Allotment, Blog, Lifestyle

A Prickly Situation

Armed with my hedge trimmer, tree lopper and secateurs I launched myself into my raspberry patch over the weekend. I wondered to myself why I hadn’t also worn dog handling gloves as I lovingly lopped the prickly fruit bushes, gaining some sort of controlled chaos.

February is the time to give all these bushes a good trim, getting rid of the dead wood whilst the plants are still dormant. Make sure you wear old clothes and thick gardening gloves, you’re bound to get attacked by the thorns, even if you’re really careful.

I inherited my fruit bushes from a previous allotment owner. They take up an area at the back of my patch and include raspberries, red currents, white currents, blackcurrants and a gooseberry bush. The various bushes have provided me with plentiful soft fruits over the years, except last year, when something ate all my gooseberries. When the fruits are ripe I love giving the kids the job of harvesting them. They are each given an empty pot to fill with their chosen fruits. They each come out with an empty pot and raspberry juice around their mouths. This year I’d like to get enough raspberries home to make jam which I’ll gift to family and friends for Christmas (sorry that you all know what you’re getting for Christmas now guys).

Next, a different kind of prickly story. I was shocked recently to read The British Hedgehog Preservation Society’s 2022 report which states that the hedgehog population is in decline in the countryside. The ‘State of Britain’s Hedgehog 2022 Report‘, written with the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)  found that hedgehog numbers are down in rural areas by between 30% and 70% since 2000.

Hedgehogs have suffered a long, historic decline which means that we have lost a third of our hedgehogs since the Millennium and they are now an endangered species. The report notes differences between urban and rural hedgehog populations; mainly that in urban areas the population is becoming stable, and showing signs of recovery, however, in rural areas populations remain low.

Thankfully, hope is not lost for Britain’s only spiny mammal. The British Hedgehog Preservation Society and PTES have teamed up and created Hedgehog Street, a campaign to ensure that the hedgehog remains a familiar part of British life. On their website www.hedgehogstreet.org you can sign up to become a hedgehog champion. There are more than 100,000 hedgehog champions registered with them already and they’re helping to make a difference to hedgehogs all over the country.

The cause of hedgehog decline is complicated but there is lots that we can all do to help. The Hedgehog Street website has some top tips to make your garden hedgehog friendly, including creating a wild corner and making a hedgehog highway (gaps in the fence that link to other gardens). Hedgehogs need neighbourhoods of linked-up gardens to survive. If you think you could become a Hedgehog Champion please check out the Hedgehog Street website and sign up.