Plants vs Snails – the endless war

Snails.
Yes, SNAILS. Where the hell do they all keep coming from?

This week has been hot and sunny. This weekend is going to have to be one of planting out and potting up.

I came home the other day to discover that the plants on one of my windowsills had all wilted, but they’ve all seemingly recovered again after a quick soak. Phew! These plants are going to have to be planted out, or they’ll become too lanky or stressed to do anything.

In my last post I noted that I’d planted out my new Lupin ‘The Governor’ plant. Prior to this, there were no snails to be seen. However, knowing what they’ve been like previously, I decided to circle the new lush green plant with some special ‘fizzy sweets’. It worked a treat. The next morning I checked the plant and it was relatively unscathed, but surrounded with abandoned shells.

That evening, I checked again, to find 15 snails within 1 foot of the plant. I swiftly aided them on their way, but it begs me to ask where the hell do all these snails come from?

Despite this, and through the desperation they’ve show to escape my windowsill, I have planted out some of the Sweet Pea ‘Candy Cane’, and the French Bean ‘Blue Lake’ plants. This fills one of the cane structures nicely, and again i have circled each plant with those special treats for the snails. I’m hoping that the plants will soon become established, forcing the snails to leave them alone in favour of more tender juicy plants (ie weeds, or something in my neighbour’s garden).

Foxglove 'Excelsior Hybrids Mixed'
One of the Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ plants.

I came home a littler earlier today, to find that some of my Foxglove ‘Excelsior Hybrids Mixed’ plants that I had sowed back in June 2011, and had flowered in 2012, are flowering again. These are welcome in my garden. Not just because of their flower-coated spires that reach upwards, but because they are quite happy in the shade – something my garden gets a lot of.

Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant'
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ – its stems reach up, with flowery bits every so often

Not far from the foxgloves, is my Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ plant with its soft blue flowers. I’ve checked back to see when the Foxgloves and Nepeta flowered last year – given that we’ve had some pretty rough weather in the first 4 months of the year, and it seems that they’re only about 10 days behind 2012.

This weekend should see the planting out of the rest of the Sweet Peas, the potting up of the Courgettes and Tomatoes, and perhaps the planting out of the Nasturtiums too. Fingers crossed for sunshine, please!

The tulips begin to bloom and the propagator is full of new life

Last year’s Tulip bulbs are now coming into flower, and the seedlings are thriving in the propagator.

I came home in the sunshine earlier this week to a crimson welcome, and the green shoots of new life in the propagator.

The Tulip ‘Negrita’ bulbs that I planted last year have overwintered and spent the last few weeks throwing lush, waxy-looking, green leaves and stems skywards. Now I have been rewarded with their beautiful blooms.

Tulip 'Negrita'
Tulip ‘Negrita’ on flower.

There were about 10 bulbs and they seem to all be present and happy..

Tulip 'Negrita'
Tip-toe through the tulips (nepeta and a nettle) with me.

However, I also stumbled across a terrible thing, and it comes as somewhat of an absent-mindedness confession, of which I’m not really happy with myself about – it looks like i might have forgotten to plant ANY of the beautiful cream and green lacy Tulip ‘Madonna’ bulbs. I found bag of them on my bench. There was a bit of a hole in the bag – so i *might* have planted a few, but there’s no sign of them yet.

As for the bulbs in the bag – they looked quite dried up, but i’ve planted them out anyway and now they have two chances. They’ll be massively behind for this year though – which makes me annoyed with myself.

Ending on a happier note…

The seeds that I sowed at the beginning of the month are doing pretty well. Both Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ seeds are now sturdy seedlings, there are 5 Tomato ‘Minibel’ seedlings, and 1.1 of the Sweet Pea ‘Candy Cane’ seeds have germinated.

IMAG1142
The Tomato ‘Minibel’ seedlings are doing well in the propagator.

Add to this, the Parsley ‘Laura’ (a delicious flat-leaf variety that’s great with mushrooms,  scrambled egg, or as a salad leaf) is thriving.

With the sunshine out, it finally feels like summer is lurking just off the horizon somewhere.

Sowing – Tomato, Courgette and Sweet Peas

The propagator has been filled with freshly sown seeds – ready to bring the garden to life in 2013.

Tonight I’ve continued the sowing of seeds for this year’s garden. Fuelled by another sunny drive home from work, I’m pretty satisfied that Spring has finally arrived.

Seeds in compost sitting inside a propagator
Tomato, Sweet Pea, Parsley and Courgette are ready to spring into life.

First up is something that I’ve not grown from seed before… a tomato. I’ve never been a massive fan of tomatoes but I was given some seed last year for Tomato ‘Minibel’ which grows happily in pots and produces cherry tomatoes. This ideal as I have little space to put them, and a few small fresh tomatoes will work well in the myriad of salads that my life consumes. Tomatoes are hungry things – so I’ll need to make sure that I use my fertiliser on them regularly in order to get the best out of them.

Tomatoes that never were
Spot the spider! 2010’s tomatoes looked good, but the wind soon flattened their hopes of producing any more than this.

My mother gave me some tomato plants back in 2010, and they did reasonably well, so this year I’ll put them in the same spot (gets the afternoon sunshine) and see what happens. Hopefully, like 2010, the wind won’t suddenly arrive and decimate them again.

Tomato 'Minibel' and Courgette 'Black Beauty'
Tomato ‘Minibel’ and Courgette ‘Black Beauty’

Speaking of which, I’ve also sown some more Courgette ‘Black Beauty’ seeds – just two – in a vain attempt to actually have courgettes as good as I had them back in 2010 when I was getting a bit of a backlog. For the last two years they have been disastrous – with mildew killing them off in 2011 after only about 2 fruits, and last year’s two dying – one from mildew again, and the other from a nice big healthy plant being chomped through the main stem by slugs and snails.

Hopefully these two harsh winters will have slowed the snails and slugs down even further, but I’ll have to keep an eye on them.

Compared to last year, it seems that I’m behind schedule. But with such cold weather, and now what seems to be full Spring ahead, I’m hoping that things will catch up. Besides, some of my plants (in hindsight) had gotten a bit ‘leggy’ because they’d been waiting too long indoors for the all-clear to go outside.