Written By Rosey Thomas Palmer
As an allotment gardener based in the East Midlands, I invite us to talk to bird watchers and to our fellow gardeners.
Recent BBC information is that swifts migrate in April, build nests, incubate their eggs for 20 days, nurture their first brood of young for 20 days then reuse their nest for a second brood. Hearing this in the second week of May, I wondered, since they were currently building their nests if they would have time for a second brood? My bird-watcher friend did not make a clear connection when she said, “For the past few years this has been their time but swifts are rarely seen in our locality now.”
Regarding my own foraging, the last day of night frost was experienced in May. April had been uncharacteristically hard and dry. Birds hungrily pecked and killed all the tender pea and bean shoots that I had planted out in the few mild pre-spring days that came before the frosty spell. The extra month of winter must have been a time of starvation for those birds who now chirp happily around my home and garden, intent on nest-building. Yet what of the humans’ harvest? Will it be significantly reduced by late and possibly short summer?
Around me, many of the more technological allotment holders are turning to polytunnels and hydroponics. As well as removing these gardeners from a dialogue with nature to the realm of engineering, these structures multiply plastics and divert attention from the urgent issue of climate change.