The Cottage Smallholder

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Bank Holiday Saturday, chicken pellets and slugs

Inca relaxing after a long day in the garden

Inca relaxing after a long day in the garden

The bliss of waking up to no commitments was perfect this morning. I’m working for a couple of hours tomorrow but this is good as it will finance my extravagance at the garden centre today. A happy hour spent with loads of other people enjoying the prospect of a sunny bank holiday, choosing their summer bedding, grow bags and vegetables. For the first time in months I noticed that nearly everyone was smiling.

My trolley was unwieldy from the start as I cashed in on the offer on grow bags (3 for a fiver). I bought a tray of dark blue trailing lobelia to grow through the 24 white pelargonium plants to we were given as a present. Then scoured the seed shelves for vegetable seeds that will mature mid winter. Parsnips, leeks, Savoy cabbages and curly Kale.

I splashed out on three scented geraniums – I’ll take cuttings so by the end of the summer we will have a large family again. I also bought two delphiniums (King Arthur and Black Knight) that were eaten by slugs the first summer that I moved into the cottage. And have been mourned for sixteen years.

Now I know to plant delphiniums near a tuft of lemon balm. Apparently slugs hate this. Perhaps I should cultivate lemon balm in the kitchen garden? To be effective I would need 50/50 lemon balm and vegetables. So unless lemon balm becomes a key ingredient in a future bio fuel, this is out of the question.

Our slugs are killed with milk or beer. If I find live slugs I feed them to the chickens. Carol and the Guinea Fowl adore them. They also really like the beer soaked cadavers. These are distributed early evening at cocktail hour, when egg laying is finished for the day and the flock is putting their feet up. The healthy milk corpse option doesn’t seem to have quite the same appeal.

I spent the afternoon digging slow release chicken pellets into the relevant borders in the kitchen garden – Danny used all the homemade compost in his award winning (hopefully) potato border. Luckily the pellets were 2 for 1 at the garden centre. Easy to spread but rather whiffy. They turned out to be delicious snacks for the Min Pins who circled around the boxes and hovered up any unearthed pellets. Yuk!

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  1. Joanna

    Unfortunately chickens go off slugs after a while as we found out one particularly wet summer. At first they used to fight over them as we lobbed them into their enclosure but later they would scurry over to have a look, took one look and off they went to something more exciting – anything but slugs.

  2. Veronica

    ooh, marinated slug cocktails — yum! I love the idea of the hens daintily nibbling on these while they discuss their day 🙂

  3. Domestic Executive

    Sounds like the typical way to spend a British bank holiday – you had lots of fun. We dug sheeps pellets into our potager this year and it seems to have done the trick. I couldn’t find chicken pellets here in New Zealand but having sheeps pellets makes total sense!

  4. mandi

    I have had to remove the entire contents of one of my raised vegetables because of ‘poo’ ..of the cat variety. I have tall netting surrounding each bed to stop entrance by cats or birds when the veg are growing but over the winter months whilst the bed was empty secret meetings have obviously been held in ‘B hut’ with a lot of tapping on metal beakers to alert of impending humans approaching and charlie tunnel has been dug! I’ve never considered my fat Fred as much of a charles bronson …nor has he got a small german motorbike hidden behind our garage to play steve MCqueen, but never the less he’s over the winter planted 40 or so rather unpleasant additions to my vegetable plot.
    Rather than sieve the entire thing only to then sit down to a plate of veggies later in the year and hesitate remembering the furry brown contaminants I thought it best to totally change the soil, and it was its 4 th year so could probably do with a nutrient boost anyhow.
    I have now employed a man with a german shephard dog to patrol the perimeter and building a water canon turret.
    meanwhile fred is in the hole with his favourite ping pong ball.
    De der …de der da der da….. 🙂

  5. Jackie

    Lemon balm does indeed make good tea, and I have also hung dried bunches in wardrobes and airing cupboards as I love the smell. If it takes hold, though,it isn’t half invasive!
    Meanwhile, consider yourself blessed that the min pins confine themeselves to pelleted chicken pooh. Our flock of large hens live in and around the barn and yard where we keep the ponies, and do therefore distribute a fair amount of valuable fertiliser onto concrete. Our collies consider it to be gourmet stuff!

  6. Joanna

    Lemon balm makes a lovely refreshing drink and is great in salads. I miss it as I used to have loads in my Derbyshire garden. I hope the seeds I have bought here in Latvia do turn out to be lemon balm, I don’t think it’s mint. I also hope it survives the winter, the parsley and the wild marjoram did but the new heather plant succumbed to the four months of foot deep snow.

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