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Monday, 24 August 2009

Summer Update

I thought that this week I would give you an update on all of the recent ups and downs of garden life…

Where there’s a will there’s a wormery: I’ll be honest with you, it’s not going well. I killed most of the worms on the first evening. Not my fault. Well actually it was entirely my fault but it wasn’t intentional.

I read that worms need darkness so I lined the box with black bags to block out the sunlight… job done. I also read that during the first week of establishing a wormery, the worms will wait until night fall and then try to escape…. So I sealed them in with a bin-bag-lined lid and some bricks… job done. What I neglected to consider is that the worms would need some oxygen. Effectively what I had done is seal the little loves into a plastic box in another plastic box, in a plastic bag, under a plastic lid held down by concrete bricks, just to make really really sure that they couldn’t breathe. Oh dear. The next morning wasn’t a pretty picture… I’ll spare you the gruesome details.

The next dilemma is how much to feed them. The ones that did survive don’t seem to like the tomatoes and bread that I gave them. So, all in all, I’ve been left with a big smelly mess at the end of my garden. I’m not even convinced that there are any worms left. Shame.

Live or Let Die?: Last week I declared a truce on all but the malicious bugs in my garden. This week the spiders are literally trying to take over. You may think this is an exaggeration. It’s not.

I saw it a couple of mornings ago whilst brushing my teeth, propped up against the sink. It was like a scene from a bad 90s horror movie. Stretched across the bathroom door leading to the terrace was the world’s biggest spider, calmly weaving the world’s biggest web. Trapped. It didn’t even flinch when I opened the door. I left it to the boyfriend to decide what to do about it.

I’m not entirely sure why we’re being overrun with spiders now, after all they were never on my hitlist. All I can imagine is that the spiders have taken up where we left off and the increased food supply has made our terrace more attractive than ever. Kind of logical. My entire reality is informed by this kind of homemade logic.

Flowers: Fail. Somehow I am still unable to grow pretty things in the garden. I’ve kind of stopped caring.

Basil: Fail. Somehow I am still unable to grow basil. Yes, yes I know, it’s supposedly the easiest herb to grow. I can’t do it. I still yearn for homemade pesto though so sadly I have not yet stopped caring.

Veggies: Toms still in abundant supply. Beetroots all eaten… delicious. Nearing the end of the onion crop, they did well this year. Mini corns doing well, although this is the first year of growing them so I’m not too sure when they’ll be ready, to be honest, it’s much more fun not knowing.

What else? Ah yes, the first step into fruit growing seems to be going well. The kiwi plant is thriving. I'm still unconvinced by the garden centre man’s insistence that we’ll get fruit this autumn… I’ll keep you posted.

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Friday, 14 August 2009

Live or Let Die?

I’ve just got back from a long weekend running around Scandinavia with one of my girlfriends. Lots of interesting things happened that weekend. Among the less interesting things was her announcement that she no longer kills insects. She told me this whilst tenderly plucking a blood sucking flying thing from her arm and releasing it back into the wild. When I say less interesting, I mean less interesting for you. There’s no getting around it anymore, I’ve become a fully fledged gardening geek so in fact I find a decision like that fascinating.

For a few weeks now I’ve been studiously ignoring the growing sense of guilt at my brutal approach to any insect that manages to find its way into my garden. I’ve doubtless learnt this behaviour from my mum who positively enjoys the crunch of a snail meeting its doom. She in turn learnt this from her mother who used to throw spiders into jars of bleach. “How cruel!” I hear you cry? And whilst I must agree, “she lived in different times”, I find myself replying, “tougher times when it was difficult to muster sympathy for the Andrex puppy let alone an unwanted spider.”

I digress. I don’t think my guilt comes from the actual killing of bugs and grubs, it’s more that I haven’t taken the time to think about it enough and decide my stance. This has left me in a thoroughly unsatisfactory position. When I choose to ignore a woodlouse scurrying away from me back to the safety of my beetroot pots, I feel a little ball of resentment grow inside of me. By contrast, when I leave them to it, my lettuce end up looking positively polka dotted.

I think it would be a worthy thing to spend the time researching the ecological impact of the insect inhabitants of my terrace and making a valid judgement that way. Unfortunately I am not always a worthy person and I’m hoping that the more ecologically versed among you will comment and let me know what to kill and what to keep.

I think I should qualify here that my ambivalence to insectkind is not wholly unfounded. Some of you may remember that earlier this year my rosemary bush was infested with beetles, though they’re now departed, the rosemary failed to flower this year and has never quite recovered. I have countless similar such stories where my plants have been left battered and bruised by some insect or another.

On the other hand, I do love it when my plants are adorned with butterflies and bees. More than that, gardens depend on a diverse wildlife, and who am I to decide what stays and what goes?

But my rosemary… butterflies… basil… bees… oh the dilemma.

I think I’ve reached a conclusion… I pledge to only kill insects that I’m sure are causing harm to my plants. Oh and mosquitoes. My war on mosquitoes will be waged until my death.

Thanks for listening.

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