April 2012 – Slug Attack

I long for the day when my garden reaches a state of equilibrium and all I will need to do is to maintain it. Every year I think, ‘Next year, I’ll be there’. It must be something to do with the spring and the urge to renew and create. This year it was the offer of two little pigs, which caused me to rearrange the garden, once again. The site of our terraced vegetable garden seemed the ideal place for the pigs, as it is half shaded by a huge sycamore and protected from winds by thick hedges, but this meant moving the raised vegetable beds. Their destination was to be behind our cottage in an area previously laid to lawn. The raised beds were moved and then the onerous task of filling them with compost and manure. In all, four compost bins were emptied and a huge heap of manure. I was really pleased with the compost this year. In the winter I covered the open compost bins with old duvets and it always amazes me how you can turn weeds and old veg into beautiful soil.

In the meantime the young seedlings were queuing up in the greenhouse ready to be
planted out. Purple cauliflower, broccoli, peas and broad beans went in first.
It was with satisfaction that I looked on my neatly planted beds, but that didn’t
last long. First the hens ate all the brassicas, then undeterred by gorse
strewn over the bed, they ate a second planting. Serious measures were needed so
a new gate was put up to keep the chickens permanently out of the new veg beds
and a third planting made. Fortunately I had a good supply of seedlings. Then
after a spell of wet weather, the slugs arrived. Only having chickens this year
and no ducks, the population of slugs has exploded. The fox took our ducks last
year and I had hesitated in getting more as they are harder to keep in a pen
than chickens. The chickens have survived the fox so far this year, as I only
let them out when I’m in the garden.  However, I hadn’t realised how significant an impact the ducks made on the slug population, picking over the veg beds as I was digging. A duck and a drake are next on my list to patrol my beds!

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