Stinging reply to the slug and snail menace

By Richard Wright

Friday, June 20, 2014

 

GARDENING

I’LL be delighted if an invitation to grasp the nettle bears fruit…

Anything that puts a sting in the tail of gastropods munching their way across the veg plots of the Island is good news to me.

Sue Voysey has a handy hint for keeping pests at bay — one that’s cheap and utilises another type of pest — one which I have, in spades.

A couple of weeks ago I appealed for ways of stopping snails and slugs without resorting to chemical control, which I try to avoid but which I have had to do this year because of the vast snail, sorry, scale, of the problem.

Sue says: "I had terrible trouble with mice eating my peas and beans while germinating in the ground so I gave up and tried them in the greenhouse, but only had success when I put stinging nettles picked fresh and laid on top of the trays.

"The mice didn’t like them — nor did the slugs and snails. I laid them with my runner beans and broad beans after planting them out and have had success.

"I have an abundance of stinging nettles. Most gardens have some, give them a try!"

I do have one or two, and I will. Many thanks, Sue.

Nettles make valuable compost, and, at the very least, they will add goodness to the ground.

They do lose their sting pretty quickly after wilting — and I guess it is that which deters slugs and snails, so we shall see...

John Lea recommends wool pellets.

"I have no trouble from slugs or snails since I have used them and there’s no danger to birds or other animals.

"My dahlias are flowering — untouched by any gastropod.

"I get my wool pellets from Dobies, not inexpensive but worth it for not having all your hard work destroyed."

Rooting out invaders

AN Island project is doing its best to push back non-native plant species.

As part of that, I’ve given a little bit of space every couple of weeks to Carol Flux, from Natural Enterprise, who highlights invasive plants which we have imported from abroad and which, allowed to go unchecked, can cause a lot of problems in our gardens and countryside.

Carol said: "Invasive, non-native, species are those that have been introduced by man which are having a detrimental impact on the economy, wildlife or habitats of Britain.

"Australian swamp stonecrop (Crassula Helmsii) is one such troublesome plant on the Island, particular in the Eastern Yar where it a menace to the RSPB.

"It is a perennial plant with yellowish-green leaves and solitary white or pale pink flowers.

"It grows in still or slow flowing water bodies up to three metres deep and is very easily spread, with the ability to grow from very small fragments. It forms dense mats, out-competing native species, and choking ponds and drainage ditches.

"This plant is best treated at the early stages of infestation. Delay will make the problem much worse in successive years. Chemical control of emergent material is the best option.

"We have produced downloadable factsheets which give advice on its identification and control."

l These can be found at www.naturalenter

prise.co.uk/pages/projects/73-plant-positive or for further details, contact Carol on 201563.

Plan to produce Stan’s Queen of Hearts plants

IT WAS lovely to see Stan Jackson the other day.

The veteran gardener popped in to the office from his Northwood home and the effort involved in travelling by bus from his Northwood home after being unwell just recently is much appreciated.

Stan is again cultivating the Queen of Hearts tomatoes he created and I plan to go into mass production next year with him to produce a large number of plants after the demand outstripped supply this year by quite a factor.

This year Stan’s ex-colleague, Eddie Grove, was kind enough both to give me seed and several plants, which I sold for a tidy profit for the Send a Cow charity.

Then, Stan’s niece, Heather Cobb, sent me a picture of a true Queen, which Stan’s sister grew outside on Merseyside last year.

Stan said: "Sometimes there have been photos which don’t look like a true Queen of Hearts, but a seedling.

"There is only one way to get a true Queen of Hearts tomato plant and if cross pollination occurs, then any tomato on the plant could not be 'true’."

Heather adds: "My uncle pollinates with a brush, as I expect many others do, but it only needs one insect to land on a truss having visited another type of tomato and it will alter its characteristics, even though others on the truss may be true Q of Hs.

"We would both be very interested to see any photos of Q of H tomatoes later in the season if at all possible."

l I’ll be very interested in reader feedback — and to see what my plant produces, although I’m sure Eddie will have taken great care.

Fruit and veg grown naturally

My appeal for places where a good selection of wholesome, largely organic veg is grown and can be bought bore some fruit.

While the produce at Quarr Abbey may not be certified as organic, because that process through the Soil Association is a long and tortuous one, the fruit and veg at Quarr is probably as good as.

Thanks to Mandy Williams for reminding me.

No clues as to where one of my mates can get the seeds of a Mexican plant, though…probably because last week I highlighted the wrong plant.

She wants not the Mexican Flame Bush but the Mexican Flame Vine — Senecio Confusus.

A most appropriate name!

Answers and gardening tips can always be sent to me at richryde@tiscali.co.uk or to Brannon House, 123 Pyle Street, Newport PO3O 1ST.

Open gardens aid charities

Eleven gardens open in Arreton on Sunday between 11am and 5pm to raise money for the local scouts and the Island couples’ counselling service, Relate.

There are several large gardens, no longer normally open to the public, including Arreton Manor (open noon to 4pm only — and no teas this year), The Old Vicarage and Haseley Manor along with some delightful cottage gardens.

There’s water features, a garden railway, plant sales and cream teas, plus free parking.

A programme to cover all the gardens can be bought at the village shop during opening hours or at any of the gardens, which will be signed on the day. Entry is £3.50 and children are free.

The No 8 bus and the Downs Breezer also stop in the village.

The Coastal Gardener, Gerry Price, tells me her open garden at Blue Haze in Beachfield Road at Bembridge, combined with that of her friend, Nick Inigo Peirce’s High Street garden, raised £400 for National Gardens’ Scheme charities.

In addition, friends and neighbours baked and the results of their efforts sold, well, like hot cakes, raising another £200-plus for Dementia UK to support Admiral Nurses on the Island.

Gerry said: "Our visitors made some lovely comments.

"These were among them: 'Tranquil, a beautiful restful place’, 'Beautiful flowers, love the metal sculptures against the organic forms of the plants, very peaceful. Inspirational space’, 'Better than Chelsea!’"

The garden opens again tomorrow (Saturday) between 10.30am and 4pm as part of the Festival of the Sea as a brilliant vantage point for viewing the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.

The cliff edge, less than 50 metres from the garden, is a spectacular vantage point.

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