The solution to the foxy parps on my parsnips comes in the form of another almost-patented Montgomery Acme Inc invention, the Chicken Wire Duvet. Think of it as being akin to that (apocryphal?) joke of putting cling film across a toilet opening ... but with chicken wire... and no toilet...
There will be naysayers out there that don't quite appreciate the thought that has gone into the design of this excellent tool. The chicken wire (2 strips sewn together with the wire that came wrapped around the roll) is secured at one end (nearest the fence) with nails. At the other end it is wrapped around one of the many cut branches that I have lying around and, again, secured with the wire that the roll came with.
To prevent under cover incursions, the 'duvet' is weighted down with bricks and also hooked around nails hammered into the sides of the raised bed, at heights perfectly suited to tearing the thigh muscle of a misplaced leg.
The main design flaw is clear. When those sunflowers in the top left corner of the bed grow a little bit more (i.e. in about a week), the cover will need to be rolled back out of the way.
In terms of results, the duvet has clearly shaken the south east London fox community to its core. On its first night in situ, it appears that fantastic Mr Fox jumped up expecting a cosy toilet seat on which to spend 15 minutes reading the poultry section of Country Smallholding - instead finding the protective shield of fine gauge chicken wire, it was so scared that it voided itself over the sunflower plants.
Another successful invention from the Montgomery stable then... Still, no poos since (from the foxes, in my vegetable beds - my own system is working fine, thanks for asking) and, more importantly, no unwelcome visitors trampling over the beds as my carrot and spring onion seedlings start to appear.
Marching swiftly on, some progress photos for all one of you to enjoy (hello, Adam):
My other (not ever likely to be) patented chicken wire invention seems fine (or rather it has not fallen down yet). The peas and broad beans look reasonably healthy, though I must say that the broad bean plants I see in nearby allotments and on TV appear to be much farther on than mine. Must try harder next year. Behind the 'Pea Sheath' (or whatever I called it), I planted a row of the runner beans (Benchmaster, said in the style of Dexter Fletcher, circa early '90s). All were germinated using the Walton germinate-in-a-bag method - let's see if they successfully pop out of the ground.
I have finally planted out my courgette plants (five of them), two of the butternut squashes and one of the pumpkin plants. The rest of the curcubits will be going in the raised bed that can be seen to the left of this one in the photograph. As can be seen, I am taking no chances with the cool nights, despite it being mid May...
And finally the rest of the runner beans, set in two quite deep planters and, again, germinated inside in a bag of moist compost. I will do a dedicated post on this technique later in the