October 15, 2009
Ah, October and my garden has just reached its peak of perfection. But sorry, no photos, because the garden in question doesn’t exist yet, except inside my head. Yes, it’s that time of the year when you start looking through seed catalogues and planning what will be next year when, of course, there will be no blackleg, and no slugs, and no sawfly, and especially no caterpillars, and everything will germinate and nothing will mysteriously die or (like my garlic) simply vanish into thin air.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, we’ve eaten the last of the potatoes and the last of the broad beans. Larry the Leek is still hanging on for an occasion special enough to warrant eating him, after all he’s survived. There’s still a few small lettuces under cloches, and the broccoli is waiting till the spring. So far, this year, it’s only cost me a grand total of £6.26 to grow my own. But next year … well next year will be different.
September 10, 2009
Like me, my neighbour has been using slug pubs to control slugs in her veg patch. A few weeks ago, having pulled out the plants that the traps were protecting she went to wash out her jars. Finding that one of them had got a bit smelly she left it outside. Time passed. Rain happened. She forgot about the jar until today.
When she brought it over for me to see, it looked like this:
I suppose, where else would you find newts in the garden than in a pub?
a closer look
Anyway, lazy stereotyping aside, I’ve a feeling that there are better places for newts to be than a small glass jar, so I’ve put them and their jar down by the pond with a couple of sticks as an escape route. Any newt experts out there with a better idea, please get in touch
September 5, 2009
Just a quick entry to let you know that I’m going to London to get warm so posting will be scarce for the next few days (although why I tell you this since my stats always fall off a cliff when I do, I don’t know).
Unfortunately this means leaving my garden just as the War Against Invertebrates has hotted up – not only is there still the long-running on-going slug insurgency, but battle-hardened Cabbage White caterpillars have opened up a new front on my brassicas. So far I’m dealing with this with squashing them with extreme prejudice – it’s far too late for nets and the like – but any less gooey solutions would be appreciated.
Anyone who tells you that gardening is a relaxing hobby is clearly mad. Or drunk. Or has a gardener to do it for them.
May 14, 2009
Down at the Town Mouse veg plot, all is not coming up roses. Or rather, all is not coming up parsnips, leeks, broccoli, lettuce or squash. I thought I’d played it safe with my veg selection, going mainly for vegetables I had successfully grown in the past. But I’d underestimated the difficulty of moving from growing veg in alluvial soil in a suburban garden in the south east to clay soil in rural Scotland.
neighbour's hens, wondering why I'm not feeding them any slugs
Quite apart from the slug wars (several dozen molluscs down, several million to go), the main problem has been things simply not germinating. Either I’m planting dust, or the conditions have not been right for the seeds when I’ve planted them. It probably hasn’t helped that the weather has swung wildly from warm sunsine, to downpours, to frost, to blowing a gale, sometimes on the same day. I’ve probably been far too impatient to plant as well
Of the seeds I’ve planted I’ve had one – count ‘em – parsnip come up (now missing presumed slug’s lunch), four leeks (now half a leek), three broccoli seedlings (currently still hanging in there under bottle cloches) and no lettuces. Only one sowing of peas has germinated, the rest simply refusing to come up. In fact, apart from the broad beans, the only real successes so far have been the potatoes and the garlic, both of which I started off indoors.
So I’m replanting – again – only this time I’m doing everything I can in pots. Of course this means more expense – replacement seeds, more compost, not to mention beer – so I very much doubt whether growing my own is going to work out cost effective at least this year. Still if it gets another bit of our diet out of the clutches of the useless Tesco it will be worth it. At the moment our local one is loudly trumpeting the ‘new season’ strawberries (grown under glass in Holland) whilst stocking no asparagus – surely the culiniary highlight of the spring veg season – at all.
May 5, 2009
The slug wars continue, and the good news is that you don’t actually have to waste real beer on the slimy buggers (although if you do, the darker the better). As it’s the yeasty smell that attracts them, just mixing flour, warm water, sugar and yeast is apparently enough.
As I had to mix up yeast to make pizza dough anyway, I did some extra for the slugs. The result wasn’t going to win any Camra awards, but it smelled right and I buried a couple of jars of it around my peas and beans.
And the next morning: bingo. Dead slugs – and happy chickens. Must be the beer marinade that does it, because my neighbour’s hens couldn’t get enough of them.
the morning after
May 1, 2009
Before I left for London, I could have sworn I had some leeks. Tiny little baby leeks, still straightening themselves up after germination, but leeks nonetheless. Now what I have, after less than a week’s absence, is no leeks. Or rather, I have the gnawed-off stumps of some tiny little baby leeks, and some suspiciously fat and onion-breathed slugs*. The pathetic leek remains are now under bottle cloches, and the slugs are in the neighbour’s chicken run but today it is raining again and I imagine the slugs are doing little slug victory laps around the veg patch waiting for something else to germinate so they can eat it. And I’ll be up there tonight gathering them up and pitching them over the fence to the chickens of doom. I’m not sure the chickens actually eat them – they have already reportedly killed and eaten mice and baby rabbits, so slugs may be a tame for them – but it makes me feel better, if nothing else, and it puts several yards between the slugs and my veggies, which might at least give the poor things a head start.
I’ve a feeling this is but the opening skirmish in a battle that will run and run…
*OK, OK, I didn’t actually check their breath – I mean, would you? – but what else could it be?