• September 15, 2021

Hitting it in the trenches

In an effort to introduce a ray of sunlight into a particularly gloomy conversation, I recently asked an acquaintance who worked in the garden to explain the difference between a slug and a snail.

For the next twelve minutes and seven seconds, this horticultural monomaniac sustained the tiniest and most inconsequential differences between gastropod mollusks with rudimentary or shellless shells and gastropod mollusks with well-developed whorl or spiral shells. When he finally gasped, I gulped, took three precautionary steps back, and told him that a slug is a snail that can’t pay a mortgage.

Instead of grinning like he had when I first discovered this silly definition in a copy of ‘The Readers Digest’ (dentist’s waiting room edition), he clenched his dentures, cracked his callused knuckles and growled so shrill that the button almost exploded from his neck.

He went on to catalog in some detail the multiple acts of vandalism perpetrated by these ‘horticultural thugs’ who, he said, spend every hour of daylight hiding under the stones, brooding darkly on last night’s terrible destruction and the assaults planned for this. evening.

He proceeded to ridicule the ‘green well weaklings’ who scatter tiny handfuls of slug pellets around vulnerable flowers and vegetables every night; and the poor drunk who wanders home every night with a bottle of beer to attract and drown the odd slug fool enough to mistake his little beer traps for hospitality vats.

“I’ve suffered enough from the same damn slugs over the years without starting to buy them drink,” he said. ‘There is only one answer for those brutes … all military action!’

His eyes turned incandescent with malevolent glee as he described his nightly outings to the flower and lettuce beds where, armed with a commando-style torch and a giant barrel of table salt, he ventured in search of the enemy … an avalanche. lethal sodium chloride cascading inexorably on the chewing mollusks …

“Oh, slug, your unfortunate move, my thoughtless hand has swept away.”

“I’ve suffered enough from the same damn slugs over the years without starting to buy them drink,” he said. ‘There is only one answer for those brutes … all military action!’

Grinning wickedly, he described in graphic detail an evil plan, which he had been working on in the privacy of his horticultural bunker. I can’t recall the preliminary tactical maneuvers, but I do recall that they culminated in him leaping gymnastically from the top of a thorn hedge and landing directly on an unsuspecting black slug just as he was about to devour an equally unsuspecting French marigold.

Chilled to the core from his demonic laugh, I suddenly remembered that I had parked in a double yellow line. So, wishing him well, I jumped over his rustic fence and fled.

On the way home, I pictured him flipping hysterical cartwheels among lima beans and brassicas as he celebrated each decisive victory over those tiny marauders in the moonlight.

While walking through our local market a few months ago, I saw a particularly ostentatious display of French marigolds. Acting on impulse, I bought three dozen and planted them that night. The next morning I went out into the garden to admire the results of my debut as Capability Brown Mark 11.

Would you believe it My proud wonders had vanished! Yes, totally! All but three pathetic-looking survivors with broken necks and tattered stems. On closer inspection, I discovered the unmistakable and revealing silt trails that led triumphantly to the adjoining hedge. As one garden writer described them: “The obscene graffiti of one night’s destruction … is an insult to injury.”

Apoplegic with rage, I was looking for something to kick hard and often suddenly, through the thick black smoke and the suffocating stench of mental cordite, conjured up the image of my gardener friend with his glowing torch and gigantic barrel of salt desk. .

“So look for your job with gratitude and work until you get new orders, if it’s just fishing for strawberries or killing slugs at the borders.”

With these inspiring words from Kipling ringing in my ears, that night I, too, joined the ranks of the horticultural stormtroopers and came out armed and ready to hit the ground running with that hideous gardening gastropod: The Slug.

‘Slugging It Out In The Trincheras’ is taken from ‘Apples on a Sunny Shelf’. Watch: [http://www.assignmentsplus.com/garden-pests.html]

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