Basil: Round Two

In case you missed it, my first attempt at growing basil this season failed miserable.  The basil grew fine, but then the snails ate it to the quick.  Turns out basil is one of their favorites.

basil fail

Two tiny ‘sticks’, formerly known as basil, right

Today I planted more basil, but with additional precautions.  I bought a packet of copper tape and wrapped it around the planter bed. A small electrical charge will keep them from crossing the copper tape.  One package was just enough.  The new basil is now planted next to the tomatoes.  The plants do well together, so they already have synergy going for them. Last year’s basil grew close to the tomatoes and remained healthy all season.

Since snails are resourceful, I needed to take additional steps to keep them out of the bed.  Clippers in hand, I removed all the lower, over-hanging tomato leaves.  There is no sense wrapping the box in copper, only to provide a nice bridge into the box for tasty dining.

Snail bridge?  All Clear.

Snail bridge? All Clear.

With my gloves firmly in place, I ran my hand along the under side of the upper box, making sure any hiding places were clear.  You don’t want to box the snails *inside* the planting bed.  I’m going outside one more time around dusk to be sure I haven’t missed any interlopers.

Meanwhile the tomatoes, no doubt confused by our warm winter, are growing like weeds.  They volunteered in the planter box…

volunteer tomatoes

Self-sown (volunteer) tomatoes

in the gravel walkway…

tomato in gravel

I’ll just set seed here if you don’t mind

and they volunteered in the compost bin.

tomatoes in compost barrel

Tomatoes growing through the cracks of the composting barrel

No shortage of tomatoes this year.

On the subject of compost, I’ve stopped turning the bin for now.  I want those adventurous tomatoes  to have a fighting chance.  I scooped out handfuls of compost and used it to dress the tomatoes and basil.  I’m still amazed when I see the rich, black compost, knowing it came from dried leaves, twigs and kitchen scraps.  It feels like my own little magic show in the garden.

newly planted basil

Newly planted basil, dressed in organic compost, surrounded by copper barrier tape

Now that basil, round two is safely tucked in and the tomatoes are sporting a few flowers, I’ll soon  have the makings of a delicious caprese salad.

Meanwhile, check out this fabulous site All About Slugs: find out what really works to control the slimy menace.

We focus on reliable information and natural, tested solutions that really work. We never recommend anything that isn’t safe for children, pets, wildlife and the environment. You can control these pesky pests and still enjoy a beautiful, safe and natural yard and garden.

The site provides a list of slug and snail resistant plants, many of which already grow in my garden. Of course I’m trying to grow three of their favorites too: basil, lettuce and strawberries (the fruit, not the leaves).

For a chuckle or at least a guffaw, take a look at Slugapalooza. You’ll find clever poems, drawings and photos and (I kid you not) an ‘interview’ with a snail. Enjoy!

We’re Off to See a Different Mouse

We’re waving goodbye to Mouse (the cat) today as we fly to Disneyland for a short holiday.  Mickey Mouse, here we come!

My traveling companions are two active 13-year-old boys.  There will be no moss growing under my toes this week!  My son asked me to take photos of the garden today and then again on Friday to compare.  Without further ado, here’s a snapshot of some of the faster-growing garden favorites.

pumpkin buds

June 24, 2013
Female pumpkin buds

young pumpkin

June 24, 2013
Young pumpkin

pumpkin with two snails

June 24, 2013
This pumpkin is further along, but those two snails look suspicious to me. We may not have a pumpkin to photograph.

Basil in the rain

June 24, 2013
Basil in the rain. It’s looking fresh and tasty.


June 24, 2013
Three stages of hydrangeas


June 24, 2013
One of these things is not like the other
The sunflower on the left continues to grow up

Have a terrific week!

Snail Hotel: Hole in One

snail eating pumpkin

Belly up to the bar

A clever and voracious garden snail found a soft spot in one of our pumpkins.  He/she went on a pumpkin bender a few nights ago, slurping an impressive, though disappointing hole in one…pumpkin that is.

Now that they’ve breached the shell , decay will quickly set in. Add to that our spiking temperatures (yet again in the eighties!) and we’ll have a sloppy, slushy, pumpkin mess before week’s end. Taking inspiration from my friend Sheila, I converted the lost pumpkin into a snail hotel. I love my Sharpie’s! I love my pumpkins too, but the damage is done. In addition to counting down to Halloween, I’ll now be counting the days till the Snail Hotel is officially condemned.

pumpkin snail hotel

You can check in any time you like…

snail hotel closeup

Snail Hotel: Mollusks Welcome

Stay tuned!

Halloween Countdown

pirate pumpkin

Pirate Pumpkin
Shiver me Pumpkin Ribs

Slugs and Snails and…Slugs and Snails

You witness life at a whole different level when you crawl around in the dirt.  I was up close and personal with the camera this week, taking pictures of the flowering catnip.  I turned to my left and caught sight of a snail, sliding its way up the side of a fern.  I took several shots, none of which came out, of the snail’s careful journey.  As the gastropod gained height, the fern slowly gave way.  Up and up went the snail, down and down went the frond.  Mesmerizing!  Eventually the snail’s green path dropped but the gastropod, undeterred, continued its ascent.  I backed up and saw the rest of his slippery group heading toward cool shelter for the day.

I felt strangely voyeuristic.  Inadvertently, I stumbled upon the secret hiding place of these unwanted helix aspersa.  I don’t like it when they snack on my garden, yet they seemed harmless and graceful as they slipped out of sight. A friend recently wrote an interesting blog entitled, Evolution: Escargot, Erotica, Empathy about her own awakening to the multitude of creatures that inhabit a French field.

It’s an interesting metaphor for life, I suppose: it’s easier to fear and hate what we don’t like or understand.  A little knowledge goes along way to level the (French) field.