animals


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Toad (Bufo bufo) and Leopard slug (Limax maximus)

A new toad has claimed the garden territory. It is still shy when I meet it, particularly in the greenhouse. However, it is calmer than at our first meeting.

It appears to be a friendly little creature. I have seen it cradle with one of the leopard slugs. I hope they join their forces to keep the killer slugs out of the garden.
The hedgehog has also started to patrol the garden, especially in the part of the garden where I find killer slugs. The old toad had no problems with hedgehogs, and I hope the new toad will befriend the hedgehogs in the same spirit.

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The killer slug, Arion lusitanicus, have invaded the garden

It’s been many years since the killer slugs was found in a garden nearby. Since then I have every summer expected the invasion. Now it happened, with many years of delay. I have found two adults and four youths in all, on three occasions, within the last three weeks. I have often searched in the garden morning or evening without finding any killer slugs. But now I probably should get the habit of these late walks to round up the slugs, and I hope it will become a dear habit.
They are nicknamed killer slugs, but we are killing more of them, than visa-versa.

A lot of snails and slugs live in the garden already. Since the news of killer slugs approaching, I’ve been more gentle towards my old snails and slugs. It visible in the number of burgundy snails, which has increased from rare to ordinary. They eat tits and bits of my plants, but less than would be annoying. I want them to stay, so I will not use poison or nematodes against the killer slugs. Change my mind later? Maybe! But first I will try to find a balanced way to live with them, and only kill them individually, when I find them, not to suppress my friends, the “old” snails and slugs.

Does anybody know for certain, if the are edible – maybe even delicious?
I could build a cage to collect them, until enough for an hors d’oeuvre. This way I might even be thankful for the day they finally arrived 🙂

From my “old snails and slugs” I have learned, that some things, like germinating melons must be protected, or they will feast on the tender sprouts. But when the plants get just a little larger, they are out of danger. Coffee, ground, fresh or from used filters, keep my “old” snails and slugs off the germinating plants, and no harm done (I hope). I will continue and intensify the use of coffee (it’s also good for the soil).

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Toad in 2007

The toad has not returned from the mating pond in the neighbourhood. I’ve given up the hope of its return. In 1995 we met an adult toad in the garden when we moved in to the house. Now I’m convinced it is dead. We lived many season in our garden in company with the toad. We still think of the garden, as the toad’s garden. Now we hope for a young toad to move in and make the garden its territory.

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Leek moth (Acrolepiopsis assectella) in garlic (Allium sativum)

This season the leek moth have again visited the garden. Last year it lived in the leek as supposed to, but this year it has developed a taste for garlic. I’m the first to understand. I’ve only found one affected garlic, but the largest specimen. It bored in to the flowerstalk, lived a live in luxury in there. I didn’t notice any serious signs until after harvest, when curing the garlic. It took on a tan color and an unpleasant odeour, not at all like garlic should smell. I had to check it out – guess the photo show my findings better than I can describe.

Next year the leek moth will be back. They only fly short distances. Can I keep the number down in my garden by being on the watch out for the first signs of leek moth, cut out the small garlic consuming beast – I might actually keep their numbers at a minimum. Nobody feeds them in the neighboring gardens by growing alliums.

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Locals was invited for the coffee in the garden

The annual meeting was this year on the island Samsø. Ingrid, Lila and others had planned a wonderfull week-end. We have a tradition for visiting a lot of interesting places during our annual meetings.

Brian Krause has a post in danish on the meeting.
I mostly post pictures.

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Annette Mørch tells us about her Dexter cattle and the sheeps. She run an ecologic farm

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Ingrid has a passion for tomatoes, here German Striped and Brandywine

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Ingrid presents the museumgarden she tends

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I was surprised to find Virginia tobacco and hemp in the museum garden – it’s a hemp for rope, no use trying to smoke it! Both are old culture plants on Samsø island

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Homestead Fredensdal is part of Samsø Ecomuseum

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“Den jydske hest” called Herkules is an old danish breed

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Fredensdal is one of a very few places to meet the old danish breed “sortbroget dansk landrace svin”. Wonderfull pet pigs

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Gute sheeps are the most important employees in the islands department for environment

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The sheeps takes care of a beautiful landscape

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Both ducks and people live in cosy houses in village Nordby, who would guess they have a solar heat plant?

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Nordby’s solar heat plant

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After a long week-end with long walks, legs had grown somewhat long. Nice to spend hours on the ferry home remembering the good time

On the danish version of this blogMerete jokingly commented(in danish) that you can eat the burgundy snail. This comment made me do the effort to find my uncle’s recipe for escargots. Svend Holt had a small snail farm, and sold the prepared escargots to gourmet restaurents. They were popular, and I would like to share his recipe:

My uncle’s escargots

Burgundy snails comes in two sizes. The small ones must grow a year more, pick only the big ones.

Feed the snails boiled spaghetti in a dry cage. They eat the spaghetti, and when all feces is white, and the snail have retires to their houses it’s time to boil the water.

Add the snails one at a time, and boil for 2 min. Now you can twist the snail out of the house, holding the snail with a tiny fork, and try to get even the tiniest curl out of the house. Cut off the curls (intestines), and work the snails with coarse salt to rub off the mucus.

In a mixture of 1/3 water and 2/3 white wine add 5 great onions, a few cloves, 1 celery, 2 leeks, 4 carrots in slices, 1 teaspoon grounded white pepper, 2 spoons of salt, 1 bunch of parsley, 2 twigs of thyme and 4 laurel leaves.

Boil snails 4 hours, or 105 min. in a pressurecooker.
Meanwhile clean the houses thoroughly in washing soda solution. Control by holding them up against the light. There must be no remains of the snail in the house. Houses must fall to the bottom of the water.

After boiling strain, and freze the surplus of escargots in the soup. They stay fresh in the freezer at least a year.

Serve with garlic butter in the house, then the escargot and top with parsley butter. Heat them for 10-12 min. at 120 C.

This recipe is for 100-200 burgundy snails.

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Burgundy snail Helix pomatia

Weeding in the garden, I stumbled upon the burgundy snail. I must have looked frightening with the hoe in my hand, the snail quickly withdraw the tentacles. Could it speak I surely had heard it say: “I’m no killer slug”.

The burgundy snail is a welcome guest in the garden, just as the leopard slug. Together they are the reason I do not use slug poison, slug nematodes or the beer traps. The have their place in the ecosystem in the garden, the live here in moderate numbers and they are a joy to meet. Slugs and snail are also health food for the toad – he who rules in the garden. Only in case of a serious slug attack will I try to moderate the slug balance in the garden. It could very well happen this summer, as the “killer slug” was reported in the next street last summer. For that reason I’m alert on slugs this year, hope to stop them “at the gate”, and hope for help from the toad, the leopard slug and the burgundy snail.

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