Sunday, 14 February 2010

Slushy Mushy!

Kleinia abyssinica

Its that time of year again. Valentines Day. The day we are told we must spoil our loved ones. I must confess I am not a big fan of being manipulated by marketing. It does not mean that I do not wish to show my nearest and dearest how much I love him, but that I object to commercially instigated events. I’ve never seen the romance in someone having to pay five times the market value for a sterile bunch of red roses just to prove that they love their partner.

I am not really in love with the colour red either, and I certainly do not consider it to be romantic. For me red is the colour of blood, football strips and boys bedrooms in the 1980’s. A romantic bunch of flowers to me would be a bunch of big soft blousy pale pink peonies or a posy of brightly coloured deliciously delicate anemones. I love roses but not the small neat, perfectly sized completely scentless ones they sell in the shops. A rose to me should be wildly rambling up a trellis or exuding pendulously from a pergola replete with petals and summer perfume, and preferably pink.

Valentines day falls at one of the most depressing times of the year. Winter is dragging its heels; the sky is grey and the air chilled. Whilst it may bring some welcome respite to happy lovers it can be just another hard slap in the face to singletons who would rather crawl back under the duvet and not emerge until the 15th. I must admit I have felt like that on many a Valentines Day.

For me Valentines Day means something different again. Those organically minded amongst you should look away now! Valentines is a great time to get rid of the unwanted slime in your life! Yes I’m talking about slugs and snails. When I first moved to Wiltshire some years ago I was extremely excited at having my first garden. I watched it grow the first year, discovering all the plants I had inherited and busily thinking about all the ones I wanted to introduce to it the following year. When the time came, I eagerly filled the garden full of my favourite plants and flowers like delphiniums, lupins and big leaved hostas and then sat back and watched the whole lot get eaten by a tidal wave of slugs. Slug pubs had no effect against the hoards of slimy fauna. They did not even make a dent in the population. I tried to train Stilton to remove them, but he showed no interest. He prefers worms. One evening at dusk I was sombrely attempting to gather all the slugs up in a bucket, it was a losing battle against the masses. After seeing the last of my hostas had been completely devoured I rather rashly picked up a stick and angrily whacked the largest, fattest slug I could see. The result was a spray of slug juice right across my face and hair. This is possibly the most horrific event of my life to date, a trauma I will surely take to the grave. Although, come to think of it, it probably wasn’t all that great for the slug either…

I was close to giving up all hopes of having the garden I had dreamt of when a local plantsman told me to apply a liberal quantity of Slug Clear to the garden at Valentines. The liquid sinks into the soil and kills the slumbering slug population before they have a chance to wake up and start reproducing and devouring the garden. So the next year at Valentines I decided enough was enough, I had persevered with organic methods throughout the previous summer to no avail. Either the slugs were going to win or I was and I was pretty sure it was going to be me. I applied the slug clear and waited. To my amazement the slime population that year was dramatically reduced, reduced enough for me to keep it under control with slug pubs and careful removal. With experience I have learnt that there are many methods of slug control that do not involve slug whacking or chemicals. Less brutal methods such as planting plants that slugs do not like the taste of, using coffee grounds, eggshell or sharp grit around plants particularly favoured by the children of slime, or investing in nematodes are all part of a good defensive strategy against slugs and snails (although Sun Tzu says that no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy). So now above all else Valentines has become a fixed date in my mind for prudent slime control.

Laelia anceps

Happy Valentines,

RO xx


Anonymous said...

Dear RO, This is such a refreshing change. I share completely your sentiments regarding St. Valentine's Day and the way it has become hoplessly commercialised. And as for those red roses with their nasty, tight buds which never, never open. Do you imagine that, with no slight on the Chinese people intended, they, like so much else today, are produced in some giant factory in The People's Republic?

Moving on to slug control. What a ghastly experience with the slime. Not to be forgotten, I am sure, nor shall I now forget that this day, 14th. February, is the day to commence war on the slug population!

Quite by chance today, in reading your posting, I have discovered it is written with a background of music. I have truly delighted in this. Have a very happy evening.

Anna said...

Now that I know this RO I will add slug combat to pruning clematises as not to be missed Valentines Day activities. As for me I would rather have a plant than a bunch of red roses or any other flower from my true love. I like your new header and the music, although I initially jumped out of my chair, when I made my way over here :) Had the volume on much too loud but now it's most soothing.

Dan said...

I think most people probably share your Valentine sentiments, though I wonder how happy I would have been if my husband hadn't got me a card??? He also confessed that he thought I hadn't got him anything, since his little pressie wasn't on display until early evening. I don't think you have to spend a lot of money, or buy clich├ęd gifts, but I think a small token of affection every now and then is lovely - and not just on Valentines Day.
I love hostas, and also had a batch of carefully grown lupin seedlings decimated overnight on the first night I put them out to harden off, and struggled with slugs and snails until I got a little pond and the frogs moved in...
Have a great Valentines Day!

Lucy Corrander said...

Oh wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. Oh brilliant. What a cheerful end to the day! Roses and slime! I shall go to bed . . . will I even sleep? Oh yeuch. Nightmares. (Well, that pink rose is rather lovely.)


