Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Blog - 1 year old today!

On this day last year, I started this blog.  I sent the link to all the people in my address book and hoped someone would read it.  It was, and still is, such a thrill to get comments and followers.  As I became more fluent in the World of Blog, I discovered that I could keep track of how many times a blog page was viewed (hits) and where in the world it was read. I love looking at the list of countries where people are reading my blog from - far flung places like Pakistan and Argentina.  Places where I have no connections, and yet someone has stumbled across the thoughts I have committed to words.  It's the magic of modern communications.

To mark this auspicious occasion, I decided to have a look at what was written last year and give some kind of an update.  This first post, and so much of my blog, discusses slugs, so following a discussion with fellow Master Gardener Trainees about slugs preferring expensive beer, I decided to carry out an experiment.

At the end of January, I planted seeds that I had saved from last years mixed leaf lettuce crop.  In a few days the ground was carpeted with tiny dicotyledons - the new lettuce crop.  But before I could even say "slimeballs", the very next morning, each and every one was gone. Many expletives later, I decided to replant and make sure I had killed as many slugs as possible.  I was pulling out all the big guns, Sluggo, the squishing stick, beer and even wine...

No, I wasn't about to drown my sorrows - just my slugs.  I put each drink into a similarly sized pot with the same diameters, set them in the soil, and labeled them A-E (just in case the slugs could read - got to keep it a fair test!)
Bet you can't guess which ones are the beer.

I left them out over night and came back the next morning and there was nothing, nada, not one slug!  In fairness, I had blanketed the garden in Sluggo, but last year I did that and still caught the slugs in the beer.  The beer was the same as last year too - well at least one of them was.  Two nights in  row and still no slugs at all. I was completely baffeled.

I went back to the crime scene with my camera to see if I could gather any more clues, wearing none other than my CSI Belfast Tee-shirt - bought for me by my friend Laura who came to stay during the summer and couldn't get over how much CSI, Criminal minds, Bones and other crime shows we watch - basically, if someone doesn't die in the first three minutes of a show, its not worth watching, and that includes House!

Upon closer examination, I discovered that the newly germinated seeds had not just been chewed down but that they had been uprooted - as in pulled out. You can see at least four shinny white stalks here.
And a closer look ...

I can only draw one of two conclusions here...

Number 1
The slugs have mutated and grown arms with which to pull up the plants before they eat them and to enable them to climb out of beer pots after having a good old drink.


Number 2
It wasn't the slugs at all!  So, if it wasn't them, who else could carry out such a precision task?  The birds perhaps?

It seems that my fight against one garden mafia family, whilst successful, has only left room for another more sinister crime syndicate.

I fortified my veggie patch with bird netting in the hope that I can have some winter produce for myself...

And not to be too despondent about things, I have a lovely crop of scallions from saved seed coming up - slug and bird free.
And the bulb garden that I planted last autumn is now blossoming.


Also, the Almond tree is in full bloom.

So despite the little upsets, the garden always gives back nice surprises too.

Byddi Lee