After trying to tempt birds into the garden for six years, I gave up. They simply wouldn’t come in – no idea why. I noticed a willow warbler on a bush in next door’s garden – but did it pop over the fence and visit mine? No it bloody didn’t. And before you ask, they have a cat, two dogs and two kids. And their garden is as close to the road as ours is.
The people in the house at the back of us get all manner of birds (blue tits, goldfinches, house sparrows) in their tree – and they have a cat.
So, forget the birds, who needs ‘em. I got rid of the nuts and the seeds, I was tired of chucking mouldy uneaten bird food away. And I turned my attention to insects. Well, not just insects – arachnids, molluscs, invertebrates, creepies and crawlies and bugs in general. I wrote about it here.
My sneaky plan is to tempt the birds in by providing lots of juicy insects for them to eat… And in the meantime, the insects need all the help they can get.
I’ve provided water, I don’t pull up the weeds until they’ve finished flowering, I have a mini log-pile and I’ve planted wild flower seeds. I’ve left some of the grass to grow long, I have an insect hotel, and a compost heap.
Well, I’ve had a few successes – loads of aphids on the clematis, being eaten by loads of ladybirds.
Solitary bees doing whatever solitary bees do in the insect hotel.
Lots of creeping and crawling things in the new compost heap. I’m really pleased with the compost heap. No idea if it will ever make compost, but it feels very good putting the kitchen waste in there rather than in the bin. I don’t overload it with grass clippings, as that’s not good and can get very slimy and nasty. I turn the heap regularly – and I’m really surprised at how pleasant it smells when you turn it. And also how quickly stuff ceases to be recognisable.
The slates that I propped up against the wall, to give shelter to the bugs and the beasties on cold wet days are doing their job. The soil underneath is alive with woodlice and spiders.
I found a lacewing sunning itself on the side of the shed.
And I disturbed the most amazing black and orange moth – a bit sad about that, as it flew away out of the garden. But at least it was here, if only briefly.
There are lots of worms in the soil. And I’ve seen hoverflies, wasps, bees and butterflies buzzing and bobbing about.
All is good.
But then there are the slugs. Oh my god, the slugs.
What even is the point of slugs? I went out one night and started picking them up – there must have been 20 of the buggers (and it’s only a small garden). The next night, another 10 or so. The night after that only a couple – but we’ve had a lot of rain since then, so there’ll be more.
Interestingly, I’ve never seen any snails in the garden. Just slugs.
Now would be a good time for the birds to come along and gorge themselves on slugs. But do they? DO THEY?? No, they flippin’ don’t.
In the spirit of ‘Know thine enemy’, here are 15 facts about slugs that you always wanted to know, but never dared ask –
- There are 32 species of slug in the UK. Most of them live in my garden…
- They eat with their foot – that’s why they’re called gastropods.
- They have 27,000 teeth. I think this freaks me out more than the slime!
- They like beer – it’s the only thing we have in common.
- They don’t like copper – it gives them electric shocks.
- They’re predated by hedgehogs, thrushes and beetles.
- The mucus trail helps them find their way back home.
- They can live up to six years. Or one year. It depends which website you look at.
- They are hermaphrodite – so you don’t need a Mummy slug and a Daddy slug in order to get baby slugs
- A single slug could have 90,000 grandchildren.
- Even the baby ones aren’t cute.
- The full grown ones just look like turds.
- If you put them down at the bottom of a green wheelie bin it will take them two days to climb back out.
- They will eat any green plants apart from weeds. They are always particularly fond of the plants you are particularly fond of.
- The Black Slug is also available in brown.
To answer my question – what’s the point of them? Well, apparently, they also eat dead leaves. If, that is, they ever have any room left in their tiny little sluggy tummies after they’ve eaten all the good stuff.
My father (a milder mannered man you could never hope to meet) takes great delight in cutting them in half with the shears. Eww.
But also – go Dad!!
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