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It’s late May, lots of my seeds and plants are in the vegetable beds. But the slugs have been there waiting all along…

In November I dug up all the soft fruit around the garden and re-planted them in the birthday fruit cage.new fruit cageThen over we went through the winter, seeds were sown in the propagator, tomato and pepper and aubergine seedlings all sprouted. Towards the end of February they made their way into the greenhouse. All was looking well. I even managed to turn forty-two Dwarf Dahlia seeds into healthy looking young plantlets for Muiread. The climbing Hydrangea that had settled in so well over last autumn was pushing out its first leaf buds. Boy did they look good and healthy. And in the Wisteria race between Muiread and myself I was stretching into the lead with my first blossoms emerging. Muiread’s plant hadn’t even put out its first buds. I was smug. I was proud. I’ve got this gardening gig cracked, I thought. During April we had a few nights of frost, but my hardy lot shrugged that off like leaves falling on a speeding car. The weatherman talked about a sudden sharp frost coming. I was warned. I didn’t hear the words ‘Arctic Blast’. And I took no action. We woke up to a dismal scene. My wisteria was now a t shaped stick with drooping brown leaves. The beautiful bright green leaves of the Hydrangea had turned the twisting plant into a ragged brown skeleton,sad wisteria and my tomatoes, peppers, and aubergines in the greenhouse were hanging their heads in shame. It had been a dreadful frost and it devastated every piece of young growth in the garden – the hostas, even the first peeking leaves of the potatoes. I was smug no more. What to do? Some said cut out the dead leaves, others advised leaving them to protect against a returning frost. I took a middle road, and cut out the dead leaves on the greenhouse plants, and left the wisteria and hydrangea alone.And now, where are we now. Well, the garlics that marched confidently through the winter now look like they might be leeks, and then garlics again.The Hispi cabbages that grew from seed to seedling in the greenhouse took their place in the vegetable beds. They looked good. A batch of butternut lettuce joined them and they also looked good. Then the peas went out, the beetroot, broad beans, and three variety of new potatoes – British Queens, Arran Pilots, and another whose name escapes me for the moment. And Muiread’s Wisteria is looking beautiful, lots of young health leaves. The tortoise and the hare comes to mind.Once again the smugness disease takes hold. Until the slugs arrive.slug If ever a creature was hated by gardeners the slug must be the first one on our list. Each morning I would patrol the beds and discover in amazed shock more damage to the cabbages. Where were they? My brother suggested crushed egg shells, being a guesthouse we had plenty of them. I sprinkled them around each plant. The next morning even more damage was done. Someone suggested sheep’s wool pellets. I didn’t have any of them but being surrounded by fields of sheep I wandered the field and filled a bucket with scraggy tufts of discarded wool. Then I circled each plant with its very own woolly necklace. That night we had been out to dinner with some friends. They had kindly donated six tomato plants to replace my lost ones. It was dark when we got home. I decided to drop the plants off in the greenhouse and on the way had a look at my cabbages with the aid of my IPhone torch. Horror! I looked down on slugs enjoying their midnight feast of Hispi, some of them even cavorting on the wool.slugfest I went to bed depressed. A guest suggested pots of beer. So I found some out of date Guinness cans and donated them to the cabbage bed. No luck. My purple sprouting broccolis are looking healthy. Touch wood, the slugs haven’t got to them yet. nematodes2Today I ordered a packet of Nematodes. Microscopic worms who multiply in their thousands and whose sole purpose in life is to seek out slugs and kill them. The nematodes will be here in a few days. I hope my cabbages can survive that long.