Snails Pace

Having an allotment is not just about growing vegetables and fruit. It is a place to go when you need a break, It is a haven from city life. It is a hobby like no other. It is a garden for those without.  It is a place to bring the kids at the weekend, or to sit down with a flask of tea and simply enjoy the view. Some people have them simply for one crop, some people only grow fruit, some people don’t grow food at all and just use their plots for growing flowers.

Myself, I’m growing whatever it is that takes my fancy, whether it be pumpkins, strawberries or some flowers for the bees. I’ve been reading about companion planting lately, a method of gardening where you plant different plants in close proximity which benefit each other, wether it be by pollination, pest control or nutrient uptake. I have planned out a four year crop rotation for my plot, and strict companion planting methods do not necessarily fit into my plan, however, I have planted a few things with other crops in mind. I am growing chives, which I will plant near my carrots as they help deter carrot root fly. I planted borage, beside my strawberries to help encourage pollination and repel pests. I have been growing some marigolds to attract the pesky slugs away from my brassicas, and attract the slugs they do! I started my marigolds about six weeks ago, in pots at home. They germinated well and I moved them out to the greenhouse a couple of weeks ago.

Nibbled Basil

Yesterday, I went to water my plants in the greenhouse, but when I opened it up, my marigolds had all but disappeared! Gone. Eaten. Savaged overnight. There was telltale signs of slugs trails on the soil. Exasperated, I took everything out of the greenhouse, but could not find the culprit. As I was disposing of my destroyed marigolds (sniff), I found a small snail on the side of one of the pots, little bugger. One tiny snail had destroyed all twelve of my marigold plants overnight, so much for moving at a snails pace! I suppose the marigolds did do their job of attracting him away from my other plants, my tiny lettuces were left alone, he did have a nibble of one of my basil plants though. I now have zero marigolds for my allotment. One can only laugh. I got rid of said snail, and made a few beer traps in the greenhouse for future slugs and snails to hopefully fall into.

Snails dinner! This was the only one left standing!

The windowsills at home are becoming more and more green. The chilli and pepper plants are thriving and I will move them out to the greenhouse in a few weeks. My tomato plants succumbed to whatever illness it was that was killing them, I declared failure, swallowed my pride and bought myself some tomato plants in a garden centre. they’re a far cry form my measly efforts. A few weeks ago, I gave my dad some of my tomato seedlings and his are thriving! I obviously gave him the best ones (that’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it). My courgettes germinated in a few days and are thriving so far, I was surprised to see how strong they are. Only half of my sunflowers took, but at least thats better than none and I also spotted a green shoot about to pop up in one of my pumpkin pots. No sign yet of my celery or borlotti beans but patience is the most important tool at my disposal and I need to learn to use it more!


All in all, it’s been a quiet week, we’ve only been up to the plot once, for an hour the other day, we dug out another potato bed and we’ll plant our maincrop spuds this week. They’ve been chitting away since February and have lovely strong green shoots on them.

I took the time to go for a little walk around the site and it’s great to see some of the wonderful plots, It’s amazing just how much the place has changed since early March. Every plot has it’s own personality and you’d be amazed at how many ideas you’ll get and how many people you’ll get chatting to if you walk around. Gardeners seem to be the friendliest bunch, always happy to share some advice, or ask for some when it’s needed. It really is a great community. There was a gazebo on site the other day where they were selling  plug plants, they had a great selection, including some unusual varieties. There’s such a great set up on site, the allotment shop has a great selection of all things garden related and the best thing is, all the proceeds go to the Epilepsy Care Foundation so it’s worth buying on site, when possible. You can even buy your shed and they will install it for you. I’m a particular fan of the tea/coffee van that visits every weekend, and last weekend, I spotted an ice cream van on site with a queue of allotmenteers lining up like kids to get their 99’s. I think I’ll stick to my cups of tea for now though, there’s still quite a chill in the air.

