Firstly living in the country has some advantages, one of which is that you can have a good bonfire without annoying your neighbours too much.
Ok so this has got very little to do with the house but part of our plan to live in Cornwall was to grow our own fruit and veg.
So, I spent hours in the late autumn digging over 3 reasonable sized vegetable beds. The plan was to make raised beds. I soon discovered there wasn’t much top soil in the veg patch. Also it had been fallow for many years resulting in masses of weeds, grass, ivy, nettles etc. So no need to go to the gym I just got stuck into clearing the veg patch.
I duly cleared and double dug 3 raised beds, Well they were ground level with timber borders with the plan being to practice “no dig gardening” for a year or two (basically just top up the bed with 10cm or so of top soil each year).
We trotted off enthusiastically to the garden centre and bought loads of seeds, planted them up on the window sill. Its great having 3 foot thick walls as there are large window sills. Our seeds were slightly mixed in how successful they were. We then bought seed potatoes and planted them in the soil and in potato bags.
After planting out the seedlings we discovered that there was a very significant challenge to gardening in Cornwall – slugs and snails. Being a moist mild climate the little slimy buggars thrive most of the year. So wanting to be “green” and organic I set about using some nematode slug control which was not really successful. Collecting slugs at night and putting them in salt water. Beer traps were deployed (they prefer cheap continental lager to bitter). Both the last two methods have the downside in that you have dead slugs to dispose of which if not done regularly can be very smelly.
These photos don’t do much for scale but these guys are about 12cm long.
So the slugs and snails decimated our crops. We tried again with bought seedlings – again devastation. Some plants are slug resistant, young peas (they do attack mature plants), fennel and maybe more.
Did you know that there are 40 different species of slugs in the UK? Most are vegetarian but some are omnivorous. You can find out more here http://www.slugwatch.co.uk/?page_id=13.
I have been asking around about how to control the slimy creatures. There are many things to try but no one method is 100% successful. I asked the gardeners at the Eden Project, where there are extensive slug free gardens outside the biomes, and the answer was a firm “slug pellets”. I am reluctant to use anything that would harm dogs or wildlife though but I will try them next year along with nematodes and here is the building bit – surround the veg patch by a hard-core path. Luckily enough I have plenty of hard core to get rid of so that is what I have started to do. The fact that I have to dig up some topsoil is serendipity.