The slugs have descended with a vengeance. Are they wanting a restful sleep? Or do they suffer from anxiety? I ask these questions because they have devoured one of the chamomile plants. Livid, flabbergasted, furious, gobsmacked, unbelievable come to mind, as well as “murder the blighters”
Only 30cm away another chamomile untouched, but for how long?
I found one big fat yellowy brown slug hiding under some grass on the edge of the bed and sheer anger drove me to slam my foot hard on the creature. So, what is the answer. Who am I to say that slugs can’t live on this planet.
Enter a new product (well it’s new to me) – Grazers Slugs and Snails. The blurb states the liquid reduces the damage caused by slugs and snails without harming the plant or any other creature.
And as well as being an effective defence against slugs and snails the formula also, so the blurb states, strengthens and stimulates the growth of plants. A miracle product? Will it work? The problem is I quite like snails and find them kind of beautiful. Do I really want to starve them to death? Slugs on the other hand are just plain ugly. Still, the question remains, how do you deal with slugs and what would happen if all the slugs in the world disappeared. Would they be missed? Would their demise have a catastrophic effect on the planet?
The weather forecast predicts light rain over the next few days, the perfect environment for slugs. What will they eat next?
The calendula is seeding all over the plot, one plant that slugs never touch. Or am I about to be faced with a new breed of squishy obese slugs eating anything and everything. And am I about to become a slug obsessed bore!
Today was dedicated to creating an extremely small (and it is extremely small) toad haven. I know of gardeners who created a toad haven from an old grow bag, rainwater and bits of garden debris and this was originally my plan, however, after a visit to my local nursery I decided on a circular black plastic flowerpot tray – no idea why!
There is a shady narrow strip next to the wooden compost bin where the slugs and snails like to congregate, so a good spot to invite toads!
The tray is now filled with rainwater thanks to a short deluge earlier last week, and I have added a few pebbles and some horticultural grit. I am now researching on what’s the best debris to add to make it more inviting for the toads. Instead of buying a small willow screen I have started to make a screen from bits of bamboo, raspberry canes and twigs. Toad Hall is near the nettle patch so am thinking of winding nettle stalks through the twigs or sowing some trailing nasturtium seeds to create a private toad haven. A plan in the making and a lot of fun.
There is much hustle and bustle down at the allotment site. The shed shop has opened its doors; manure, compost, canes, netting, grit, liquid seaweed and other gardening paraphernalia are for sale (and at better prices than the nursery or garden centre). It feels like all our gardening smiles have come together with one big grin floating through the air.
My plot is looking quite pristine after a few weeks of raking the soil and clearing the paths but it seems a little sterile, and I can’t wait for the earth to be covered and the colourful wildness to return. As I prefer to direct sow as much as possible there are no photos of seedlings in tiny pots to show of emerging vegetables. What caught my eye today was the shape, texture and colour of emerging herbs and flowers with a couple of vegetables thrown in.
The photo does not do justice to the sheer beauty of the unfurling Columbine (Aquilegia).
Yarrow, loved by bees and butterflies and a medicinal herb arches and swirls above the earth.
Wild marjoram the tender young leave have a lemony hue which will soon turn deep green.
Each year my broad beans lag behind those growing on other plots, then come the end of April they suddenly shoot up. No idea why, it doesn’t occur with other veg I grow. Someone did mention it may be due to the depth I plant the seed.
I have spent the last few weeks clearing the paths, pulling up emerging weeds to concoct the first of the year’s weed tea (my roses seem to particularly like weed tea) and turning the compost, which will be ready to lay in a couple of weeks. Not having much to write about I have not visited the site but I did miss reading the blogs I follow. So today is a catch up day.
My first attempt at growing shallots a few years ago was a limp affair. The slugs ate the green shoots and when I dug up the shallots up they resembled spring onions. I’ve grown onions and garlic successfully so I am going to try for a successful shallot year.
Each immature bulb should give me five to six bulbs
Snug in the earth
and protected from the birds.
Inspired by the planting I decided to walk home via the nursery. After the dark winter it was a verdant oasis and for the first twenty minutes or so I was like a grasshopper flitting from one aisle to another and muttering under my breath, I want that, oh definitely want that plant, yes must grow that plant. Eventually I settled down and spent some time in the wild flower and herb sections and planning for this year.
I love reading plant names, rolling the words around, like a sacred vocabulary. A new plant for the wild flower patch this year is Digitalis Purpurea – the true foxglove, loved by the moth, foxglove pug, and of course the bees. Whilst for us humans it is toxic unless prepared by a fully qualified medical herbalist, I read that Van Gogh used the plant to treat his epilepsy.
Crocuses still blooming
That’s my update, I am now going to read my favourite blogs. Oh and if the weeds are beginning to become a nuisance, read Richard Mabey’s book Weeds, the story of Outlaw Plants. It is fascinating book and extremely readable. It gives you a zen moment of I don’t have any weeds just lovely plants.
After spending a lovely birthday weekend in the Hampshire countryside, returning to the urban landscape felt a tad grey! Which is a little exaggerated on my part as I live a few minutes walk from a large common which is both open landscape and enclosed areas with trees protecting and nurturing you from the city chaos.
A week has passed since my last visit to the plot and I did not expect to find much change. Oh how wrong was I. The garlic is pushing up through the frosty soil (solent wight).
In a week the crocuses have grown from this
to this Like a mini lightbulb growing out of the soil lighting the way to a new year. And it felt like a new year both in terms of another year older and the pushing up of goodies to come.
Aquilegia coming to life
So although I have said happy new year to 2015 in an earlier blog, I want to say it again – happy new year to new and old gardening delights, to the next chapter in the battle against slugs and snails, to obsessions with the weather forecasts and to hands covered in soil – what a wonderful feeling!