My pitiful tomato plant compared to the garden centre plant
Pumpkin pushing its way above soil

0 thoughts on “Snails Pace”

  1. One of my favorite things about being part of a community garden (which is our equivalent to allotments in the US) is walking around and seeing what the other gardeners are up to. I love how everyone does things in their own way, and I have gotten so good ideas from other gardens. And I agree, gardeners are the friendliest, and are so generous with sharing their knowledge and encouragement!

  2. This is a really nice post.

    I’ve actually never known slugs to eat my marigolds!! You have super slugs. Pellets will work, even if you sprinkle some on the floor of the greenhouse rather than around the plants. Check the ingredients; if they contain ferric phosphate then they will break down into iron and will not harm any other wildlife. Avoid ones with metaldehyde as the main ingredient. Or get a frog 🙂 there’s one hanging out in my poly right now, and not a slug in sight.

    PS I’ll be having a small plant sale there in a couple of weeks – four types of marigold will be on sale 🙂

  3. I hope that snail got a bellyache. I just bought potted basil, cilantro, and chives yesterday and have them sitting in the window over the kitchen sink. I’ve used the basil three times already! I love having fresh food around. Great post…thanks for sharing!

    1. The waiting lists here for the council-run allotments are 5-10 years, I just got very lucky and got one on a brand new privately run site. I don’t have a garden of my own so it’s great to finally have somewhere to grow. Thanks for reading 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading. Lettuce is great to grow as it is ready only 8 weeks after planting. Cabbage is a bit trickier but worth the effort. Best of luck with your garden, I’m sure it will be lovely. 🙂

  4. Lovely post. Live full time in a fifth wheel trailer, so am unable to have a garden and I do miss it. Did a little indoor planting as space would allow and describe it in my last post. We’re way behind you in our growing season here in Canada, May 24th is usually considered the earliest you can plant a garden. Enjoy your garden.

    1. Wow, May is late by our standards here in ireland, most of my crops have been started by now, with the exception of a few that need warmer temperatures. The temperate climate here is rather forgiving for gardeners, rarely too warm or too cold. Some things do refuse to grow though as we never get prolonged hot weather. Best of luck with your indoor gardening, it can, from my experience be just as rewarding. 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading, the community sprit is one of the reasons I keep it up, especially on rainy days when I just feel like sitting at home, knowing I might meet one of the other gardeners for a friendly chat is always an incentive to go 🙂

    1. I always thought I had a bit of a black thumb, I’ve managed to kill the most basic of plants in the past, but I persevered and here I am, still having a few disasters, managed to kill a few tomato plants last week, but having fun while I try 🙂

  5. I don’t know the city in which you grow. I am envious. Once, I lived in a Manhattan brownstone and turned the roof into a oasis. Flowers, herbs, fruits & veggies. Lots of success. Lots of failure. Over the years I learned a ton about my Upper West Side micro-climate. Basil, for one, is incredibly difficult to start, let alone maintain. Kudos for all your efforts.

    I usually had to start about a dozen tomato plants to yield half as many successes. Potted urban growing has so many benefits, difficulties, joys & tribulations.

    Good for you!

    1. I live in Dublin, ireland, the weather here is ideal for gardening so I’m hoping that’ll help me along the way. I’ve always dreamed of having a brownstone in Manhattan with a rooftop garden, I’m jealous! thans for reading 🙂

  6. I got an allotment this year. Growing lettuce, cabbage, brussel sprouts, potatoes, broad beans, strawberries, a blackberry bush and some raddishes. They’re all doing very well, even with the snow spell we had in the UK in spring.

    I’ve got a lot on my plate! (Pun intended).

    1. We were lucky to escape the snow this year thankfully. We are having some crazy april weather at the moment here in Ireland, it’s hard to find a break in the rain to do some digging. Best of luck with your plot 🙂

  7. I have noticed my flowers and veggies suddely disappearing….your photo finally gave me the awnsers….SNAILS! I would have never guessed…..sure enough I can see snail trails if I get out in the mornings….don’t know if I can defend against them. I did start a lot inside and will transplant when larger.
    Good luck with the gardening and congrats on FP!

