Where there is a will there is a way

Monday, May 9, 2011

Snail or no snail

Slugs! Snails!

With gardening and becoming closer to the land, there are more physically intense experiences, some good, some not so pleasant.
Pleasant: smelling fragrant basil waft when I am in the garden at night.
Not pleasant: getting rid of slimy slugs and snails!

I had been noticing that all my lovely perfect seedlings have been getting riddled with holes. I couldn't see any insects eating them. Totally new to gardening in NZ - I am reading Xanthe White's organic vegetable gardening book. She had said to go on night raids, and that in general with a garden and pests, "observation was key". I had planted the seedlings, but then just ignored them. Tonight after it was quiet and everyone was in bed, I grabbed a flashlight and and a bucket and went to have a look.

THEY WERE EATING MY GARDEN! There were many, many snails of all sizes locomoting around and clinging to leaves, and small slimy slugs. I grabbed them with my bare hand and put them in my bucket, observing where they were making short work of all my seedlings, in particular the lettuces. I think I've made a giant leap here, and that perhaps if I take measures I may actually have vegetables. In the past when I have experimented with growing, in pots, the pests totalled whatever I was growing. In NZ, it is bountiful, but bountiful in pests as well! Xanthe White had made brick beds, and had gravel in between her raised gardens to discourage locomoting of slimers. I am definitely going to put gravel in between my garden beds, in the areas that I can. I can even add some salt.

But then a dramatic event occurred.

It was an ethical dilemma. Xanthe had said although it was a queazy matter, those "suckers could do with some population control once in a while!" Being city suburb born, and we didn't have snails persay, I was concerned about killing something that I've seen illustrated in children's books as woodland creatures along with fairies and toadstools. I pictured painting the mural I plan to paint in my children's bedroom, and how unable I would be to paint a snail's magic if I killed them. I had seen them this night, stretching slowly and magically up - their delicate antennas stretching delicately out. I heated up boiling water, deciding to be a farmer. Then I changed my mind easily, and decided to throw them into the inedible part of our garden (yard), into the bushes. I threw them all into the bushes, stopping to wonder why I felt less caring towards the slimy slugs that had no shells. I knew that the shell was just one more adaptation to protect it...they were basically cuter. I returned to the garden to see if more slugs or snails were reeling up after I had left. I found a small black slug creating holes in a lettuce leaf. My caring turned to repulsion as my inner self regarded it as an unwanted, negative creature. And then I realized what the difference would have been, for earlier people, that resolved the ethical dilemma. They would have been eating your only food. It's killed or be killed, babies.

I plucked the black offensive creature off the leaf, dropped it into the bucket, and put the kettle back on to boil...


Ruby in the Dust said...

hehe, this made me laugh! you are toughening up, girl :)

Nonavee Dale said...

yeah. I thought it would be pretty funny too.

Shane said...

... and all the while i was tucked in bed none the wiser about my wifes crazy antics.

I wonder what the neighbours though when the flashlights was spinning around and around in the veggie patch at 2 in the morning.