June 13

Slugs and Snails – 6 things to do to try and beat them

Walking along the sea front this morning I saw this (see picture to the left). It is wild Sea Beet, which you can eat, but look at all those snails having their breakfast.

In fact every single plant along the front looked like this and there are quite a few plants. They grow in the small crack between the pavement and wall and were covered in snails. In this picture they all look like a particular type with their whitish shells and dark spiral line. My money is on these being Striped Snails but I have been known to be wrong before. They are not the same type as the ones I have on my allotment which are the regular brown common garden snail but this wet spring has meant that I have lots of them and as I plant out all my veg, there is a very high possibility that a bit of it will be eaten.

I don’t use any type of chemical to stop the slugs and snails, not even the organic slug pellets, so here is a list of things that you can try to prevent heart break when you discover that all your lovely little carrot seedlings have been eaten away in one night.

  1. Watch the weather forecast and only plant out when there is a run of days that are not wet. Planting out when you have a few days of rain is asking for it. Below is the forecast for the next few days and it is dry enough to plant out. Even on the day when there is a rain drop, the likelihood of rain is 13% so it is fairly safe.
Perfect planting out weather.
  1. When planting out your plants, water the hole or row that you are planting into when you put the plant in but before you backfill with the soil.

Here is my Romanesco courgette being watered in. Once the soil has been put back, it doesn’t look as if I have watered it at all. There are two benefits to doing this. One, the compost and roots have the same moisture level as the soil and this encourages the roots to move out and search for the water going down rather than towards the surface. Secondly, the top soil is not damp and therefore does not attract slugs and snails that love a bit of moisture.

Obviously, when I water the plant when it next needs it I will water the surface of the soil but I will use about half a watering can in one go which will soak down and the plant will be a bit bigger and should therefore shrug off a bit of snail attention.

2. However, I do provide a bit of protection for my new plantings.

Sometimes I use copper rings which are supposed to keep slugs and snails off new plantings because it provides some sort of electrical shock when they travel over it. I don’t know if that is true but look at my dahlia shoots with not a bite in sight despite all this rain.

There are other things that you can use to provide a barrier between your plants and things that eat them. A few of my favourites are plastic bottles with the bottoms cut off acting as small green houses. It is just a bit harder for a slug or snail to get in, but not impossible, and it has been known for me to trap a slug or snail in there which then completely eats the plant.

I also use fleece to cover one or two blocks of planting, in particular lettuce, brassicas and onions as can be seen here.

3. After all of this, I then look at the beds surrounding the new plantings. Are they hiding places for the dreaded creatures? Well, in this case yes they are. If beds around have weeds on them, plastic coverings or piles of manure that haven’t been spread yet then slug and snail heaven resides all around. It’s not just weeds – rhubarb is a great hiding place.

On the bed above the planting I had black plastic and bricks and when I removed all of this to let everything dry out, I removed 173 slugs and snails. They were everywhere as was a slow worm but he moved too quickly, go figure, for me to get a photo.

So, I have weeded both beds, removed the black plastic and bricks and put the wood in its correct position. This should all reduce the places where they can hide. I collected all the slugs and snails up that I could find and dealt with them in my own way. You can place them in your compost bin or somewhere which isn’t on your plot (not your neighbour’s plot though!) but beware that research has shown that snails are homing creatures.

4. I go on hunts for slugs and snails in damp and wet weather. I know where they hide on my plot and which plants will have quite a few in them. I used to have a wonderful hedge of lavender near one of my beds. During a wetter than usual year I couldn’t get any seedlings to survive in the beds nearby even when I had been through and picked all of the slugs and snails out. In the end I had to dig them up and when I did I found hundreds that I hadn’t seen. Lesson learnt! So, learn where the hiding places are on your plot.

5. I sow extra seedlings of everything that I plant out and usually pot them on and keep them until I am sure everything has survived. If things are eaten, I plant new ones out having done a thorough search for where slugs and snails are hiding. Bigger plants are less susceptible to being eaten so they may survive in exactly the same place as the ones that were eaten.

6. There are other things that people swear by such as crushed egg shells, unwashed wool that you sometimes get as packaging, beer traps but all the research suggests that nothing really works. You can also buy nematodes that you water into the soil. This will be an added expense and might be worth it if you are a professional grower. You can encourage frogs and toads by having a pond, offer shelter for slow worms, all of which I have in order to try and provide a balance for nature. However, you need to find the solutions that have some results for you and your plot. They may not be the same as mine but we can all limit the amount of damage done by these pests that the RHS say they get the most questions about.

August 9

Six reasons to take leaves off fruit and veg

Phew, it is hot. Again! And absolutely no rain in these parts for all of July and now 9 days into August. I don’t water my garden and it is yellow (the grass) and droopy (the plants) and I may have some losses this winter but if they can’t survive this weather, I can’t really grow them as this will not be the last time we have this heat and drought.