Aspidistra said...

So your slug fest gives a new meaning to the Valentine's day massacre?

I've found where all my snails are hiding this year. Behind a rock. All of them, all gummed up together. I also found that the fieldfares eat them, just like thrushes, bashing them against a rock, so I scooped up a load of them and lobbed them over to the fieldfares, best bit of organic gardening I'd done for ages.

PS Can you turn the music down a bit? I said...can you turn the...oh nevermind?:)

D said...

Hello RO and Happy Valentine's Day to you dear lady! As we declined to participate yearzz ago, the only gift my husband or I give to one another on ANY holiday or not, would generally be limited to a load of manure or some mint mulch. ;) Our favourite thing to do is fix a nice meal and accompany it with a bottle of wine to share.

Hope your weekend was a good one. Diana

RURAL magazine said...

Shall we call you Sluginator? or maybe slughacker. Sorry, but parts of this post were rather funny. I loved the whole post, and I totally agree with you on the red roses.

Never got them, prefered any other type of flower to them. And if you read Flower Confidential then you will be shocked into probably never buying them again.

For the first time in my life, when I moved into this condo, I encountered snails. And hoards of them, we have never had them where I lived before. And I had always thought they were rather romantic, little houses and all. Of course they are not!!!!

I have been throwing them over the fence to the neighbors condo for many generations of sluggy's lives. Can't bear to kill them, and now the population around here is diminished. Besides the neighboring condo has a horrible garden, pollarded trees, and they deserve the snails. LOL.

The crows like to pick up the ones that I throw over, and eat them. So we all end up happy.


Rothschild Orchid said...

Lol, I'm sorry Lucy I really didn't mean to give you nightmares.

Those roses do look like they are mass produced don't they? Like they have had every last ounce of life and beauty drained from them.

I am all for doing lovely things for your loved ones and I'm not adverse to the odd bunch of flowers or present either ;o) (just not those horrid red roses). Galileo was very thoughtful this year and helped boost my collection of stoneware pottery with a particularly nice John Calver bowl :oD

Andrea said...

Haha, i'm amused with your experience which i had with a grub when i was a kid. Yes it will haunt you to your grave as i cannot forget mine too. The green stain on my shirt was not even removed even by consecutive washings. But your flowers are really beautiful, photos as well.

The Idiot said...

Slugs and snails are something that IG Towers has in abundance. I'm trying not to think about them until I need to.

JP said...

your cat eats worms? I had no idea that was on the menu! I"ll have to offer one up and see what happens... We're big into mass slug drownings via beer in containers - seems pretty effective.
Can you please tell me about your pink flower? It's lovely, and I'm not enough of a flower connoisseur to id it; is it a peony or a specialty rose? Lovely...

Rothschild Orchid said...

Yes I am sorry about the music, I know a lot of people hate it on blogs, I won't keep it there too long, but wanted to have one of my favourite slushy love songs for Valentines :o)

Dear Andrea, I do sympathise with you, the grub incident sounds ghastly.

Hi JP,
Stilton likes to play with them more than eat them, well he kind of affectionately nibbles them! The pink flower is indeed a rose. I took the shot last summer in the garden at Peckover House, I'm afraid I don't know which one it is.

IG get them before they get you otherwise you will regret it!

The Sluginator xx

Ian said...

Great story and one with a happy ending too. And I completley agree with you when it come to Valentine's day; if you want to let someone you love them just do it, spontaneity has much greater meaning, especially if there's a fragrant pink rose involved!

Gail said...

Let me say that your photos are fantastic....and I would gladly receive a bouquet of soft pink and fragrant peonies over red roses any day. gail

Carol said...

RO, I too agree wholeheartedly with your words on the commercialism and outrageous mark up of mass un-thoughtfully produced roses. How we mark our lives with these economic hallmark dates is a big question. Being a flower arranger by profession I can say with certainty that flowers at this time of year grown in such volumes are mostly shamefully produced. I question chocolate too... questioning how it is produced... child labor is rampant in parts of the world. A company with integrity would never support those practices. I completely understand your angst with slugs... we do have to be ruthless with them. I have never heard of being sprayed by one! How disgusting! Your alternative ideas are excellent ones. I am having to constantly lift up my clay pots to deal with the slimy creeps! Your photos are lovely!

Anonymous said...

RO, I'm trying to decide whether Valentine's Day as a day for slug and slime control is some kind of metaphor. LOL -Jean

Kyna said...

Slugs come out in droves in my area. I'm afraid to start a shade garden, because I'm sure they would quickly turn the plants into mesh lol.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

yep, with you on Valentine's day. We haven't really ever celebrated it but that doesn't mean we are not romantic, just not to order!
I wonder what impact the cold weather will have on the slug population this year? I was given a huge hosta, the first I have had for years having given up the unequal battle against slug munching, so I will be out there with even more vigilance this spring. Not with a stick though.

kate smudges said...

Your tale of slug woe reminds me that one of the only advantages to gardening in this climate is the relative rarity of slimy slugs. I'm with you on my dislike of scentless rose bouquets. I'd probably be happier with tattered dandelions (but chocolate is much better!)