They say you can always spot a newbie at the Burnham-on-Crouch allotments because they’ll be growing sweetcorn.
As a kid, the television told me that Badger loved mashed potatoes. Well, if he’s anything like the Burnham badgers, he’ll love sweetcorn more.
I tried sweetcorn for the first two years of my plot tenancy. In my debut summer, the plants grew well. I was excited as both me and Ailsa love sweetcorn. We dreamed of sultry summer evenings, barbequing juicy cobs straight from the plants.
Who Ate My Sweetcorn?
Then one morning, our dreams were shattered by an unidentified visitor, with big feet and sharp teeth. My plants were flattened and half-eaten cobs were strewn across the floor. ‘Ah, that’ll be the badgers,’ said the bloke next to me. ‘They always get the sweetcorn’.
This swiping happens every year apparently. The badgers absolutely adore sweetcorn, and plotholders have tried everything to stop it. I’m told the committee even installed some kind of high pitched sonar thing in an attempt to keep the animals away.
Growing Sweetcorn Take II
Unperturbed, I tried again in year two. I have seen badgers before, albeit dead ones by the side of the road, so I should have known that they’re big buggers. I put up a wire barrier, but it was never going to be enough, and they made mincement of my meagre defences.
Protecting the Sweetcorn and Cob Castle
So I didn’t grow sweetcorn again, but some still try, and it is about this time of the year that the protection begins in earnest. This nearby plotholder is trying a builders sack around their plants.
This effort is a little like the unsuccessful protection I used.
However, the favourite in 2011 seems to be metal fencey, gatey type stuff:
I reckon this one might just keep the badgers off.
Well, it might so long as they don’t find another way in…
Last year, a fella just down from me built what could only be described as a fortress. I’m surprised he didn’t put in for planning permission. There were palettes, old radiators, bits of the cage, and planks of wood, all lashed together with rope. This was one determined sweetcorn grower.
All was going swimmingly. The cobs were forming, and looking mighty tasty. Cob Castle was doing its job. That was, until one sunny Sunday, when I arrived at the plots to see the whole crop decimated. I couldn’t believe it. I even text my mum to tell her, such was my astonishment. How had the badgers done it?
Then I saw the big hole, freshly dug under one wall.
They’re a canny type, these badgers, so good luck to all those trying to beat the Burnham badgers – if anyone succeeds in keeping them at bay, I might even be brave enough to give sweetcorn another go myself next year!