The veg plots, however, I do water – you have to grow food if you have planted it. I watched Charles Dowding’s film about taking leaves off plants and thought how useful it was.

To summarise, here are the six reasons for removing leaves:

  1. To harvest. This happens with plants like lettuce, kale and spinach where the leaves are the harvest that we are after. Taking some off each plant and leaving the growing leaves – those at the heart of the plant – is a sustainable way to harvest and means the plant keeps on growing, producing more leaves for you.
  2. To remove dead and dying leaves. These are slug fodder and so removing these helps keep the growing area free of slugs and snails meaning less damage to your veg.
  3. To allow the sun to get to the fruit. This is particularly useful for fruit that needs the sun to ripen such as melons, squash and tomatoes.
  4. Allow for better air circulation. Tomato plants can get very leafy and then trap moisture around the leaves and then get blight, a disease carried in the air at certain humidity and temperatures. One way to reduce this is to reduce the number of leaves and this ca be done by taking away the bottom ones up to the truss that is ripening. They look at bit bare at the bottom with all the leaves at the top but those are the growing one. I do this for cucumbers as well.
  5. Reduced leaves around the root area allows for easier watering. As the leaves are not present to provide shading and keep the moisture in the soil, good mulching is required.
  6. It allows you to observe your plants and interact with them. It reveals the weeds (!) and means that you can pull them out, reducing competition for resources and preventing them seeding. When I pulled the lower leaves away on my cabbages, which are under fleece, I realised that they were underwatered and so did something about it.

I am just waiting for the melons to ripen now. How about you?

January 2

Six on Saturday – 02/01/21

This is my second Six on Saturday hosted by The Propagator, the first one for 2021 and there are certainly things I will not miss  from last year. However, what this time has meant is that I have had much more time in the garden and on the allotments and this has been to their and our benefit. So, here are my six for this week all based on new year resolutions linked to the garden and allotments.

My first resolution is to be more organised. I realised the other day that my blog is littered with phrases such as I don’t know which variety they are, I didn’t label them or I have forgotten what they are.’  I have used Access and so now I can type in a  month and up will pop all the seeds I need to sow that month.  I have then created, on paper for the moment!, a bed plan that is month by month so that I don’t have any spare beds hanging around empty at any point during the year. Last year I thought I didn’t have enough space but with 2 plots and a large garden that is ridiculous. These two things need integrating but that was beyond me at the end of December.

In order to support resolution number 1, I have bought some very fancy labels – metal hooks which you stick in the ground and slate labels that you hang from them.  This was a present to myself and they will be used specifically for veg or flowers that I want to collect seed from.  Even if the writing wears off, I will at least know which plants to collect seed from. All I need now is a marker to write on the slate – note to self! The whole system could come crashing down for want of such marker.

I will make hot compost this year, before July.  At present I am not building the heap big enough and do not have enough greenery and manure in it.  This will be remedied in January’s pile. (You can see November and December’s attempts but they are not pretty!) I have agreed to create a pile each month to see what happens. I am learning a LOT. What I am finding is that it is far more work in comparison with the way I normally make compost. The videos I have watched about it all have volunteers on training and they build and turn the pile. We hold a sort of allotment school on the plots to help new members and I am one of the people that helps to run it so that has given me an idea 😉

We so rarely have heavy frosts on the south coast but have done so for the last 2 days with more to come. These are my new strawberries – Malwina – a late type, but they have an absolutely delicious taste. I bought my first lot a year ago because the catalogue said that the taste was exceptional but they were too dark red for supermarkets and had a white line just underneath the leaves which doesn’t turn red. Why wouldn’t you try them? Anyway they are so good I have ordered more along with some hanging baskets. I will pot them up into the baskets and then at the end of January/start of February hang them in the polytunnel to force them and try and get some a little earlier.



The Bergenia are flowering on the wildlife plot and look fantastic. I am not sure what variety they are (I didn’t plant these before you say anything!) but they are a welcome sight especially for the queen bumble bees which fly around when the sun is out.  I took over the wildlife plot in September 20 and decided to list everything that flowers, fruits and seeds on the plot each month and then aim to increase the numbers of each in the years thereafter as we have lots of beekeepers on site.  We have three things flowering this month, the Bergenia, Jasminum nudiflorum and a Viburnum. We can surely do more than that next year; I am thinking of Winter Honeysuckle, Christmas Box and pansies which can also be eaten in salads.



And finally, with no resolution attached to it is the orchid in my bathroom which has a very long stem of flowers this winter. I have learnt: feed it all spring and summer and it will flower all winter for you. Beautiful.

Happy New Year everyone and do you have any garden resolutions?