Archive for November, 2012


Aquilegias and Sweet Peas on show

A little quiet in the garden this week as the distraction of the renovations takes centre stage. Quiet peaceful moments can still be found in the refuge that is the garden, particularly with the emergence of aquilegia and sweet pea flowers…

The Garden In Spring

Although most of the spring bulbs have now gone, the garden is still looking pretty lush and inviting thanks to the spring rain we’ve had. The nasturtiums are looking great, but as they’ve started to take over most of the garden I’ve had to cut them back a little. All the summer veggies are growing well, including zucchinis and beans from seeds and a couple of tomatoes I bought as seedlings. More and more of my own tomatoes from the seedling experiment have been planted into the ground and continue to grow well which has made me a lot more positive about small seeds. I may end up with a lot of tomatoes at this rate – but that only makes me want to plant more! The capsicum and eggplant seedlings are still a bit too small to plant out, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll make it in time for summer (and sneak in a couple of more advanced seedlings while I’m waiting – hopefully they won’t notice).

Why I hate snails

I haven’t always been out to get snails – but I did start out naive and inexperienced… When I first grew seedlings (a few years ago) I was delighted as they germinated and grew before my eyes in the safety of the indoors. Once large enough, excited with the thought of future vegetables to harvest – I planted out some zucchini, bean and sunflower seedlings, picturing the start of what was to come. The next morning I passed through the garden on my way to work and smiled down at my seedlings, – only to find…. nothing. They were gone. All of them. At first I thought I’d simply forgotten where I’d planted them (foolish hope), but then the realisation sunk in and I began to understand all the stories I’d heard about the “gardening war”. A short search revealed all that was left was the stems/roots of the seedling under the ground. All my weeks of work and care had been destroyed in one night.

A collection after an afternoon shower (not even night yet) – what chance do my seedlings have?!

At first I tried relocating the snails onto the nature strip and further down the street. They all came back though, and brought my neighbours’ snails with them (I probably deserved that). I tried egg shells, coffee grounds, beer and orange juice traps – all which seemed useless. I then got ruthless. Frustration and desire to have a vegetable garden set in – the number of snails that have ended up under my shoe or in our numerous skips as the renovations progress would amaze you. Spotlighting at night would find 20-40 snails every dry night and 100-150 on wet nights. Every night. The saying should be changed to “breeding like snails” rather than rabbits.

Copper tape has given me a bit of relief, and I do feel I can leave the garden alone at night now. But I still lose seedlings from time to time as snails have managed to find their way under a container, or over the top with the help of nearby plants and grass. They never seem to give me a break – I have even seen snails start moving towards seedlings while I’m still planting them!

Comparison of copper tape protecting a seedling vs one without

So you tell me, what is the point of snails? What good are they to me and my garden? I actually searched for this online and the main answer I found was “food for frogs”. I have no frogs, but I am now thinking about acquiring some. The second most common answer was to consume dead plant material – however the snails never seem to do this, preferring my seedlings over anything else.  Another reason I found was “to keep gardeners humble”. Well you can see how well that went down!

Unfortunately for now the war will continue, which means I will continue to be a snail killer purely as my love for gardening is obviously much higher than my humanity for snails. But when people think I’m mean, insensitive and ask why I’m cruel to snails – I offer to help them start a vegetable garden…

Wild Strawberries

I’m still waiting for my blueberries to ripen (which seems to be taking forever), but at least fruit from my ‘wild strawberry’ plants have ripened this week. Such sweet and delicate little strawberries – unfortunately never made it inside…

You may remember back in winter I planted a range of potatoes to see if there was a variation in success of different types (see “Lots of Spuds“) They all took off and started growing really well, which made me feel great! However not long after this, two of the potato plants started to die off and one in particular (Sebago) – died completely.

Dead Sebago potatoes next to other healthy ones in the garden

Dying Ruby Lou potato plants next to other healthy ones

I was devastated! Surely it was too early for the potatoes to be ready for harvesting … what had I done wrong? The potatoes were all treated the same way, and were next to other potatoes that looked really healthy. With a heavy heart last week I decided to dig the plant up and investigate what disease or pest had ended my crop. But to my surprise and delight I found no sign of any disease or pests – instead what was waiting for me was a healthy little crop of potatoes!

Sebago potatoes

It seems without realising it I have always grown late season varieties, but in trying a mix of lots of different types of potatoes I had grown some early season ones as well. Adding to my harvest, the Ruby Lou and Pontiac potatoes were also ready this weekend. All that’s left now is to start enjoying some roast potatoes for dinner – but when they look so colourful and taste so good, who can complain about that?!

Ruby Lou & Pontiac

Our dinner, ready to go into the oven, complete with fresh herbs from the garden