    1. October? Wow, that’s impressive! I’ve never heard of one surviving past summer. I haven’t grown tomatoes before so I’m hoping they’ll do well, nothing better than fresh, homegrown tomatoes!

  8. don’t worry, marigolds seed and grow very quickly. It’s refreshing to read a post about gardening failures instead of one’s gloriously successful gardens that make us all green with envy. I joined a community garden too and am sure I will face many failures as well, its all part of being at nature’s mercy.

    1. Thanks for reading. From my experience, gardening is just as much about the failures as it is about the successes, and every mistake I make, I learn something from it. If it was too easy, it wouldn’t be half as rewarding.

  9. Love your blog! So many people here in California waste their precious land on huge swaths of green grass that are completely useless and water-wasteful…they need to be more appreciative of our fortunate climate and land availability. We too grow as much as we can here year-round, and it’s so nice to read a real blog by a real person making real effort and real mistakes…just like us 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading. I’d love to have the Californian climate to grow in, I have to rely on a greenhouse for my peppers and tomatoes. The Irish climate is great for growing but not for the more exotic veggies. I’m not a fan of big lawns, not only is it a waste, people seem to use a shocking amount of chemicals to treat them, not great for our poor environment 🙁

  10. Wait — there is a van in your community that drives around and brings lovely hot beverages to you as you work in your garden? Wow! I may have to relocate.

    My condolences on the loss of your marigolds (dratted snails!) and the untimely demise of your tomato seedlings. There is no dishonor in replacing them with seedlings someone else grew. I wish you and your garden much success this season, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    1. Yep, every Saturday and Sunday, we have a van on site selling tea, coffee, hot chocolate and some snacks, it’s brilliant! Gardening is hungry work, it’s great to be able to have a much needed chocolatey sugar boost after a few hours of digging.

      1. Sounds great to me! It would have to be cold beverages and frozen yogurt, though as we’re well past the “hot drink” time of year here in Texas.

  11. Terrific post, beautifully written and with some nice pictures (I’ll be using those to identify our own seedlings from the weeds!). In our community garden we’ve had problems with a mouse eating the seeds out of the pots and trays (especially the pumpkin seeds), though it seems we dealt with him now. Good luck with your planting, your allotment sounds like a lovely place.

  12. Don’t lose faith-your “pitiful” tomato plant will catch up and yield delicious fruit all summer long. The beer traps will amaze (and disgust) you. Once we started putting them out, we stopped having damage to our garden from slugs.

      1. I agree with Jennifer. I sunk a couple of jam jars in the garden and half filled them with cheap beer. Next morning the slugs must have had some party as I counted 13 floating in the jars. I have a serious snail problem here too. Beer doesn’t seem to attract them though.

      2. Around here, we call it a slugfest, and finding ONE on a pot means you probably had 20 elewhere, the ones that got away. However, beer traps work and so does copper. They do not cross copper because it shocks them, slightly, and they do not like it. You can buy copper tape to outline any place you do not want them.
        Have fun.

      3. Beer traps will definitely attract slugs…in fact, you may not have the problem you think. Michigan State University did several experiments on slugs and snails, and found they will actually travel… MANY MILES…INTO your garden, to get to the beer. Course sand or diatotemous (sp?)earth will keep them out – their tender bodies cannot crawl through it. Surround your planting area with a border of sand, then put the beer traps inside that area to get the others.

  13. I can certainly feel your pain (and anger) over that hungry snail. Fortunately, you had a positive outlook and rescued the rest of your crop. It’s quite exciting to see tiny seeds burst forth! May you have a bountiful harvest — and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  14. Hello, I am also trying to garden…And one of my plants have been ruined by rain, I am currently waiting for it to dry out so to speak… I have a bean plant but it has turned slightly grey, which I found to be mould, after trying to grow it inside my house….I think it is under control now… I am trying to grow turnips also.. For slugs, have you tried copper tape?? It’s not too expensive and is kinder than using the chemical infested pellets of other things that are harmful to us…. I will visit your blog again…Interesting…

    1. Rain is something unavoidable here in Ireland, I try to grow plants that will benefit from the rain so I have less work to do. I haven’t had any mould problems yet but I’m sure I will see some at some stage. Thanks for the tip on the copper, I’m trying to avoid using chemicals on my plants so I’ll definitely try it. Thanks for reading

      1. Thanks for the reply… I’ve heard it rains a lot in Ireland.. I live in London, and recently it has been heavily raining.. I just hope my garlic chive plant isn’t ruined!

