Not much gardening done this week at Casa Bodger. A crack in the gable end of the conservatory proved to be the small symptom of an illness requiring a far reaching cure of builders, scaffolding and gallons of heavily sweetened tea. If you invest in the stock market, buy sugar, immediately. The guys have done a magnificent job, whilst making a barbican of bricks and trowels, rendering the potting shed out of bounds. They mixed mortar on boards with great care, scattering clouds of the powder all over the lawn. After last week’s waffle about weeds thereon, I may report back later on the effect of large quantities of alkaline cement at a later date, when the dust has settled.
Mathiasella bupleuroides 'Green Dream'
Mathiasella bupleuroides ‘Green Dream’

I stayed indoors, making hot beverages and keeping the cats out of the concrete mixer. In my absence, the gastropods have been making hay. On this sandy soil, the snails have the ascendancy, their shells protecting their fat slimy carcasses from desiccation. They have spent a week stuffing themselves with Hostas, reducing the lovely quilted leaves to lace. On clay, it was the slugs which luxuriated in the all-round sogginess, to mount a campaign of gruesome destruction on Delphiniums and when those had been consumed, everything else. I don’t use chemical controls as I’m fortunate in having a plot full of wildlife. If a bird or frog eats a slitherer full of metaldehyde, it is likely to poison the diner as well as their dinner.
Zantedeschia (calla) 'Black Star'

Zantedeschia (calla) ‘Black Star’

During lulls in the hammering, slurping from mugs and occasional blasphemy, I could hear the munching of a thousand teeth and the slavering of hundreds of gums as my precious plants quailed under the assault. I went around the garden with a bucket and collected some of the culprits, to go on their holidays with the Council in the green bin. Upon being caught with my captives, I told the bricky that I was just gathering my lunch. From the expression on his face, I’ve a nasty feeling that he didn’t see the joke. When I could stand it no longer, I sent Attila to the internet, for a mail order of nematodes. These are tiny worms which must be kept in the fridge until watering in, thereafter to live in the soil. They earn their keep by burrowing into slug flesh and eating them from the inside out, requiring reapplication every six weeks to maintain protection. They are not so effective on snails, which spend less time in the earth and are therefore out of reach but they do reduce their numbers. This is the first time that I’ve tried this method of biological pest control, so I’m most interested in the result.
Primula auricula 'Late Romantic'
Primula auricula ‘Late Romantic’

I’ve already put the wind up Big Tony, by jumping up and down on the smeared corpses of lily beetles and squashing aphids with my fingers as well as the aforementioned snail round up. I shall take care that he’s not up a ladder when I sit on the back step scratching, muttering to myself and listening for the screams of distressed flower murderers. I must also endeavour to keep my manic laughter down to a reasonable level.