The dilemmas of organic gardening…

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To squash or not to squash, that is the question. 
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The blackfly on the outrageously delicious broadbeans,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of ants
And by opposing, end them (with Ecover and a nailbrush): to kill, to sleep
Knowing they’ll be back again in the morning…

(Sorry Shakespeare!)

My friend Lynn finds it impossible to mow the daisies in her lawn, and manoeuvers around them leaving starry patches in the grass; she doesn’t grow broadbeans as she finds it too cruel to shuck them out of their furry sleeping bags, and as for pruning – it gives her the willies: “It’s like cutting someone’s fingers off” she says. My mother is just as bad. When I set off to walk the dog, she runs to catch me up with an old ice-cream tub full of snails. She can’t kill them or poison them, so it’s my job to release them to their fate on the clifftop. I’m quite tough in comparison, but try to avoid killing things. I do pull up the groundsel knowing the goldfinches (which I love) thrive on them, and I have to admit, I have no compunction in chucking a slug in a bucket of water. But yesterday, when I was picking some broadbeans for lunch, I saw the dreaded blackfly had struck on the fresh shoots at the top. Off I went to fetch rubber gloves, hot soapy water and a soft nailbrush, and thoughtlessly set about destroying them. But as I looked more closely, I saw the ants fleeing down the stems, away from the aphids they’d so meticulously herded and milked for their honeydew, and I realised I’d just trashed a little ecosystem; made beings homeless and who knows – perhaps the beans themselves liked the tickle of ants… Oh! the dilemmas of organic gardening. Anyway, here are a few pictures of the gardens here at The Write Factor, looking lovely in the summer sunshine.


Rob Swan

Rob Swan

Managing Director at The Write Factor
I recently started bell ringing in the hope that it would help to straighten out my bad back only to be reminded by a friend that, "It didn't do Quasimodo any good."
Rob Swan

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  1. Emily Cunningham July 14, 2015 at 10:16 am

    I have no compunction about having a pot of salty water in the garden that I can fling slugs and snails into. Feel a bit mean but I have just bought some delphiniums. And we didn’t get to eat ANY of our strawberries due to slugs and birds pouncing the moment they are red. It’s dog eat dog. Or slug eat strawberry.

    • The Shed Dwellers July 14, 2015 at 10:31 am

      We set up a willow arch with hanging CDs over our strawberries to deter the blackbirds, only to wander around the corner one sunny morning to see them preening themselves in the reflections whilst feasting.

      • Emily Cunningham July 14, 2015 at 10:33 am

        I tried using straw but the slugs made themselves baskets.

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