After 6 weeks of cold, with rain every day, it seems the slug population which was decimated by the cold winter has had a population explosion. In a few days they have demolished one courgette (one of the replacements!), two pumpkins, a few parsnips, all my parsley and coriander and more. Above is the single climbing french bean, which is one of my experiments for the year. You can barely see it now because every leaf has been gobbled up by the slugs. The runner beans are doing better, but have been similarly pruned.
There are a number of weeds in this picture, but you can just pick out four cabbage plants which are all that survive from my summer cabbage seed bed. The broccoli is similarly massacred. So I will have to see what I can find left in the vegetable plant section at the garden centre. Very depressing, I do use environmentally friendly slug pellets but I'm convinced there are so many slugs and snails they are crawling over the dead bodies of their comrades to get to my delicious plants. Not a lot you can do, except pray for a dry spell and a plague of frogs and toads to eat them up.
So then I took a look at my redcurrants to see I had visitors there also. You can see the stripped stalks of redcurrant clusters. I suspect woodpigeons are to blame, I've caught them pinching my strawberries before. I don't net my fruit as generally I don't need to, this is the most severe damage in 10 years. Happily, there are many, many more redcurrants out of the reach of the birds. Every year brings its ups and downs - last year the potatoes and broad beans were dreadful due to the drought, but we had an excellent crop of cabbages instead.
There are a lot of strawberries but they're all still green due to the awful weather. Another week should see the start of our harvest.
My bush tomatoes are doing surprisingly well, since they spent their first few weeks under cloches, out of the cold and rain. They're flowering now, and look very healthy. Wish I had tried these varieties years ago.
So onto the good news; the first raspberries are now ready, lots more to come. And I've dug the first few potatoes - Pentland Javelin, a first early. They're not bad, though smaller than I would have liked since we had a long dry spell when they were doing some of their growing. But the later potatoes are looking healthy and growing well (cross fingers) so I think we may have a good harvest this year.
And here's the first picking of currants; I decided to take off the ripest redcurrants so the woodpigeons don't get the opportunity - they only go for red berries so they've left the whitecurrants and blackcurrants alone. There's a good crop of blackcurrants, so this is the first picking.
So now I'm hoping for a dryer spell, it has been very warm over the last couple of days but is cooling down a bit this evening. 2011 really is shaping up to be the year of weather.