Gardening in Cornwall: What We Do When Autumn Comes

J. is a serious gardener, and she grows the best tomatoes I’ve eaten since I moved to the U.K. I don’t know how she kills slugs and snails on her patch in the spring, but I know she does, because if you’re going to grow anything around here, you have to. Otherwise they mow down every plant you stick in the earth. They move through like a scene from Slug Apocalypse, leaving nothing behind.

Irrelevant Photo: The North Cornwall Coast

Irrelevant Photo: The North Cornwall Coast

A couple of us were at J.’s house and we went outside to admire the garden. It was that beautiful time of the evening when the sky’s a tissue-paper blue and you can almost convince yourself that the world is at peace, even though, yeah, of course you know better. Even though it was late in the year, she still had some flowers in bloom.

On the edge of a flower bed was a slug. The big, creepy kind, easily the length of my ring finger.

J. flicked it away—and I’d have to say she did it gently—with the toe of her shoe.

“That’s why I don’t come out at this time of day,” she said.

So it’s not just me. Everyone who gardens knows they’re out there. And at least for part of the year, we don’t look. If we did, as surely as if we’d sworn an oath, we’d have to kill them. And really, you can’t dedicate your life to eliminating an entire species, even if it’s only from a small patch of ground you call your own.

21 thoughts on “Gardening in Cornwall: What We Do When Autumn Comes

  1. Snap, I just posted something about slugs and caterpillars (and all the other pests that plants attract).
    I’m new to gardening (first outdoor space – doesn’t really qualify as a garden) and I did not realise just how much slugs etc eat! It’s never ending! I have to admit you’re far more gentle and tolerant than I am. If I could buy a slug bazooka and get them all off my roof, I would ;) Little buggers keep coming back though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, that’s the problem. Even if you get your patch of ground slug-free, you pass the patch next door and there they are: slugs. At a certain point (switching here from the generic “you” to my own twisted self) I have to admit that I can’t clear the entire world of them–and that if I could it would, somehow or other, turn out to be a bad thing.

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