        Did the marigold plant help your other plants before it was eaten by snails? I am considering getting one.. Any tips for strawberry and turnip growing?

      2. I haven’t grown turnips myself but have heard that if you plant them in module trays for later planting it makes a big difference, also, try to avoid planting them where brassicas have been the previous year (cabbages, sprouts etc) and add some manure before you plant. Strawberries seem relatively easy to grow, they just need well drained soil, when the fruits start to come out, protect them from birds, they love them. Also, try not to let your fruit rest on the soil as it will rot, it helps to use straw around the base of the plant when the fruits are ripening.

        It does rain a lot here, I shouldn’t complain though, it seems to do more good than harm. It’s the wind I worry about, it causes more damage than anything else.

  15. I can certainly feel your pain and rage at that hungry snail. Fortunately, you had a positive outlook and rescued the remainder of your crop. It’s always exciting to see a tiny seed burst forth into green! May you have a bountiful harvest — and congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

  16. Have you tried copper collars? With heavy gloves on, pull apart a copper scrubbing pad and cut it into pieces to put around the base of the plant OR use copper tape — copper gives a little “charge” to the snails and they leave it alone. You just need to make sure the snail can’t reach over the copper to get to the plant. 🙂

  17. Allotments are wonderful concept that would benefit so many people and communities. Garden is great therapy and everyone should have access to it, no matter how large or small. Great post. Hope your tomatoes pull through!

  18. Doing gardening in Nevis at the back of my rented house on someone else’s land which is a bit worrying as there are not tenants rights movement here. But nevertheless have planted cassava, yam, banana, tanna, blackeye peas and more visit my blog for more Love the inspiration engendered by your blogg Peace Love

  19. I looks like you have a great start on your garden! I found the first slug on Monday near one of my raised beds. I’ve never heard of marigolds attracting slugs, but I have heard of them detering rabbits!

  20. I’m sooo envious that you can grow stuff! The only thing I can grow is fuzzy, multi-colored mold. (maybe I should consider that a small victory since there are likely people who can only grow uni-colored mold, right?)
    You’ve inspired me to try to start a small kitchen garden now… hmmm… might start simple with basil and oregano perhaps.
    Janet 😉

    1. Multi-coloured mold is better than nothing, if you were a micro biologist, you’d be set 😛 Basil’s a little tricky to grow but so worth it, if you like herbs, you should try coriander and parsley too, they’re relatively easy to grow. Best of luck.

      1. I’ve bought basil plants (already in bloom) at farmer’s markets before and each time they’ve died because of some sort of bug. I’m glad to hear you say they are tricky to grow. I love coriander and parsley, so I’ll take your advice. Thanks! 🙂

  21. Great blog – I love it!

    Too bad about the snails and slugs. Fortunately, I have a couple of ducks that keep the snail and slug problem in check. Not only that, they turn the pests into delicious eggs.

  22. Love this. It inspires me to get out and do that raised garden bed out back where a trampoline used to rest. Having had a garden years ago makes me want one again Nothing tastes better than the use of fresh vegetables and fruits that you tended to with your own hands. I did have garlic in my garden bed and I must say it is truly amazing used in recipes. Congratulations on your “Freshly Pressed”. Such a delight and continuous good luck 🙂

    1. You’re so right, nothing is better than growing your own food, I didn’t get a chance to plant garlic this year as it was too late to plant it by the time I started my garden, hope to grow it next year, I use it in almost everything I cook. Thanks for reading, it was a big surprise to be freshly pressed, it’s especially nice as i’m getting to chat to gardeners from around the world. Best of luck with your garden, raised beds are a great way to start.

