The snails are out in force this year

A snail invasion (s)

A snail invasion (s)

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I suppose the word that sums up the weather over early June has been “unsettled.”

Periods of hot sunshine have been followed by a rumble of thunder, a short sharp shower and, occasionally, a deluge.

We were due to attend a barbecue hosted by friends. As we finished work there were some heavy spits of rain, but we managed to lock up and get away without a soaking.

At home, a sharp shower necessitated a dash into the house. I was not looking forward to a night of burnt food eaten under an umbrella. But we had promised to be there, so we had to attend. Without enthusiasm we set off.

All around us were troubled skies, with menacing clouds, pierced by evening sunshine, but at least it was dry. And so it stayed as we followed the M62 to Huddersfield. We enjoyed a pleasant evening as we munched our way through some beautifully cooked chicken. Very enjoyable and no rain.

Driving back, however, we noticed the dry roads suddenly becoming wet near Ramsbottom with pools of floodwater. Next morning my younger daughter confirmed our suspicions. It had been, she said, like a tropical storm.

This means the ground has had a real soaking and, with warm temperatures, plants have been growing superbly. They quickly recover from a pounding by the rain when growing conditions are so good, but be aware, it isn’t just plants that are doing well.

Slugs love these conditions and you should take measures to control their numbers. Like them or loathe them, blue slug pellets remain the most effective means of protecting plants. In my garden, however, I use liquid Slug Clear, which leaves no residue to be picked up by animals, though personally in 30 years I’ve never seen an animal show the slightest interest.

Otherwise you can protect pots with copper banding, or open a slug pub with pots of beer sunk in the soil. Another weapon at your disposal is the tennis racket.

With Wimbledon drawing near there is a great opportunity to improve your racket skills by launching offending molluscs into the field. Particularly this year, as it is snails rather than slugs which seem to be the problem. One customer had 60 of the blighters in one pot. I don’t think Murray need worry, however, as good as my forehand now is, my service still needs a lot of work on it.