Thursday, 2 October 2014

Comparing the past: October

Comparing the past: October

October 2014

October 2013

Click to enlarge pictures

Lots of changes between this year and last. Firstly, the bonfire eyesore has gone as well as the old chicken shed on the right. New vegetable beds in front of the bonfire have been created and many more fruit trees although a bit small unless you enlarge the pictures.

One of the most notable things for me is the size of the long grass. This year the grass was so much taller and thicker, so thick that it smothered the buttercups and clover. In last years photo you can clearly see the drainage channels in front of the pond but this year they are completely covered.

Another big difference is the runner beans, in front of the bonfire. Last year there were loads whereas this year the slugs got them despite repeated plantings.

This year, while cutting the paths in the long grass many many more frogs and toads have been seen which suggests that the young tadpoles have survived and are flourishing within the pond and grass. Although frogs are supposed to eat slugs the number of slugs multiplied despite the frogs and I have decided that frogs and toads are not the answer to beating slugs. The increase in good habitat for slugs and frogs, more damp hiding places, benefited slugs more than frogs. 

The new hedgehog friendly habitat created by laying down many many dead branches from and old hedge, logs and large stones, placed under the hedge on the right where the old chicken shed was hasn't produced any hedgehogs yet but it's early days I guess. I'm hoping that a family of hedgehogs may deal with some of the slugs as well as add to the diversity of life within the field.

Newts bred in the pond this year, dozens of baby newts were seen upto a month ago although the pond is now covered in duck weed and Canadian pond weed so I can't see if they are still there but the fact that tadpoles and newts were living and thriving in the same pond is good and shows that there is plenty of food for both as well as protection for tadpoles. I've only seen the Common newt this year but hopefully I'll attract some great crested newts as they are far bigger and may eat slugs.

One of things I was hoping for was that the algae would be controlled by the Canadian pond weed taking up all the nutrients but what I have seen is that regardless of the nutrient take up of the very very fast growing Canadian pond weed algae is hard to stop when there is a lot of sun hitting the water. By far the best way of dealing with algae is to reduce the sunlight as is shown by the lack of it around the Lilly pads. The flowers and plants that were supposed to provide shade around the pond simple don't help in this regard because the sun gets too high in the sky and the shading is only effective early morning as late evening. Looks like algae is here to stay since the sun hitting the water attracts many many dragonflies and damson flies and I don't want to stop that. 

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