      1. Saw your plant on Freshly Pressed and, poof, here I am. I’m a plantaholic 🙂 ! To share info – go ahead and plant your garlic. I got handed a newspaper full of freshly dug baby garlics last summer (end of July, I think). This guy was clearing a section of garden and didn’t want them to go to waste. They were about the size of a large marble ( a shooter ). I put them in the basement and used the wee garlic cloves to throw on sandwiches, in scrambled eggs, anything smallish. They didn’t start sprouting till the end of March. I use them sprouts and all anyway, I’m not picky. So, if you can use wee garlics in your life – plant them! Good luck on your garden!

  23. The process of plants growing has always been a miracle and a wonder for me. I mean there’s just soil, and water (sometimes even scarce), and what comes out of it? Colorful pumpkins, or juicy meaty fruit! And then comes the next step in the foodchain, the snail, growing a stone-hard cape. It’s a world of wonders.

      1. Let me know how it goes, I think we bought the big pumpkins seeds rashly just for fun…let’s see how much room they take up! I saw you’re growing Tigerella tomatoes- me too! I hope yours perk up, mine have always gone through a slightly limp-ish period after you pot them on so fingers crossed it’s just that!


  24. Well done on your blog.In relation to companion planting try putting some nasturiums near your brassicas.The butterflies are more attracted to the green leaves of the nasturiums.

      1. YES! I think some kids have never really tasted a home-grown tomato either. They are so different than those hot-house tomatoes they sell in the grocery.

        I recently saw a great documentary about food called ‘Food Fight’ I highly recommend it. It was on Netflix, but it may be available at the library or your local video store.

  25. No, not the marigolds! Your other plants look great though 🙂 My roommate and I just started growing our own herbs–we have one pilot pot on the windowsill so far. So we’ll see how it goes!

  26. I discovered the world of slugs when my full grown marigold plants began to disappear. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
    Unless you live in the deep south, it is much too early to plant tomatos outside. They are a heat loving plant and require warm soil to do well.
    I love your pictures. It is hard to take good pictures of plants, especially such small ones.

    1. I grow my tomatoes in doors, then move them out during the summer, we don’t have the best climate here in Ireland for growing tomatoes so it’s best to grow them in containers and move them back in when the temperatures drop.
      Thanks for the the comment on my pictures, I have a very good camera which helps, I spend a lot of time, lying on the ground trying to get close ups of my little seedlings! 🙂

  27. Garden is great therapy.
    Who said that phrase is completly right.
    I love working in my garden especially when weather is nice.
    I have one problem that give me headache which is the presence of insects that eat and damage my plants.
    I red an information that said adding coffe powder to the soil expel insects from being present in the soil.

    I don’t know if that information is right.

  28. Awww this is brilliant Fiona. Your pictures are fantastic. I have found that I enjoy growing flowers more than vegetables. Just found the vege thing a bit boring (sounds strange I know) and think the love of growing flowers is just the colour and smell. Hmmmmm

  29. “At a snails pace I won this race that y’all trail” -Jay Z

    The snail has patience which can be a powerful thing. Slowly but surely.

    Thanks for the insight. Nature is something that gives people enough solitude to reflect on themselves. Nature is therapy.

  30. First of all let me congratulate you for your intention to grow plants indoor. I started my own little garden last month and I actually wrote an article about marigolds, in case you are interested to read :

    Snails can be a problem, specially when you stay at house. But I know a trick to get rid of them and prevent them from ruining your garden. Just spread salt around the flower pots. They hate this, because in interaction with their body, salt causes them pain and finally kills them.

  31. Enjoyed your post. Sorry about the snail. I planted some seeds last week-sweet basil, cilantro, radishes, green onions, and tomatoes for now. We are still getting frost in Central NY State; so I kept everything in pots. Our heaters make a perfect ‘bench’ to set the planters on, so that’s where they sit to soak up their sun. Because it’s been so chilly, the heat has actually kicked on several times in the past few days. It must have been good for the plants because the radishes started popping up in just barely 5 days (according to the seed package, they take 7-10 days to germinate). This makes me hopeful about the rest of the ‘garden’. Happy Growing!

