Foraging and ethics

1 Sep

As the harvest slows down I have been reduced to freegan foraging. As I was weeding away last week I noticed some beautiful flowers growing in the communal dump area. So I picked them and gave them to my mum.

Foraging flowers

Free flowers!

The flowers set me off on a mission. I am not one hundred percent sure about the dos and don’ts of allotments. I know, obviously, that you don’t go on your neighbour’s plot scrumping. However what about unwanted wind fall? On the way to my plot I stepped over apples that were rotting and being nibbled by bees so I decided to pick up some that were still in good shape and that had fallen onto the communal path.

Foraging fruit bowl

Foraged bowl of delights!

As if to show me this was the way forward I then spotted rotting plums (which later had to be discarded as they were housing maggots!) and a bush resplendent with blackberries. The bush was outside the allotment, overhanging the entrance so it clearly belongs to the people. I picked enough for a small crumble, guilt free.

Foraging crumble

Foraged crumble.

A week later and the sunshine had sped things up again. I picked the biggest courgette yet – it was of epic marrow proportions. And I finally picked my first red tomatoes – three in total.

foraging toms

Red tomatoes at last!

The last time I went to the plot it was clear slugs were becoming a huge problem. After the bug hunt post I found another forty or so slugs only a day after doing the big clear out. I have been reliably advised that you have to (whisper it) kill them if you ever want to get rid of them. I have been wrestling with this all week. Can I really be happy killing slugs? I eat meat so it makes no sense to be  guilt ridden over a mere mollusc. But to kill (even a mollusc) is an ethical dilemma.

I searched the internet for humane solutions. There are chemicals and barriers. I have tried the granules and bought more last week but was rather disheartened when I saw a slug merrily sliding over my newly shaken pile of slug granules, making a beeline to devour more beetroot leaves. The copper tape stuff seems to work but that is only good for container grown plants.

In the end I decided the least invasive and most environmentally friendly way to deal with them is to continue removing them by (gloved) hand and also adding a few beer slug traps. As someone on the internet put it they do drown but what a way to go.

So yesterday I dug some holes and strategically placed two pots in readiness for the beer. It felt sad and also a waste of nice beer but it must be better than sprinkling some horrible chemical based poison everywhere that will take years to neutralise.


Hope they like bitter!

Slug beer traps

Beer traps in place.

By the time I had left four wasps had all ready fallen prey to the bitter-filled yoghurt pot traps. I haven’t been back since to check if some slugs have also fallen but I guess the wasps boded well to it working and not so well for the bugs on my plot. Ethically it still feels wrong but then I remind myself how more savage, chemically laden methods are used to deliver all the bug free shop bought veg I consume every week.


2 Responses to “Foraging and ethics”

  1. Gill Ridgewell. September 1, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    Your thoughts on slugs and other pests are a real reminder that there’s so much more to growing food than -well, growing it! It also has to be protected against everything nature has to throw at it – which is a lot. Also as you say how sanitised the fruit and veg we buy in the supermarket are. I remember my Dad hanging jam jars of watered jam in his apple trees to trap wasps – and it really worked! ( I hated seeing those jars of dead wasps though). Isn’t it great that ‘hedgerow fruit’ is still free for people to pick? ‘My’ blackberries in the field opposite are still green but I shall be picking them when they’re ripe and eating them with extra pleasure because they’re a peasants’ perk from ages past.xx

    • wifi allotment September 3, 2013 at 9:20 am #

      Yes! I love the term ‘peasants’ perk’! We picked more yesterday, they really are on the verge of going mushy – interesting that the ones near you are still green! I remember the wasp jam jars too and being curious about them. I took the kids to the plot yesterday and they witnessed me scoping out dead slugs from the traps (so far about 30 have succumbed) and D said ‘mummy I don’t like you killing slugs’ and I wanted to cry in agreement! Xx

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