September 2010


Lately, I’ve been spending insufficient time harvesting and preserving, a little bit of time sowing something for winter, and a great deal of time watching small beasts.

Even a little pot garden is a city in itself, and the compost bin is a tower block. If bustling life is a good indicator for rapid decomposition, it’s absolutely thriving.

Bustling equals a very audible rustling when the lid is opened and thousands of woodlice react to the intrusion. These busy little detritivores seem to do most of the work and as much as I chuck in the level drops by another few inches each week.

They really have the most peculiar charm.  I understand the reasons why us humans might have (relatively) illogical urges to care for big-eyed fluffy kittens but have not been able to pin down why woodlice can elicit similar feelings. I don’t think it’s just me: I learned recently that some people know them as ‘chuggypigs’ – a name that seems imbued with a certain amount of affection.

I could watch them for a long time and – when I have pressing tasks to do – have watched for a very very long time…

Occasionally I am distracted by juicy great worms which, though mostly content to munch away below, sometimes sashay to the surface. Or by the sight of a truly fearsome slug or a spider very keen to get more closely acquainted with the friendly little woodlice. All good signs of a thriving ecosystem.

I have pictures of these bugs too but it has recently been suggested to me that not everyone likes to look at such things and that perhaps one can overdo the slime, defecation and violent death. So I shall resist and hope there is no objection to the quirky little fellows above.

Flowers or something else pretty/ fragrant/otherwise inoffensive next; more death and poo next week.

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A very hungry caterpillar

Happily the basil seems well able to support a couple of hairy tenants