So, we know sowing seeds immeasurably improves your sense of well-being but we now need to consider the dark forces that can descend as you sleep and rob you of all this self satisfaction in a few strategic rasps their radulas.
I am referring of course to slugs.
There are many bizarre substances said to deter them: eggshell coffee grounds, beer traps, wool ..(and no doubt the eye of newt and toe of frog) They are said to be averse to copper so I have tried surrounding particularly sensitive shoots such as emerging clematis with copper rings.
My friend Louise was so exercised by slugs eating her seedlings that her husband Rob constructed a special seed bench on copper legs, confirming my hunch that behind every successful lady gardener there is an obliging man. You’ll spot the copper tape around the seedling pots, a case, Louise concedes, of taking prunes with her Allbran, but her message to you is not to bother – the copper tape is expensive and peels off – corroborated by sister Elaine.
Truthfully, (and I am now whispering) when push comes to shove I will resort to just the tiniest sprinkle of slug pellets, please don’t tell Monty Don.
Living on a farm we are also plagued by mice and voles who seem to think
our glasshouse and polytunnel have been provided to give them cosy winter quarters, and a tasty supply of pulses for their winter fodder. Seriously the only way I can germinate and grow on sweet peas is to suspend them from the ceiling with binder twine. I am growing three varieties this year; Fig and Ice, Albutt Blue, and a new introduction Lathyrus belinensis which is romping away in a very promising fashion, according to the packet it has a red and a yellow flower and an unusual coconut scent – will keep you posted.
Now rabbits are a different matter as, being country folk, we have a pack of highly trained secret weapons which can be deployed as and when necessary. It has to be a very brave rabbit to wander onto our patch.
I am struck however by how every garden has its own particular set of vermin issues, a friend of ours who gardens in the rather posh Surrey Hills had a flock of (also rather posh) ring necked parakeets descend on his precious homegrown sweet corn and strip the cobs bare in a matter of hours. Even the gentle doyenne of gardening Beth Chatto writes about having to concrete the
banks of her stream to stop an infestation of the now rare and endangered water vole (I do hope this was pre the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act or she may still get a visit from the boys in blue…) I know that Elaine, gardening on chalk at the foot of the South Downs in Eastbourne has her work cut out to keep a particular mollusc at bay…..