Joy Warren talks about Claver Hill’s ‘slug’ club in this week’s local food column

joy warren






Braving the rain and wind I prepared myself for Claver Hill…

I was wrapped in so many layers of quilt and waterproof that I felt like the Michelin Man. I noticed that my welly rattled but I shoved my foot into it regardless. I felt a squishy, crunchy sensation and knew what I would find – one flattened snail stuck to the bottom of my sock. This was marginally less yucky than my sister Liz who squashed a baby mouse in her welly!

As I transport a lot of pots and plants in my car, slugs and snails often hitch a lift and make appearances when they can cause peak embarrassment. Yesterday I was doing a table top sale when a customer brought me a pretty little box. Three slugs were napping on the velvet!

Pondering the question of ‘woman versus slug’, I drifted into Claver Hill’s compost toilet. Totally engrossed by slugs, I noticed nothing odd about the shed.

Apparently slugs make a tolerable ‘mushroom’ omelette, but a bit gritty. Although we do not use pesticides on Claver, we have other deadly weapons to use against slugs: garlic, sawdust, ashes, copper, fur…We will try them all!

However, as I stepped out of the compost toilet I knew how Dorothy felt when her house landed in Oz. The fence, previously straight ahead of me was now on my right. I stepped into mud instead of decking. Patsy, Lin and Cath gathered round. Cath announced that we were still on the soggy land of Claver but facing north instead of east. Apparently 84mph winds aren’t as strong as the tornadoes in Kansas, but they can still move a shed off its base!

The winds also brought torrential rain. Water flowed in one end of my polytunnel and out the other. It was horrible to work in but there was one advantage: hundreds of slugs were washed to the surface. Qi Mei (a volunteer) collected the floating slugs in cups and speared them on barbed wire for the birds to eat (when I was not watching)…

I am now thinking of throwing a ‘Slugs, Snails and Deer party’ in the poly tunnel. Everyone can come with torches and search in the dark for the slugs when they come out at night to feed. If we keep quiet we could listen to the dusk chorus. At dusk we also have a good chance of seeing the deer. Who knows what else we will see after a few party drinks?


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