Thursday, 25 September 2014

...slug collars and a stir fry bed

Day 4 of the Waste Less Live More Week is Grow It. Kind of an easy challenge for me as a garden addict who grows all our veg. I love gardening. It has been a massive part of my life for all of my life and in truth I would not like to be without it.

But I thought I would try something new for the challenge and also pass on one of my current garden experiments aimed at reducing everyone's favourite nemeses the slug and snail.

One of the things I have tried to develop over the last few years are ways of keeping the vegetable harvest going over the winter.  So here is this year's new idea to help with the aim and also to make it easy to pick food when it is cold, wet and dark.  The stir fry bed has been planted up so that if you harvest some off each plant there should be a selection of stir fry leaves about once a week.  Plus it makes it easy for someone else to pick stuff rather than me being the only one who knows which plants are ready to be picked.  Might work, might not but it is fun trying these things!!  

I am going to make a number of these patches so that when one is exhausted another will be ready.  They will be cloched over the winter and will keep producing pretty much all season, although they will slow down when it is very cold. I achieve this winter gardening magic through careful sowing times, good protection and choice of plant. Plants are multi sown in 7cm modules, thinned to about 4 plants per module and planted out when ready.  This year my beds have a selection of the following plants (*= one you can see in the photo)...

Mustard, Greens in Snow* and Red Frills 
Mizuna Greens*
Pak Choi, Green* and Red F1
Komatsuna, green and red
Perpetual Spinach
Spinach Red Cardinal

If you want to know more about winter growing by all means ask questions and I will help where I can but most of my knowledge comes from two book which I thoroughly recommend - Oriental Vegetables by Joy Larkom and Winter Vegetables by Charles Dowding. 

The second part of todays post is about how to make sure you get the benefit of all your growing fun rather than it just being slug fodder.  I have been trialling, for about the last year, various slug collars.  As a seriously organic gardener I don't use pellets and I have to admit to not being the biggest fan of traps (they are gross and I get sad when ground beetles go in them). So I am always looking for ways to protect new plants from their evil little mouths.

I am trialling two basic types as you can see below, one type with copper, one with pointy bits.  Obviously using the copper means buying copper tape which is quite pricey but I am delighted to report much of my copper tape is 5 years old and has been reused many times now.

Without a doubt the most effective are the downpipe sections with copper tape on but for a good free option you cannot beat a pop or milk bottle cut up. They really don't like going over those pointy bits!

If you make any slug and snail defences I would love to hear from you how sucessful they have been and  what works best for you.

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