Green Garden Blues


Snail Haiku

Snails in my garden,
eating all the new plant leaves.
Slimy little thieves.

It would be wrong of me to let yesterday’s post, celebrating the first beans harvested from my garden, imply that I am some sort of naturally green-thumbed songwriter, turned farmer.

As I approach middle age, it is true that I have planted my fair share of vegetables over the years ~  but mostly between small suburban back-yard furows or within crowded community gardens.  However, this year’s plot is the largest and the most challenging one I have even attempted.   Perhaps that is why this week’s beans were such cause of celebration and reflection.

The truth be known ~ it has been a daily struggle to even keep alive what vegetables have sprouted over the past month and a half.   My veggie patch has been more like a intensive care unite for legumes than a place of cultivation and life.  As of lately, I have nicknamed my garden “Kabristan” (Urdu for “grave yard”).   Each day I joke with family and friends saying, “Well, I am on my way to see who I must honour with funeral prayers today.”  First it was the romaine lettuce, then the spinach, then the carrots….   Mr. Asparagus never even bothered to even pop out a sprout – cheeky little brat.

My estimation of time for gardening, based on the size of land tilled, was about 30 minutes per day of weeding in wet weather and about 30 minutes every-other-day during dry spells.

So far though, I’ve realized I would need to put in upwards of 2-3 hours every day ~ rain or shine ~ to keep things alive.    I’ve managed to save some peas, beans, beets and a few tomato plants….with the cauliflower hanging on by just prayers and threads of roots.   In fact, part of why I have been so irregular about posting on this blog lately is due to my excessive work load, trying to juggle music related production with house chores and my garden!  There is just so little time to sit and write!

When dealing with nature’s ways, blame for things not going our way can never be placed on one particular source.  In the case of my garden ~ both Creation and I have been in a one month tug-o-war,  each trying to assert who is in control, with the result that we are both to blame for poor helpless vegetables being stunted beneath our feet.  “We plan and God plans” ~ as has been written over centuries.

As far as I can deduce, the reasons for my struggles are:

1. My tardiness in planting.  I was almost 2 months late in preparing my soil and getting my seeds in the ground due to a late return from America and the completion of a music related project that had me locked in my studio day and night for many weeks.  Note to self:  a man only gets so many harvests in his life…never let frivolous tasks or excuses jeopardize the planting of seeds.

2. My decision to use seeds for all the plants (especially so late in the season) when I should have used saplings.   Foolish pride had me determined to grow everything independently.  Since I was unable to grow saplings due to travel and hell bent on not paying money for saplings started in a nursery, I ended up planting late with seeds…. for disastrous results.  Note to self: get over ego and seek help when necessary.

3. My furrows were too deep and I didn’t use compost to fertilize the soil.  I was rushing like a goofy chicken to get the seeds in and when asked by several people if I’d churned compost into the soil, I just kept saying “It’ll be fine.”.   Notes to self: Slow down… get over ego and take good advice when offered.

4. The field I tilled was of poor quality for vegetables.   It had only ever been covered with grass, weeds and mustard plants and had never been properly tilled for a garden.   Though I turned the soil as deeply as possible without a plough, my effort was nothing compared to the power of the weeds I tried to bury.    That, combined with…

5. Late planting, on the doorstep of monsoon season, meant that the garden was flooded with rain almost daily/nightly for a good 10 days straight – giving weeds plenty of water to suck away from sprouting seeds.

6. Heavy rains also caused very bad soil erosion, exposing the roots and demanding me to painstakingly transplant almost all my baby carrots, spinach, beets and cauliflower sprouts.   With each night of rain, more transplanting was often needed the next day.   The shock of such an effort, regardless of how carefully I attempted to transplant,  took the lives of many little plants.

7. My garden plot is located in a very moist area inhabited by tens of thousands of hungry snails.    One evening of rain and those little gaffers party like there will be no tomorrow ~ devouring whatever they can get their munching mouths on.

I’ve had advice that a few bowls of beer set near the garden will attract the snails and keep them from attacking the plants, but alas, beer is not “officially sold” here in Pakistan and thus not possible  for me to use on the pretty pests.   The option of trying to secure some beer through the black market does exist, but to inquire would pose great suspicion on me as a new-comer to the area.  Even asking about where to get my hands on a few bottles would start gigantic rumour mills ~ as nobody would ever believe that I wanted the brew for my garden snails, regardless of how I’d try to make my case for being an abstainer from the beverage myself.  Funny how booze  is such a taboo in some communities, but gossip runs rampant, intoxicating people with it’s suspicions.

If anybody has another suggestion for the snail problem – I’d be much obliged.

…So with spade and hoe, onward I go,
to fight for my veggies ~ day after day.
Chasing the snails, braving rains and gales,
just a waterlogged Don Quixote.

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Categories: Garden, Simple Living, Struggles & Setbacks

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11 thoughts on “Green Garden Blues

  1. MoonTreeMusic

    Note to self: Learn to eat weeds! 😉

  2. MoonTreeMusic

    …and escargot….

  3. 🙂 the pic u posted of the snail, is so cute! Best option would probably be to plant some mint, Rosemary n basil around the borders of your veggies. That way u have lovely herbs for cooking n 🙂 hopefully a snail free garden. Alternatively, 🙂 do as the French n cook them in garlic butter 😀

  4. Eating weeds…I’m not too sure about. With my luck I’d inadvertently make a Poison Ivy salad and be scratching from the inside for months afterward – if it didn’t kill me.

