I have been a serious, obsessive gardener for years, but mainly between the months of March and July. Any earlier and it is too cold and wet for much venturing out for softies like me. Any later and I used to lose my head of steam and, after a glorious spring and early summer, subside into drab August, better spent at the seaside. By the time we all came home again and the kids went back to school there hardly seemed any point.
But now I have got much more interested in late season gardening. I think this is partly getting older and no longer feeling immortal. If I only have another ten or twenty or thirty years, writing off half of them as gardening time seems a bit stupid. And it is partly seeing the gardens of those, like Karen at Artist's Garden, who make their gardens sing at a time when mine used to be all dryness and flop.
So on that front I have made real changes. But seed sowing, the sign of a real gardener, was always a real problem for me. I could take cuttings with rare and glorious success but any sort of sowing direct into the ground was always a total waste of time. Maybe one tiny seedling would raise its head in an area where I was looking for a swathe of red poppies or a stand of larkspur. There, you see, I even wasn't trying to sow tricky stuff. I was just hopeless at it. And then the tiny seedling would be munched by a passing snail or stood on by me when weeding and it was all just a bit depressing.
But I have come round now. I have been dipping my toe into the world of seed sowing for a couple of years now and this year I sowed all sorts of seed in the greenhouse. I have mastered heated propagtors and the whole business of taking lids off and putting them back on again and not forgetting that I have seeds out there at all. All sorts of stuff came up: cosmos purity, quite big plants now all lined up in the cold frame, waiting to move into the wasteland that will be where the oriental poppies have been when they are all cut down in a week or two; blue lupins from some seed given to me by a friend; cosmos sulpureus in orange and yellow; wallflowers for next year (did you get that? forward thinking even!). There are rudbeckia hirta and nicotiana sylvestris, still small but growing by the day. There is larkspur and clary, smaller still but growing.
It was all going so well.
And then over the last week, morning after morning, cosmos with its heart taken out, plants felled, gaps like lost teeth in the cutting garden.
I have been growing organically for ten years or so but what I want to know is, what are slugs for?