Thursday, 29 May 2008

Slugs, no snails!

Since the torrential rain of the past few days, the slugs have declared war, and have been feasting on any small tasty plant they can find. My radishes are a favourite with all the enemy, from the tiny black ones to the large creamy white ones. I have some nemaslug on order, nematodes that are watered into the ground, and then they attack the slugs. As most slugs live below ground these little critters are pretty efficient at seek and destroy missions, although there are a few things that can cause problems. They find it difficult to move through clay soil, and the ground has to be kept moist. We will probably get a drought now, just as they arrive!

If you decide to give them a go you can order packs online, but check not only the price, but the delivery costs too. Some places deliver free, others charge as much as £4. I usually get mine from Greengardener. They have always been reliable, will happily discuss any problems you have, and even sent out replacement packs when my sister and I felt the nematodes hadn't killed many slugs. When they arrive they must be kept in the fridge and as they are living creatures, they have to be applied within 2 weeks. You do need a coarse rose for the watering can though, as it can easily get blocked with the carrier substance they use. If you do have snails as well as slugs the website says customers have reported less snails too, but there are no official claims that they are effective against them.

I spent quite a while yesterday sorting plants from the greenhouse into their final pots. All the courgettes and patty pans are now planted up; it will be interesting to see how Cavil do. This is a quote from the Thompson and Morgan Website "Unique parthenocarpic habit (ability to set fruit without pollination), therefore adverse weather, poor light levels and a lack of pollinating insects does not affect cropping performance!" By the way, they appear to still have their half price seed sale on at the moment, if anyone out there is interested.

The potatoes bines are trying to take over the world, and many are coming into flower, which is supposed to be a sign the tubers are forming underground. I have found in the past it is best to give them a bit longer if you want a decent crop, but as usual I am dying of curiosity to see how we have done this year. Homegrown new potatoes, yum!!

I am really pleased with the home grown watercress so far. It keeps trying to flower, but I'm picking off the shoots so regularily that it doesn't really get a chance, except for the pot I am growing for seed production. I suppose I could also plant up some of the shoots as they root really easily at the leaf joint, but I don't know if it will be possible to keep it going through the winter, so seeds are an insurance policy. Salads at the moment rely heavily on radish, watercress and lettuce; it will be lovely when the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers join the line up.

Flowers wise, the climbing rose took a battering from the storms, but is still covered with lovely scented blooms. I need to get the secateurs out and deadhead for repeat flowers. Vicky's Ice Cream rose is a bit later this year, as a lot of the early growth died off for some reason, but is finally showing small buds. I've planted up the fuchsias and geraniums, together with the free scented begonias sent from Thompson and Morgan. I am pleased I didn't pay for them though, only 4 out of 6 grew! I've pushed the boat out and ordered some half price double petunias, which I adore, and some patio growing bags, which have handles so they are easy to move around. I was wondering if they would be big enough to put some of the dwarf peas into.

In the 'garage garden', the currants are looking good, it will be interesting to see if they are left alone, or if anyone has the nerve to steal them. I've put the yacon out now, it seems to me there is a lot of growing to be done before it reaches the 5ft mark, but hopefully it will do well. There are a few parsnips and beetroot coming in between the marker radishes, and the carnations I put in at the front look well. The follow on broad beans seem to have established as well, the rain certainly helped there. My globe artichokes have put on a lot of leaf, but although all the books talk about them producing offsets, mine seem reluctant to do so, there's still only one growing point to each plant. My sage bush, which I intended to get rid of this year because it was looking a bit tired, is now coming into flower, so it can have a reprieve for now. I've got a couple of replacement cutting rooted, so I might take the opportunity to resite it.

I'm dithering over whether to plant out the surviving lavender seedlings in their hedge positions, or to leave them in the pots a bit longer. After the success of germinating so many, and giving most away, disaster struck in the form of Daniel a few weeks ago. I had put some of them under the BBQ for a bit of protection, and he didn't think to move them when he lit it. Anyone want some lavender with their burger?

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