    Cold weather = lift the boxes indoors overnight, easy if they are lightweight. Sheets of cardboard protect floor covering. Warmth seeps a bit from the house so the boxes haven’t needed bringing indoors very often.
    Of course this growing method alters choice of seedlings, I’ll want plants ready to eat in a few weeks, & things that tolerate being snipped at leaf by leaf.
    Determined to keep experimenting & providing own supply of instant-fresh green leafy vegetables, I think peoples’ health and appetite both suffer without them.

  2. from twitter
    The Walled Nursery ‏@TheWalledNursery
    at Sissinghurst we used peasticks, stops the birds being able to get to the plants (not to support plants)
    Denise ‏@alansdaughter
    Netting is the only method that has worked for me I’m afraid.
    Wendy Ogden ‏@Wendusworld
    I had success with pea/bean netting – stretched horizontally. No idea what mizuna is.
    Alys Fowler ‏@AlysFowler
    -have you tried the thick black cotton trick? I still love enviromesh, frost protection and looks like cobs webs in the sun
    Joff Elphick ‏@Joffelphick
    Ditto Enviromesh. Expensive but lasts for years. And yes, looks crap! Shame they don’t do an olive coloured one
    Benjamin Ranyard ‏@higgledygarden
    The Taoist in me says…that’s the way it IS. The productive chap in me says ‘cage’. x

  3. Tin baking trays,tin foil thatis ,on strings and bendy poles have worked for me.They also look awful but the pidgeons stayed away.Do you like pidgeon meat? I expect it would be tasty with all those lovely leaves!

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