It seems I got ahead of myself when I concluded, after slugs were followed by pigeons, that the next visitor would be an orc.

The missing link was next door’s (fat, spoiled) cat. How indulged the feline fiend is might seem irrelevant but it fuels my ire somehow.

Enemy troops mobilise

Enemy troops mobilise

The good news was that the pigeon lost interest after I hid my smaller seedlings between more established plants and inserted some wooden skewers at strategic points in the pots. In fact, the plants that weren’t pecked to the ground have been shooting with renewed vigour, so perhaps the pigeon is actually the gardener’s friend? Still think I might net my tiny blueberries though.

Anyway, turns out the cat is next in the food chain, and while not interested in eating seedlings, it did decide my freshly planted seed-bed was a litter-tray and left some fragrant deposits.

In response I’ve tried again to block its exit points – though unfortunately next-door has provided it with a convenient staircase to the top of the fence and the cat has spider-powers. Astonishing seeing something so rotund scale a vertical fence. (That’s its move after it’s lost the war of the stare).

I also sprinkled orange peel in the bed: apparently they can’t stand the smell. I’m not convinced it will work but doing something made me feel better. (Although I’m still tempted to offer the offending deposits to my neighbours. We’ve not met yet….)

At least it allows me to see a bright side to the succession of torrential rain showers we’ve had in London in the last couple of days – even if my potatoes and tomatoes all get blight, I don’t think cats like to poo in swamps. (Oh, and some relief from the curse of the container gardener – definitely no watering needed!)

Anyway, while I needed to get that out of my system, I hope that’s my last pestiferious beasties post for a while, as most plants are growing too furiously for any beasties to have the slightest impact. And I’ve been thinking that I should try to create the impression that I can grow something other than garden pests…

"Virtually all of the world's fertile land has passed many times through the gut of earthworms"

"Virtually all of the world's fertile land has passed many times through the gut of earthworms"

Worm Towers is a new-build project offering accommodation across three floors to an initial quarter kilogram of worms, situated in the borders of Kitchen Door and within easy reach of local composting facilities. This eco-friendly development is created entirely from reclaimed materials, and boasts a thriving roof-garden.

Worm Towers offers a significant expansion of local organic waste disposal capacity, with the additional benefit of the rapid generation of a nutritious growing medium.

Project components

(1) Blue delivery tray
Previous work: Supporting the transfer of goods from wholesaler to grocer.
Current position: Facilities support – Raise worm towers above ground level, allowing the operation of (2).

(2) Hummus pot
Previous work: storage of chickpea-based product.
Current position: Distribution executive – collection of nutritious worm fluids and transfer to plant-feeding delivery apparatus.

(3) Cafetiere filter (over drainage hole inside bottom tray)
Previous work: Sifting coffee; made redundant when company disbanded after industrial accident.*
Current position: Security – Facilitating exit of excess fluid while barring descent of stray residents.

(4) Polystyrene food delivery containers
Previous work: transporting mackerel from Cornwall to Frugilegus’ fridge, courtesy of veg-box scheme.**
Current work: Drainage tray, accommodation and catering floors, rooftop garden. It is hoped that the materials selected will help to keep worms cool in summer and stop them freezing to death in summer. Easy to install ventilation and elevator shafts (poke a hole of appropriate size in walls and between floors).

(5) Furnishing
Shredded newspaper presoaked in rain-water, handful of compost to help residents settle in, damp cardboard covering. Residents are then supplied with food-waste and the occasional portion of ground down eggshells as they dislike acidic conditions. For this reason, onions and citrus fruits are also avoided.

(6) Caretaker
Residents start life on the bottom floor, remaining there until they have filled it with poo. They will then continue their work on further floors. The caretaker of Worm Towers provides regular food and fresh bedding at a rate tailored to residents’ appetites and clears up after them, replacing cleaned floors at a higher level in the building for their continued use. Luckily the worm casts provide a fertile growing medium for use in the surrounding garden.

(7) Roof garden
The stark modernist design of Worm Towers may not to be everyone’s taste, but its impact on the landscape is softened by the fragrant flowering plants that adorn its top floor. While the plants require some watering in hot weather, any excess water is not wasted, as it drips through the building maintaining cool and damp conditions on lower floors.

* Yes, it was dropped

** I know, I know, I’m supposed to return them for re-use. But I forgot to put them out, and then stopped ordering after a succession of vegetable disappointments.

The evidence

The evidence

I accidentally conducted a test under controlled circumstances, and was amazed by the results.

Method and equipment:

I brought some nice clean looking peppermint in from the garden this morning, and left it in a jar, and the picture above shows what remained in the jar at the end of the day. One fat caterpillar, some chewed up stalks, and a big pile of poo.

Results:

  • Green loopers much prefer mint to lemon balm
  • They  can defecate twice  their own body weight in a 12 hour period.

Conclusion:

My proper place is obviously at primary school, and not at the front of the class. But at least this is an interesting variation on measuring how much leaf a caterpillar has  devoured.