You win some, you lose some



Gardening teaches you to be pragmatic. Phlegmatic even. And perhaps a little philosophical.

You carefully select the seeds for the plants you’d love to grow. You plant the seeds and wait for them to germinate, checking every few days for the tiny shoots. (It’s such a thrill when they appear.) The seedlings grow and you carefully transfer them to larger pots, so their roots can spread and the plants can grow. You water them when the compost is dry and you shade them when the sun is too strong. You carry trays of them outdoors when the weather is fine, so they can get used to being outside, get a little buffeted by the wind and grow strong, healthy stems. You carry them back into the greenhouse at night to protect them. Then, when the conditions are right, you transfer your precious plants outside for good and tuck them into the soil. They’re on their own now, in the big wide world, taking their chances with the weather and the wildlife.

The wildlife… Thankfully I don’t have to contend with rabbits. Or deer. But what we have in abundance here this year (and I know we’re not alone) are slugs and snails. Giant slugs and snails. And these munching molluscs have been feasting on my plants. Not just a little nibble here and there out of a leaf. Oh no. These molluscs are mean. They’ve been scaling the stems of my sunflowers and long-awaited drumstick alliums and gnawing right through the stems so that the flowerheads keel over and, in some cases, fall off. It is quite dispiriting.

On the other hand, there are some plants that I’ve raised from seed this year that seem relatively unscathed (so far): the borage, Cerinthe major, most of Nicotiana (although two have been munched to the ground) and the Californian poppies are doing fine.

And the wild patch at the bottom is still blooming beautiful. So that’s good. Very good indeed.


In other news, it’s been mostly glorious weather here this week, apart from a few cracking thunder storms. I’ve been mostly stuck indoors, though, proof reading a lovely cookery book. Sitting down for long periods is most definitely not good for you, is it? I find myself almost hobbling into the kitchen to get a mug of coffee, and it takes a while to arch and stretch back into shape. I try to get up every hour or so and walk around a bit, pop into the garden, hang out the washing, run up and down the stairs, but I try not to get too distracted. I’m enjoying the work and it’s great to have it but I do find the sitting still and being indoors rather hard at this time of year. (I’m now imagining you tutting – yes, I am at home and not in an office; yes, at least I can go into the garden…)

My eldest is over half way through his GCSEs. They’re going ‘ok’ so far, he says. It’s best not to ask too many questions, I find, but I’m keeping a weather eye on him. My other two have had three days of end-of-year tests but they’re finished now. I’ve told them not to gloat. Or to even breathe a word about it.

Right, I’m off to stick a few fish fingers in the oven. I’ve spent the last few days reading delicious recipes but fish fingers is all I can summon up the energy for this evening. I don’t think the children will mind 🙂



17 thoughts on “You win some, you lose some

  1. I fancy a fish finger now :-). Sorry to read about the mollusc related damage. The swines have had my hyssop, grown from seeds :-(. Wishing your eldest luck with the remaining exams. It’s tests galore here too. I think they do far too many. Have a good rest of the week xx


  2. My big plant-pest this year is a squirrel. I don’t know what to do. We’ve tried a live trap, and did catch him (or one of his friends in it), but then the darn thing escaped. It was a calamity. I’m glad some of your plants have survived the onslaught. Hopefully you’ll have a lot of other that do later on in the season. I hope you’re having a good week!


  3. Oh how true. I share your slugs and snails, and trump them with a badger (or maybe several badgers). Every night they come and play havoc with stuff – this week they’ve dug up some potatoes, tomatoes, a cucumber, and some of my precious baby asparagus plants. I am trying very hard to practice all those ‘p’ words you suggest. It ain’t easy sometimes!


  4. Slugs and snails are SO annoying. I do empathise. How good that you are around to keep an eye on the revision and ‘be there’ just in case. The cookery book sounds good but I know what you mean. Sometimes you just have to go for easy comfort food. Enjoy! B xx


  5. As you know I have had lots of problems with slugs and snails too. It’s strange how they munch through different plants in different gardens. They have attempted to eat my borage and we have almost lost one clump of ox eye daisies! I always love looking at cookery books it must be fun to proof read one. Sarah x


  6. As Jessica says above – sometimes I think I you have to be mad. I’m a copy-editor too, and I share your pain about the hours spent indoors working while the garden is growing away outside in the sun. But it is still a good job (even if underpaid!) Loved your pictures of the meadow – what a success it is! And I wish I could grow Californian poppies too.


  7. I was having the same conversation with my neighbour over the fence yesterday evening. I’ve lost a lot this year. Every single carrot seedling for starters. Your nicotiana is looking lovely. I have a few of them left, hopefully they’ll get to the flowering stage. I found a small snail even eating flower petals yesterday. I don’t know why they don’t eat the weeds though… CJ xx


  8. The snails and slugs have all dried to a crisp this year… but I have not been very successful with my seedlings. I think the compost was not great, no variety did very well but as soon as they were planted out, they started to catch up, the few that got to this stage. I work in the middle of a ‘country estate’ (it is a university campus), and my view is trees and some more trees. Very hard to stay seated and work and I understand your desire to get up and go out gardening. Still, we are lucky, could be working in a call centre. “Going” ok seems a standard teenage answer to everything! Have a lovely rest of the week. x


  9. Why do all these plant eating thugs go for the plants we have carefully nurtured instead of the weeds? I direct sowed my beans this year and only half came up only to be promptly chomped by a slug. My plans for successional sowing have now gone out of the window – I’d just be happy with one crop.


  10. I hope that your eldest will do well in their exams. You are right, you definitely have to be a pragmatist if you are a gardener! Try things, see what does well and what doesn’t, figure it out, move things around and then, perhaps, it will all come together and if not, well, there is always next year! I think it is a very positive thing!


  11. Have you tried standing at your computer? We improvised with an IKEA bookshelf as my Stehpult.

    I have only a very small problem with snails. Two bulbs which grow their leaves flat on the ground – and which are being industriously munched by kindergarten snails. Can’t believe how much an almost too small to see snail can EAT!!


  12. One of my mother’s favorite expressions was, “if it’s not one thing, it’s another.” It certainly applies to gardening. We have had wild fluctuations in weather, leaving my poor peppers and eggplants entirely confused as to whether they want to grow or not. And an early infestation of flea beetles made lace of my exotic mustard varieties. No slug problems, fortunately. I hate them.
    Sorry you’ve been stuck inside, but at least you are not in a sterile office somewhere. Have a fun weekend Sam.


  13. Well, you know how I feel about slugs and snails just now. Today I have watered nematodes all over the vegetable garden, so we will see. My son starts doing his A levels next week and I am hoping that he will be coming home saying that they went OK too!


  14. My kids prefer fish fingers (or fish sticks, as we call them) to fresh fish any day. Judy used to cut fresh fish into rectangles, fry the rectangles, and the kids clearly preferred the stuff from the freezer. Your plague of snails sounds maddening.


  15. I have had a big slug and snail problem this year. Heart breaking when you have nutured seedlings like this. They ate every single cosmos seedling this year, so I will be cosmosless this year and grinding my teeth when I see them on blogs.


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