Joy reflects on her days spent in the polytunnel at Claver Hill community food project.
It is usually very quiet in the polytunnel. All around there are a mixture and variety of sounds, from the gentle cooing of pigeons to the loud coughing of pheasants, but I hardly ever hear a sound inside the plastic shell of the polytunnel.
Although it is quiet, I am not alone! There is a whole community of creatures living and creeping around silently inside.
There will be mice close by, although my wonderful sonar repellents keep them outside. Butterflies flutter against the walls and silent bees work away at our flowers (they do not appear to buzz!).Thousands of spiders lurk under every rock and crevice but put on a fine burst of speed when disturbed. I see very few caterpillars and an increasing number of worms – all as silent as the grave.
In fact, I may be the loudest of them all – especially when I bang my shin and let out a rude word!
Slugs do not make a noise although, I tend to squeal when I accidentally touch one. (Does anyone actually like slugs? You can eat them but they are a bit gritty and would not look appetising on the table. I suppose there are academics who find them fascinating but I do not see the appeal.)
They tell me that there are 17 types of slugs but only four types plunder and eat our vegetables. They stay in the roost all day. One or two brave souls venture out at six o’clock and by 8 o’clock I am kept busy scooping them up. But wait until 10 or 11 o’clock and it looks as if it has been raining slugs! I do not like to kill any living creature but when I found a whole planting of chard looking like Nottingham lace, totally unsaleable, I decided that it was me or the slugs. There was no point in growing treats for the slugs and buying my veg from Sainsbury’s!
More appealing are frogs and toads. The most delightful thing about them is the fact that they eat slugs! I think we have at least four living in and around the polytunnel. They make me squeal when they jump, and they often sit and stare at me in the eye which is a bit disturbing. I like to think that they are wondering what we are doing in their restaurant…
Claver Hill is a community food growing project based near the Ridge estate – behind Central High School. Anyone and everyone is welcome to come and visit the site on a Sunday afternoon – you will be welcomed and given a tour of the site. You can find out more by ‘liking’ the group’s Facebook page: Claver Hill.