The Sting Operation

Welcome to the revitalised FionaGrowsFood. It’s been a crazy, hectic, heady few months here in the garden and I’ve been holding off on writing about it until I got everything in the garden organised and the site up to date. So, here we are.

2015 has been a spectacular year in the garden, despite the god-awful weather. This year, the plot is flourishing more than any previous year and I’m up to my eyeballs in produce. I’ve so much to catch you all up on over the next few days/weeks so apologies in advance for the upcoming blog post overload.

In what has probably been my greatest buzz (sigh) this year, I had an infestation of wasps a few weeks ago. Now, me, being me, I didn’t even notice the monstrous nest inside my birdhouse, until it began to spill outside the box and there were hundreds of angry wasps crawling on everything; including my arms and legs. By the time I realised I had a serious problem, it was too late to just smoke them out. The wasps had taken over and I was run off my allotment in an embarrassing incident involving much squealing, yelping and maniacal flapping of my arms.

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The scene of the crime (no photos of actual wasps because I was too afraid to get close)

Over the following weeks, I exhausted many options attempting to get rid of the nest. Despite the fact that wasps are the only insect to really terrify me and turn me into a total wuss, they are also quite beneficial in the garden and I really didn’t want to kill them off. In the interest of being an environmentalist and a bit of a wildlife fanatic, I made a few attempts to remove the hive without killing the wasps but to no avail. I attempted to remove the birdhouse myself, which was an absolute disaster. I tried to block up the entrances to the hive, which was an even bigger disaster. Imagine hundreds of wasps dive-bombing my person with reckless abandon and you get the picture.

And so it came to pass, after three weeks of avoiding my allotment like an accidental right swipe on tinder, I had to take the bull by the horns (the wasp by the wings even) and reluctantly kill them. I bunkered down in my war room (shed) to come up with a strategy for the elimination of the enemy. A plan was drawn up, codename: Buzzkill, a covert guerrilla warfare operation to be carried out against the nest at 0900 hours on a rainy Saturday in July.

Let me set the scene:  A young soldier inches her way towards a wasp nest with a giant plastic bag in hands. She’s doing a bit of a backwards-Michael-Jackson-in-Smooth-Criminal-stance (you know the one) and attempting to throw the bag over the birdhouse. All the while, she’s gathered quite the audience of bemused fellow allotment holders – who have since dubbed her “waspy” – who not so much egg her on, as laugh at her while she jumps and twitches around the plot. After much hesitation and twenty minutes of backing away at the last moment, she throws the black sack over the nest to rapturous applause and some pats on the back. Her work, however, has just begun. 

Now, my reasons for putting the bag over the nest were twofold; not only did I assume it would keep the dying wasps from escaping the nest and stinging me to within an inch of my life, but I also had to use a poison to kill them and those of you who read my blog know how I feel about chemicals and pesticides. Sadly, after three years of never using any chemicals on my plot, I had no choice but to use a pesticide to kill the nest. The plastic bag was an attempt to keep the poison localised to one place and away from my precious veggies. Once I had the bag in place, I emptied a full bottle of wasp poison into the nest and ran like hell yelling “you may take my birdhouse, but you may never take, my freedom”. Then, I was arrested, hung drawn and quartered, and my remains scattered around the four corners of the plot (I’d like to point out that sometimes I get myself confused with Mel Gibson characters, it’s an ongoing problem, I’m seeking the appropriate help).

The wasps all died within the hour, the queen and her subjects annihilated and I was safe to garden again. Nothing like a bit of casual regicide on a Saturday afternoon.

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The birdhouse, with bag still in situ

I’ve kept the birdhouse, sans wasps, on my shed for the past two weeks as a trophy. The black plastic blowing in the wind as a warning to all other wasps to stay away. Well, either that or I’m a little bit afraid there may still be a renegade wasp in there waiting to attack me. You decide.

The only real positive outcome from all this excitement, is that I was unable to stray near one side of my plot for a while so I had time to tidy up the bad corner of the garden. The corner I’ve never done anything with and had allowed to become an overgrown, weed-choked wasteland, is finally weed free. I’ve even planted a flower bed along the border and installed a raised bed which I intend to use as a hot bed. As such, the great wasp invasion of summer 2015 resulted in the reclamation of unused land and finally, the knowledge that there is now, no unused space on the plot. Success.

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The badlands in January

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Hell of a difference in July!

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As for the wasps, I have minimal guilt. The real sting in the tale is this: I spent four weeks doing battle with wasps and I didn’t get one sting. Five minutes after I killed them, I was assaulted by a five foot tall rogue nettle and ended up with nettle stings all over my face, neck and arms.

The perils of gardening…

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