This spring, like every spring, I declared "this year I shall have an amazing vegetable garden".

I already have some of the ingredients for an amazing vegetable garden: A patch of ground just the right size, and several specially designed garden-manure-producing organisms also known as horses and ponies.

There are also some goats and chooks to eat weeds and any sub-standard veges I choose to fling over the paddock fence.

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All set then. I could picture myself meandering through the lush foliage, dressed in a flowy frock and broad-brimmed flappy straw hat tied on with a wide ribbon, trug swinging from the crook of my arm, pausing here and there to pick a luscious strawberry or a shiny crisp lettuce...

Most years this vision sustains me just long enough to walk round the corner of the shed, recoil in horror at the waist-high weedpatch that my vege garden hides under, and rush inside muttering things about how cheap seasonal veges are in the shops in the summer.

This year I was tough. I was hard, I pulled on my gumboots and my gardening gloves, rolled up my sleeves, sharpened my spade, dusted off my fork and and...chickened out and reached for the weed sprayer.

Some of those weeds had a very shifty look about them. I didn't want to get into hand-to-hand combat with something taller than me and with a far longer reach.

A week or so after I implemented my scorched earth policy all that was left were mallow weeds and a giant puffball.

Mallow weeds are the cockroaches of the plant world. I've often heard that, should there be a nuclear holocaust, cockroaches will be the only creatures that survive. I strongly believe that if they do they will be found peering out from under the indestructible mallow weeds in my garden.

The giant puffball I can't account for. I seem to grow one or two of these football-sized fungi each year. I don't do it deliberately and I find them a little creepy.

Just days later things got creepier.


My garden grew several piles of very tiny instant noodles. At least that's what it looked like until I bent down and peered closer, only to find the piles of tiny noodles were moving.

I leaped about 20 metres backwards, then regrouped and bravely photographed one of the writhing masses. Then I got even braver and recorded a video, which may or may not have had an inadvertent voice-over of someone yelling ooh yuk repeatedly, and then some swear words.

I sent the pictures and video to a handy bug-loving friend. She's like Ruud the bug-man, only female. So, the bug-woman.

The bug-woman informed me that my wriggling little buddies were pot worms and they were "good guys".

Which made me feel a little guilty as I had just scooped them up with my longest-handled shovel and heaved them over the fence into the sheep paddock.

It took me a couple of days to return to the scene of the crime, in case the pot worms were regrouping and looking for revenge.

But no, no pot worms when next I ventured gardenwards.

I did think they were back when I saw the off-white piles of...something...on the ground. But pot worms would have been a delight, compared to this latest horror.
It looked like something had sicked up.

But instead of being on top of the dying grass, it was coming from underneath the grass.
I did what people normally do, when faced with the unknown.

I poked it with a stick.

The poked substance turned slimy and kind of melted. Then it turned sort of orange.
There was only one explanation that I could think of. Aliens had invaded my vegetable garden.

Again I took a picture, but this time I didn't stick around for a video. I sent the picture to the bug-woman, as she's also pretty good with weeds and weird plants.

This was neither.

She shared the picture with some of her fungus-loving friends (who thought there would be such people?) and within minutes I had an answer. It wasn't an alien invasion, no it was far worse.

My garden was growing a plasmodial slime mould.

A slime mould that went by the appealing name of "dog vomit fungus" and it ate dead plant matter.

What joy.
Instead of lush foliage and shiny red strawberries, I have a vege garden that grows mallow weed, giant puffballs, pot worms and dog vomit slime mould.

I'm cautious about going into my garden now.

Despite my best efforts to plant peas and beans and lettuce there is still a large dog vomit fungus lurking on the old willow log in the corner and it scares me. And scarier still is the anticipation: What on earth will my garden offer up next?