    1. Your heaters must have created a heted propagator effect for your radishes! Brilliant! We still have some frost here too, I still have a lot of my plants indoors, can’t wait until it heats up a bit, my house looks a bit like a greenhouse at the mo!

  32. Hi. Enjoyed your blog and I really enjoyed your experiences (and obstacles) of growing things. Have been growing things too and it’s great to know that you’ve been having the same issues (sneaky slugs, problem tomatoes and patience). Will check back later to see how things are progressing for you!

  33. Pingback: My mother in the mirror « Kerry Dwyer

  34. I enjoyed reading your post with some of the joys (and frustrations) of the average gardener. I am impatiently waiting for the latter part of May so that we can get our garden going (I live in Central Alberta, Canada). I started my own seedlings for the 1st time this year, and my tomato plants look just like yours! Hopefully, they will be a little more robust in a few weeks’ time. We are growing for 12, so we are planting our largest garden yet this year (trying to be more self-sufficient).

  35. Pingback: Like, thanks for the plant labels for my garden, but…like…I have an app for that « twinbedgardens

  36. Had never heard of a beer slug trap before in my life but it sounds so incredibly helpful and a great idea. Thank you for sharing I’m sorry about your marigold loss but everything else looks fantastic

  37. I LOVE LOVE LOVE what you are doing, and I think more and more everyday about growing my own food. I think it is great that you are exploring companion gardening too. My mother in law swears by companion gardening, and I frankly had never heard of it until she mentioned it to me and gave me an old dusty book to read. Have you found it difficult to find information about companion gardening?

  38. Hi there! Great post, ur seedlings are looking good! That is crazy about marigolds but at least it wasn’t a crop of ripe strawberries! I’ve heard of slugs/snails wiping out a ripe crop in one night right before they were to be picked. I do a lot of food gardening and always rotate and companion plant. Have you heard of square foot gardening? It is way to grow a lot of food in a dense manner by mixing up the plantings tremendously, confusing pests but maximizing space. Best of luck in this garden season.

  39. Great post – not just informative but so well written! Thanks for sharing – I’m just going back to reread it in case I missed anything! And yes, slugs and snails are so….. annoying!

  40. Congratulations on Freshly Pressed. Beautiful photography. I feel for you in regard to the slugs. We have a slug problem on our little homestead in New Hampshire, USA. We live in wetlands and they love to taste-test every one of my strawberries. 2 words for you: Diatomaceous Earth. It is microscopic fossils basically. It looks like dust to you and is very sharp to the slimy crawlers. Slugs and snails hate to crawl over it. It is 100% organic! Wear a mask and gloves and on a calm day, spread it around your plants. Make sure it is food-grade. Plenty of sources online. Keep growing!

  41. Hi, loved reading your post. We have just given up our allotment, sniff. My 14 months old daughter takes up most of my time at the moment and my husband works too many hours to make a real contribution. Hopefully when she is a bit older we can get another plot. Until then I will grow what I can in my tiny north facing back garden and some pots in my front garden.

    Good luck with the snail war!

  42. Now I know what has happened to my Marigolds for the last couple of years – they have lasted just a couple of days before the slugs managed to eat them all in just a couple of nights, then be so fat that they couldn’t move very far.

    Keep having fun at your allotment – mine is my sanity giver.

  43. Great I blog, at 48 I have just started gardening. Spent months propagating seeds but on plantIng out having them destroyed by the coldest wettest, April in 100 yrs. Then hailstorms ,torrential rain, massive slug invasion and realising I have planted stuff thatm will not thrive in a shady woodland glade sort of garden. Intended to be organic but after spending an hour a night with a flashlight drowning slugs I think next year I will choose plants that slugs hate. Hostas, Borage, lupine all completely destroyed.
    Strangely though I am enjoying. Every bit of it.
    Good luck , PHil

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