    But Escargot: You can be sure I will be eating all the escargot I can get my hands on until I die…just to make sure I chomp as many of these beasts little cousins as I can get my teeth on!

    As for frying these particular snails: Hmmmmmmmmm?… Let’s just: say I’d sooner get even with them by eating their relatives in a nice French restaurant abroad ~ where I don’t have to be the one to de-shell them.

    First stop when I get back to my hometown is to pop into M&M Meats and get some of these:
    http://www.mmmeatshops.com/en/products/product.asp?productID=345&catID=2

  5. 🙂 does look yummy! Wondering what it would taste like….

  6. DahlFace

    Oh Dawud, I killed a mint plant within days of buying it, so at least you can always remember me when you feel like you’re not the best Gardener in the world.
    …I missed out on this year’s planting season ’cause of uni. Boo.
    Next year, I am so planting any and every seed I can get my hands on.

    Oooh, about snails, have you tried crunching up egg shells and putting them around your veggie bits?
    The mother was creating a huge slug/snail morgue in our garden using pellets, which upset me… Even though I am still terrified of those slimey buggers. Since using eggshells, we don’t have such a big slug/snail munching problem. The still climb up our front door, though. Euch.

  7. Escargot are often served up alongside mushrooms, soaked in garlic butter and covered in cheese. Quite honestly, sometimes its hard for me to tell the difference between the snails and the mushrooms.

  8. Hahahaha… thanks for posting DahlFace. You killed a mint plant? Yikes…that is pretty scary! I thought mint was indestructible! Sorry for your loss, but now I can’t pass my mint (right at my front gate) without thinking of you and smiling! Glad I wasn’t the only who missed planting season too. I love your passion for next year though – “Plant every seed I can get my hands on!”. You go my friend!! Thanks for the tip too on egg shells. Crazy thing – another person suggested that to me too on Facebook the same day you did! Great minds think alike. I still have some beets that the snails haven’t eaten yet…I’ll try the egg shell trick out on those “slimy buggers” too. Hahahahaha… “Front door…” Hahahahahah… Euch.”(Gosh, you crack me up…) Please come back again.

  9. Jasmine Williams

    Assalaamu alaikum.

    What an interesting blog! Thankyou brother Dawud for sharing.
    Everything was going fine until I saw the snail pic. I know they look very sweet with their little house on their back doing their thing.. but, how can people eat them? how could anyone actually pull the house/shell off and throw it in a pan? Ok..I have a phobia about slugs. I am scared of them and at the moment they are hanging out in my garden…black ones, and strange greeny ones with yellowish stripes. What can I do? a couple of weeks ago in the garden I screamed after moving my cats house only to find 6 slugs cuddling up to eachother underneath. I called my daughter and asked her to pour salt on them (saying astagfirullah first) then they melted. I felt so bad thinking how much pain I must have caused them, but that was the only way I could finish my work in the garden.
    I’m not scared of spiders or other insects (apart from moths because they tend to flutter towards me, chasing me) so I don’t know why I hate slugs so much. Although I can remember when I lived in Nairobi/mombasa..there were LOADS there, but I was young and can’t remember feeling this scared.

    Anyway, I have been listening to Brother Dawuds songs since embracing islam..a few years now, alhamdulillah they always fill me with peace and my children love them too. I wondered why I like these songs more than those of other Nasheed artists. I then realised that they bring back some memories of my childhood. Between the age of 7-11yrs we (my mother and I) lived in Kenya, and for 1 of those years I lived in a hare krishna temple without my mother. I got great joy after prayer time when the singing and playing of the murdanga drum (is it spelt like that?) took place and all the kids would jump up and down in saris etc having a great time. I loved the sound of the duff drum, the sitar, flute, especially when surrounded by nature. Had I not been physically forced to leave the temple shouting “krishna save me” lol by my mother I think I’d still be there.. as I crave peace, a simple setting, pure food (in small amounts). When studying islam aged about 21 I had to make the choice between starting a singing career (as music was my love) or embracing islam and not listening to music which was haram. I chose Islam. At that time I thought there was somewhere I could go…somewhere to be away from the world and focus on my faith, then I learnt that islam isn’t like that…you have to live a full life, I guess it would be too easy to try and hide from the realities of life.. but what if you didn’t like how the world was? what if you needed to be away from it in order to be the best muslim you could be?There are no masjids anywhere where you live for the rest of your life as a monk type studying all day while children played in a courtyard…maybe I’m going on about nothing…I’m from London..have travelled abit and lived abroad..nowhere feels like home, but everywhere is home. I’ve always wanted to go to india…the cows, have a little house, and farm, peace, birds. Nowhere seems to be safe anymore! Perhaps I should make the place/life I seek in my own home…even if it’s just in a bedroom. I hope I haven’t come across as a moaner! subhan’Allah, I am happy with anything I have, just turned on the news…and feel even more grateful to Allah swt.

  10. Jasmine Williams

    Re: slugs/snails… I tried pouring salt around slug no go areas (including the path going through the garden and around the doorstep) only to find their slimy white trails again… I heard beer works too, just can’t bring myself to buy any. Plus the fact that I’d probably have to deal with loads of snails and slugs being invited for a drink by me…and I just can’t associate with them eeeeeeeeww

  11. Eid mubarak to everyone!

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