An allotment is a warzone. So much conspires to rob you of the just rewards for all the hard work you’ve put in.
The weather can be friend or foe; too sunny and you can’t get enough water into the ground. An hour with a hose every evening barely begins to make up for lack of rain. The ground shrinks and cracks, compressing the plants’ roots and they are stunted forever as a result. Water loving plants like lettuces are limp and small. A drought really does no good in the garden.
And that’s what we had in spring.
Then suddenly the skies opened over South London and the rain came down endlessly. The lettuces all sighed their thanks and began to grow like weeds.
The weeds began to grow like there was no tomorrow.
And then the slugs came out from their secret dank and moist hiding places. Together with the snails they advanced in hours (don’t let anyone tell you slugs are sloths) and overnight decimated my broad beans.
There is an organic solution to the pest of slugs. It’s totally green.
You go to your allotment late in the evening; slugs are most active late in the day and at night. Then on your hands and knees you seek them out. It’s not hard; the slugs are the size of Dr Marten shoes all plump and juicy from their free buffet.
You pick them up and then with a quick sharp wrist action you throw them onto someone else’s allotment.
Not the one next door though, that would be too obvious. No you throw the slugs, and any snails too, in a high arc so that they come down a few plots away.
Of course at the same time other plotholders are doing exactly the same thing. This means that anyone watching would think a game of slug tennis was going on with black dots criss-crossing the sky in low parabolas.
So at the end of a session you end up with pretty much the same number of slugs that you started out with, but now they are all disorientated with slug jet lag having crossed 25 yards of ground in a second rather than a day.
Neighbouring plot holders can prove to be a pest in other ways too, but there’s a simple organic solution to that as well.
Whack them over the head with a spade and bury them in the compost heap. That way in a few years time they’ll give you your biggest courgettes ever.