Diary of a novice seed sower

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?

Comments

  1. slugs

    hooah!

    good god y'all

    what are they good for?

    absolutely nothing

    say it again
    -
    Credit :- http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070727100113AAn9JL2

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  2. Well some of us see them as dinner ... we have little brown snakes that eat our slugs and snails.

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  3. How disheartening. But don't give up. Dinner for the reptiles, but that is about all they are good for. My garden is damp but I have surprisingly few considering the conditions. I think the slow worms munch them at night! They do tend to like my kitchen work top though ...

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  4. Snails are good for nothing except to be eaten if you are so inclined. Go snail hunting early in the morning and see how many you can catch and drown them in beer.

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  5. A small saucer of beer placed here and there in your garden will turn them into happy drowned drunks....if you don't like the idea of contributing to snail delinquency there is a thing called slug pellets that stops them in their slimy paths.

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  6. haha - love Neil's rendition of Edwin Starr's tune 'War' - very appropiate when considering slugs.

    Must ask how come you have slugs with hens .. they must be slacking. I dont think a single slug or worm exists in my garden any longer!

    Restrict the girlies rations and make them work!

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  7. So your larkspur germinated! Sadly mine refused.

    Thanks for the link - perhaps I have a late season garden because the slugs leave the grasses alone, sadly though I can relate your post as the slugs have managed to chomp their way through a lot of stuff over the past month - the rain has brought them out in droves.

    Err - how about digging a pond and getting frogs and toads in? Just a thought :)
    K
    xx

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  8. PPS - I see that Zoe asked the same question at practically the same time
    K

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  9. I think there are ninja slugs in my greenhouse, they leap out at night and destroy my unsuspecting seedlings!

    I am getting better at seed sowing - this year I've been determined to grow cornflowers well, I know they are easy (allegedly so anyway), but I have struggled, but being more careful this year looks like it might have produced results.

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  10. Slugs were created for chickens as tasty treats!

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  11. A few tips that might help:
    Put the coldframe near the house and put some birdfeeders up near it. Birds get used to that part of the garden, and spend a lot of time on the ground as well. It works for us.
    I've never seen this in books, but I am convinced that there are slug eggs in bought as well as home-made compost. They thrive in the warm damp conditions under trays in coldframes and greenhouses, so lift your trays/pots every few days, and you will find them lurking. Flick onto the bird table!
    I live in south west Wales, where it is often warm and wet, and find that some plants just don't do well against slugs, despite coffee grounds/egg shells etc. They love the type of plant that I can only describe as 'pappy', like hostas. If it's the sort of plant that thrives in East Anglia, it won't stand a chance in wet Wales!

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  12. It is probably the first time anyone has actually asked that question and sadly I don't know the answer - could it be to try out patience, to show us that all is not easy in the garden? It can be so disheartening. I am just beginning to get into seeds too - and am thinking of trying some lupin seed as I read that lupins grow well in pots (away from slugs)

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  13. I have done more seeds this year, which reading your post reminds me, I haven't seen the cosmos, so maybe they were not a success. Rudbekia have done well and my sweet peas I am really proud of. Slugs and snails are my nemesis. I even found a liquid you could pour over the plants as a slug deterrent but it turned everything white!

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  14. Slugs are for ducks to eat. We live in Slug Heaven here on the damp west coast, but our ducks keep the population way down. Two or three would do the trick.

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  15. I fall into the three month gardener category, I always have such good intentions, but then the weather here is rarely gardening weather until April, but I usually manage to get some seeds sown under glass in March. Slug problems here too....so am reading the comments with interest. Best wishes, Posie

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  16. I have a pond with a very healthy population of frogs which tend to keep the slug population down, but they don't tend to eat the snails. I'm thinking of trying beer for the snails...

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  17. Neil - I love it!
    EE - Maybe I need to import some little brown snakes.
    Dobby I suppose I would rather they were out in the garden than on my kitchen worktop although some mornings of devastation it is a close run thing!

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  18. Nora - funnily enough I don't find loads of snails here, not nearly as many as in my city garden. Maybe that had better hiding places!
    MBJ - I have tried the beer in the past to protect peas and beans and might have another go. I have some supposedly organic slug pellets but I am not entirely persuaded they do the evil deed.
    Zoe - I think I do have fewer slugs than used to be the case and the hens certainly eat them if they are little. I wonder if the problem is just too much territory for them to cover. Great answer if so, means need more hens.

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  19. Karen - "Yes sort of" is the answer to the hen question. They do but they don't exterminate the buggers.
    Ohzene - yes, mine leap out at night too. Good luck with the cornflowers. Mine have done ok this year and are just about to flower. Think they are now too big to fall prey to slugs!
    Chris - well see above, maybe I need less garden or more chickens.

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  20. We were a slug farm here last year. I would go out at night with a head lamp on and a spoon and scoop them into a dish, then toss them into my neighbor's (unoccupied) yard. I would get a hundred or more each night, from bead-sized to thumb-sized. Yech! Finally I discovered their hiding places and once they were eliminated it was less of a battle. I also put unused caffeinated coffee grounds around vulnerable plants, and that kills the slugs immediately. I find them dead on the pile of grounds - the caffeine kills them. Not a cheap solution but I have a friend who works for a coffee roaster so got a couple of bags of stale ground beans for free - this is Seattle, after all. This year I've hardly seen any slugs, despite the wet spring. Who knows. Slugs are repugnant to me, as are snails. I read that if you have hostas you should destroy their leaves in the fall rather than composting them, because they will be full of slug eggs.

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  21. Someone suiggested whisky as opposed to beer...to make them really tipple!

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  22. Slugs. They are for practicing setting out beer traps and sneaky after-dark salting missions. Sprinkle table salt on'em and they shrivel up and die - aaaaaiieieeeeeeee!

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  23. Veg artist - thanks for the tip about cold frames. I have found that the worst of the onslaught has been in coldframes which is particularly galling because by the time plants get out there they are quite a good size.
    Weaver - I had good success with lupins and so far only a bit of slug damage. I would love to grow delphiniums but suspect that there is just no point!
    Ronnie - I am glad I am not alone in this "nemesis" feeling. With perennials I have given up trying to grow really slug tender plants, like delphiniums, as above, but hadn't thought they would decimate my annuals like this. Foolishly it turns out.

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  24. We have plagues of slugs, I've stopped buying bedding plants at all, I might as well feed ten pound notes directly into the mouths of the little b****rs - and save the heartache. Oh and yes, we too are organic. I was told that eventually the ecosystem would 'balance' and we wouldn't have a problem - well that was thirteen years ago, but no one appears to have told the slugs. Good luck, love your blog.

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