Snail’s Pace

October 26, 2018

With an unexpectedly quiet couple of days recently, I’ve been getting on with my latest garden project – digging out the bed next to the veg patch so I can plant rhubarb and also a few more ornamental plants (or at least something more ornamental than the tussocky grass, ladies’ mantle and pink Spanish bluebells that it has been harbouring).

bed being dug

Obviously, when the planets align and I finally have gardening to be done, time in which to do it, and reasonable gardening weather, this can mean only one thing: getting distracted by an interesting side project. In this case, it was a call out for stripey snails on the so-much-more-than-a-cycling forum from which I seem to get most of my gardening information these days. As it happened, the bed I was digging out had a fair few of these stripey snails (technically banded snails) and so I offered to photograph the ones I found so that they could be assessed for stripeyness and colour, as apparently they are an interesting example of genetic variability and evolution in action. Normally, any snails I found during the course of gardening get flying lessons into the neighbouring field, but instead I have been gathering them up, photographing them (they are indeed quite variable and rather beautifully so) and then letting them wander off back into the undergrowth (as it seemed a bit off to then hurl them over the fence), a decision I may later come to regret.

gathered snails

Unfortunately for the original poster, it turns out that a good way to reduce the snail population in your garden is to offer to collect them in the interests of science, as I only managed to find 10 in total, half the number needed for a proper sample. However, I have learned something about snail genetics and have a newfound appreciation for Cepaea nemoralis – and I suspect the local thrushes also had a profitable afternoon.

piles of bluebell bulbs

Side trips into snail portraiture aside, I did also manage to make some progress on the main project, if by ‘progress’ you mean ‘digging out a metric tonne of bluebell bulbs’. I don’t kid myself I’ve done anything but thin out (or possibly reinvigorate) the actual population, but we’ll have to wait until spring to find out. The next step will be adding compost and manure, covering the bed over for winter, and then I get the fun of filling it with plants come spring. Ideally, snail resistant ones …

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Riddle me this

May 5, 2014

If we have snails all over our windows:

snails on windows

Walls:

snails on house wall

And even our door:

snail on door

Why don’t the buggers eat all the plants busily growing up through our cobbles and all over the gravel?

Also, where are all the thrushes when you need them?

Perhaps we should take up snail farming

 


Military Manoeuvres

July 25, 2012

It seems that gardeners, like generals, are compelled always to try and fight new wars using the tactics of the last. Take my brassicas. The first time I attempted to grow them they were plagued by cabbage whites. The next year I netted them against the butterflies and they were promptly munched by slugs. The year after that I planted them too close together and the broccoli bolted, not helped by a summer so grey that any right thinking vegetable of Italian origin assumed it was in fact winter. This year I have been carefully checking for caterpillars and guarding against slugs and planted everything out with reasonable spaces between them and half of them have promptly succumbed to club root. This is particularly annoying given that last year I went to the effort of testing my soil’s acidity and digging in some wood ash to bring it down a bit for the brassicas, which is supposed to help with club root. This year, I’m afraid I filed that one under too much hassle – after all, I’d never had a problem with club root – so I’ve only got myself to blame.

Of course, sometimes it works out in my favour (so far at least). Another crop which hasn’t done too well – with the exception of Seymour – has been squash. This year I decided to give my plants the best possible start in life in the hopes of raising at least one. I sowed only four seeds, paid them lavish attention, waited for a warm spell (ha!) before planting them out, put them under a cloche for extra warmth, propped them up on sticks so their leaves were out of the way of the slugs, fed them on coffee, and guarded the entrance to the cloche with a slug trap. I confidently expected perhaps one sickly infant out of all that – but all four have survived, nay thrived. One of them has even produced a female flower already. They’re crammed into far too small a space, but there’s no way I’m going to thin or move them now. They’ll just have to sprawl as best they can over the empty spaces where all my failures have been. And undoubtedly now I’ve typed all this they’ll promptly keel over from some disfiguring disease. I should probably have remembered to take a photograph before they all expire.

The slugs, meanwhile, seem to believe in taking the battle to the enemy. As I tweeted last night I was just nipping out last night to pick some spring onions when I saw this chap making a bee-line for the kitchen door.

But that was just the advance scouting party. The armoured battalions can be found lurking between the fennel and the drainpipe

I think some of them will be getting some parachute training – sans parachute – shortly.


Snails within Snails

December 13, 2011

Normally any snails I come across in my garden get flying lessons

But somehow this time, I didn’t have the heart

update

oh look, I’ve been here before


More Garden Mysteries

August 15, 2011

I know – or thought I knew – just two things about hostas. The first thing is that slugs and snails just love them. Hostas? Slugs. It’s like some word association game with only one possible outcome. And in our climate (wet, mild) and my garden (overgrown, clayey soil, adjacent to someone the Weather Gods wish to send mad) the slugs and snails are everywhere. And they eat everything, absolutely everything (including half of the mixed salad/pocket fluff crop that had been looking promising roughly half an hour before)

So it is an enduring mystery to me that, right in the heart of the good invertebrate habitat that I laughingly pretend is a flowerbed there is a clump of hostas that every year comes up looking like this, as if slugs were something that happened to other people:


Oh, and the second thing I know about hostas? I can’t stand the things.


Snails within Snails

October 19, 2009

Spotted in the garden:

snails within snails

Tragically, shortly after taking this photo I forgot about it, and there was a horrible crunch underfoot…

I know snails are just slugs with a better second home allowance, but I do hate treading on them.


There are days…

October 4, 2008

… when you can say sod the weather and get out and do things anyway.

snail_underneath
And then there are days when you just want to hole up inside and watch the snails slide slowly down the windows.

Today is one of those days.