The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Our garden’s alive 24/7

Inca the Min Pin and rosa Rambling RectorThe front door opens into the cottage kitchen and from the same room the back door reveals the garden. In summertime it’s always a wrench closing the garden door when it gets too dark to see.

I keep it open for as long as possible. I’ve even been known to cook supper wearing a thick fleece. Then I can enjoy the birds and, as the light gradually fades, watch the colours in the garden slowly drift and fall asleep.

Some summers have us eating by the pond, wrapped in blankets, serenaded by the owls and the rustles in the undergrowth that indicate that hundreds of small nocturnal creatures are stepping out. Apart from the battalions of slugs and silent snails, there are mice and hedgehogs and the occasional rat. In fact, the night time cast in the garden is on a par with a Cecil B. DeMille epic. When the cast is sleeping off a long night shift, I often marvel at the damage in the morning. No empty wine bottles here just the remnants of plants and fresh, deeply scented trails that have the Min Pins rushing through the shrubbery.

I discovered that slugs had stripped bare six tender sprouting broccoli plants overnight. These are some of the 24 and are special plants grown for us by John Coe. They are netted and nurtured from the time that they are planted to the grand April harvest and festival of chomping.

I considered driving to the garden centre to buy replacements as I searched for my slug traps. John Coe gets quite worked up by people who don’t look after his plants.
“He had the cheek to ring me a week later. Not to thank me, mind you. All he said was,
˜Pigeons have stripped them bare. Can I have some more?’
No chance.”

The problem is that I don’t know whether it’s purple or white sprouting this year. If I get the colour wrong, John will spot in an instant. It’s a 50/50 gamble that I will have to take. When I replaced the torn tenrils of baby cabbage plants one year, we were all surprised to see Savoy cabbages had mysteriously infiltrated the rows.

I baited some of my slug traps with beer and the rest with milk. The latter works like a dream (once the milk goes off) but they also attract the Min Pins who have been known to dig under the nets. Frogs seem to be enticed too, sometimes I lift a lid and a pair of small round eyes peers up unblinking from the milky depths.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Debbie

    That’s a really interesting comment. Seaweed might be the answer to all our landlubber slug woes. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. i use seaweed to mulch around my plants , i live 2minutes from the sea, i have not had any problem with slugs or snails and the plants are thriving.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kay

    I reckon that slug pellets are your only answer. Or a plague of frogs!

    Hi Pat

    We have more frogs too but much more slug damage than usual. My traps are working 24/7!

    Hi Kethry

    I reckon that you are right. Several methods need to be employed simultaneously. I think that I™ll try nematodes next year.

    Hi Kate(uk)

    Poor you. That sounds terrible. We have a lot of woodpigeon here but they crash about in the trees rather than the flower beds.

    Hi Naturehills

    It™s best if the milk is old. Hope that this works for you!

    Hi Jane

    Deer are a nightmare. Luckily we don™t have them in the garden, yet.

    Hi Clare

    Thanks so much for these expert tips. I™ll definitely give them a go next year and this if I set some more seeds.

    Hi Kate(uk)

    Thanks for that tip.

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