Derek – Friday 13th May 2022

The mystery chewers? Thursday last week, I came into the garden and found four leaflets we had put up had been attacked, up to a third of each chewed away. I replaced them with pristine leaflets. Three days later these were as bad. I suspected snails, but didn’t know they attacked paper. Then we found one in situ. Obviously, they come in the night, these clandestine raiders, and flee like vampires at dawn. Except this one. So enamoured of our paper, it refused to follow its mates.

Later, Hazel came into the garden to repair her mosaic snail. Oh yes, she said, the leaflets on her gate noticeboard were attacked by snails. So now she laminates them.

We had a little rain in the early hours of last Saturday, but quite a bit on Wednesday. About four hours of slight rain, enough to give the garden a well needed soaking. Though we had been able to fill up our metre cube, the one by the back stage, with a hose from an obliging neighbour’s garden. But that cube level has been falling fast as we drain off water to water what we can. You may have noted, I have been particular which metre cube I am referring to. as we now have three. The one by the back stage, the one at the back of the container, and a newcomer which we bought to get the runoff from our enlarged pergola. This latter was connected to the guttering just in time for Wednesday’s rain, so has collected about 15 cm of water. Doesn’t sound much, but it’s a square metre of 15 cm, which comes to 150 litres or about 30 watering cans.

I am fascinated by the simple maths of the metre cube. A metre x a metre x a metre = one million millilitres of water, or a thousand litres. A millilitre of water weighs a gram, so we have a million grams which is 1000 kilograms or a tonne of water.

The Herbs and Spices project progresses. On the sleepers, we have mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, fenugreek, germander, bay, parsley, chives, marjoram. Just planted in the raised square bed are fennel, bread poppy and mustard. We are concentrating on culinary herbs and spices. Though you may note a shortage of spices. There’s mustard and fenugreek, and still to appear are ginger and cumin being grown at home. While many herbs are native, most spices are tropical. In fact, 80% of spices are grown in India. Some of these, like cloves and pepper, take years to set seed, so no good for our summer project even if we could grow them.

I see two cabbage white butterflies dancing round each other. A prelude to mating, no doubt. They don’t do us much harm here but allotment holders hate their caterpillars who munch their way into crops of brassicas. Our tadpoles are fattening, there’s still thousands of them, with no sign of back legs. Due in the next few weeks, followed by the front pair, at which point this almost-frog will be hunting tadpoles. It’s like one of those Hollywood movies where everyone on the island has to kill the others or be killed.

We have lots of wild garlic, the ones I call white bluebells as their flowers remind me of bluebells. They are also called the three-cornered leek, as their stems are triangular in cross-section which is reflected in the botanic name Allium triquetrum. There are two glorious pink peonies by the mid stage, puffed in full pink petals, the size of an orange. By the greenhouse are two white irises and a blue, it seems from the same rhizome.

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