Margaret Gow: Army feast on border

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When I picked up my copy of the “RT” (Rutland, not Radio Times!) the other week, the chap who sold it to me said that Margaret Gow couldn’t possibly have written the article about the cruise as there wasn’t a single complaint in it.

Actually, there could have been quite a big one - but it will keep for the time being, and today I have a really, really big beef having had to get stuck in and do something to the garden.

There was no point in planting any pretty annuals before I went away as the chap who kindly waters my garden has no truck with flowers. He thinks they are a complete waste of time and I should be growing vegetables. I can remember growing vegetables when the family were at home. Even with six of us, there would be a glut of something (cauliflowers in particular) and everybody would get fed up of eating the same thing. Now I am on my own there seems no point: in fact I grumble mightily that the supermarkets pay no heed to the fact that a large number of their customers are ageing and living alone - what is the good of BOGOF? Even packets of green beans would easily make four helpings, and who wants to keep eating beans day after day?

At least, I can look at a pretty garden - or so I thought. Having planted the front of a bed with geraniums, busy lizzies and lobelia where I can see them, I edged and cut the lawn and felt that I had my own private park. Until the next morning, when I discovered that an army had been in the night and had had a great feast. Yep - snails and horrible big slugs. I had some ‘guaranteed’ killer from last year, so put that down the following morning and bought some French marigolds for the border.

Next morning - no relief! The little blighters had marched over this so-called remedy and had had another go at the busy lizzies which were looking quite bald. I planted the marigolds, and yes... same thing, with leaves and flower heads bitten through.

Not only that - the planter next to the back door turned out to be nothing more than a huge ants nest, and I’ve dug out 40 litres of soil (I know how much because it has filled a bag which holds a similar amount, so there!) and replaced it a week ago with some new stuff. No doubt the ants have gone into deep cover, but I can’t do any more. Meanwhile, the place where I bought the new compost and soil sold snail and slug killer and it’s absolutely the goods - so far, 174 dead snails to last Sunday - I didn’t pick up the slugs: ugh!!

I have to ask: does anybody want a bag full of reasonably good soil complete with everything you need for an in-depth study of ants?