Pesky Pests…

Well, following the hose pipe ban, here in the UK we have now had the wettest April on record so it appears the weather can’t make up it’s mind.  In all honesty, it doesn’t really bother me, I love how lush and green everything is looking at the moment and it does make trying to keep the vegetable patch watered much easier. On the down side, I haven’t been out much, the grass is now ridiculously long, and the slugs are having a party, munching all my seedlings.

I have just watered my second load of slug nematodes into the garden.

In case you haven’t heard of them, nematodes are tiny organisms (so small they are invisible to the eye) which are harmless to humans or wildlife, other than the insects that they are intended to kill.  You can get a number of ‘varieties’ eg for slugs, ants, and leatherjacks, etc; they arrive in a sealed container, are stored in the fridge and when needed diluted with water and watered into the garden.

This is my second of a series of 3 packs (timed for delivery at regular intervals), but I was disappointed to see pretty much all my early seedlings have been eaten – carrots, radish, beetroot, turnip and pak choi, all gone.  They had all germinated and were on their way last time I looked (although very small) but I think the earlier slug nematodes didn’t do too well, they need constant moisture and temperatures above 5 degrees C to survive, the early persistent dry weather and hose pipe ban made keeping the garden damp very difficult.

The insane number of rabbits are also causing a few problems, cute though they are, they’ve yet again managed to get through our attempts to rabbit-proof the garden and are prone to eating my flower seedlings as well as the grass.  Luckily they can’t get through the fencing we placed around the vegetable patch, I’d be heartbroken if they did.

As well as the munched seedlings, none of my courgettes have germinated, the mice have repeatedly stolen the planted peas and of 12 different types of squash started, only 2 are actually growing.  Ants have invaded every single one of my large containers as well as many of the raised beds.  I hate ants.  I very nearly ordered a starter pack of mixed vegetable seedlings (at a reasonable cost) but no, I refuse to admit defeat, today I put my wet weather gear on, got out there and re-sowed many of the planned plants.  I WILL have homegrown vegetables this year!

I bought soil from my local garden shop, ready for potting up the tomatoes and for (finally) getting the seed potatoes in.

These have been planted, one tuber each, in my small growing sacks (14 litre), with about 2 inches of soil (John Innes No 3) under each potato, they have then been covered in more soil, with just the chitted tips showing and popped directly outside to get going.  I’ll keep adding soil as they grow, leaving just the top leaved uncovered until the bag is full and if we’re due any cold nights I’ll cover the bags in a cloche or bring them into the greenhouse.

I love my local garden shop, it’s a small family run business, just around the corner, and I was excited to see they had some courgette plants for sale – hurrah! – they are just labeled ‘courgettes’ so I’ve no idea what variety or colour, but they are now snug in one of the large containers, protected by a cloche and it’s one less plant to worry about starting again from seed.


5 thoughts on “Pesky Pests…

    • They shouldn’t, they don’t damage the plant roots, but the ants ‘farm’ aphids as they feed on the sweet liquid, which the aphids produce so you can often see them running up and down to the tip of plants which end up crowded with the green/blackfly they are farming; I think by doing this they keep other ‘good’ insects away that also feed on aphids such as ladybirds. The problem we have is our garden was very neglected when we moved here and we have literally hundreds of nests, including many red ants wich produce quite a nasty bite. I have just bought loads of ant ‘nematodes’ to apply, they don’t kill the ants but they stop them from being able to nest (in theory), it will be interesting to see of I can get my pots ant free this year! Beth

  1. Hi Beth- sorry to hear your sowings have been devoured by the slugs and snails. My lettuces and carrots have been munched too! So its gloves off and lots of slug pellets- I’m using the bio friendly one but have had to use it regularly as it seems to disappear after lots of rain! I too are resorting to purchase some of my plants but am trying to buy off individuals rather than the garden centres!

    • Hi Nikki, it’s soooooo annoying isn’t it? the snail/slug munching that is. I find it quite disheartening when you’ve planted seeds, watched them get started with excitement then the bloomin’ slugs munch the lot in a day. I’ve used bio friendly slug pellets before, maybe I should use those as well as nematodes, and even add a beer trap. Good luck with your slug problem. Bethx

  2. Hi Beth sorry to hear your seedlings have been munched. My carrots and lettuces have been munched too and so its gloves off time! I have resorted to the bio friendly slug pellets which seem to need often reapplication as they tend to disappear when there has been a lot of rain. I also have been purchasing some of my plants this year and like you try to use small businesses or individuals rather than the garden centres if possible!

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