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Snails…

..

Some may call the mollusc one of the greatest pests known to mankind the plant world. I’ll give them one thing…. they’re not the prettiest looking fellas on the planet.

Famed for eating anything thats green leafed, the damage they cause can often be confused with that of bird damage. The difference is birds will eat through the veins of the leaf where the snails mouth eating parts will not allow them eat anything greater than just the leaf matter. ie the damage they cause is considered interveinal only.

For controlling snails once must start at the very start and that is with good garden hygiene; ie. a good cleaning, pruning and removal of debris regularly from around plants. There is also the use of ‘slug pellets which burns the belly of the mollusc when they move across it. Personally I like to pick them up and throw them into the hens.

What I find facinating is the varied and so many methods of controlling snails I have heard on my travels…. from copper wire placed in a loop around the base of the plant to a cup of beer placed near, which I personally find an awful waste 😉

How do you do it….?

what is eating my plant…

not what... but who?

not what... but who?

I was out near The Curragh recently with really nice clients having a coffee… on the way out the door… I spotted Dolly having a go at the newest vegetarian options menu 😆

Humour aside, last year of course my cabbage plants had an absolute savaging by the insect world. Not being the biggest chemical fan in the world that I am… I inspected and it was pretty easy to see why the ‘law of diminishing returns’ had taken an entirely new meaning. Without getting into the entire lengthy discussion of insects and their habits…. for the moment I shall narrow amage of leave down to two types.

The first is by insects… [pauses] pests of plants – whose  mouth eating parts will only alow them to eat in between the veins of the plants leaves… the second type is bird damage who will eat through any part of the leaf including the vein.

operophtera brumata

operophtera brumata

In this case it is plain to see the Winter Moth Caterpillar [operophtera brumata] having an absolute feast.

To control these guys the answers are [excluding chemical warefare] pretty pre-historic. Assuming you do wish to end their life, it is by hand that is constantly recommended by almost all books… ie. they are to be removed by hand. The only other method it seems is to cover the planted area with a horticultural fleece to prevent them getting to the plant.

Whatever you do, whatever you choose to grow – remember not to get stressed and enjoy 🙂

weed, weeding and more weeds

I always think of my sins when I weed.  They grow apace in the same way and are harder still to get rid of – Helena Rutherfurd Ely, A Woman’s Hardy Garden, 1903

weed free gardens

weed free gardens

Who wants them? What should we do about them? A weed by definition is deemed to be a plant growing in a place where it is not wanted. We tend to know them better as a pain in the rear (and no I am not talking about my mother in law) and sometimes to a point were our nerve endings would rather see cobble-lock city come to our town via frustration avenue! I will tell you, it is easier than you think to solve all of your problems.  You need no more to rush to the chemist to buy your bottle of Doctor Peters super magic hair restore tonic.

Weeds are generally categorised twice. So you either have broad leaf or narrow leaf and perennial (completes it life cycle over several years) or annual weeds.

The perennial and broad leaf weeds that we detest more are the ones we know the best.  Into this category fall docks, thistles, dandelion, buttercup etc. They are generally deep- rooted, low growing and stubborn. In this situation hoeing will not increase the aesthetic value of your house, just make your journey to the institution a little bit more sedated. Usually found in poor soiled lawns, ditches and scrubland.

We can in fact only define a weed, mutatis mutandis, in terms of the well-known definition of dirt – as matter out of place.  What we call a weed is in fact merely a plant growing where we do not want it.  ~E.J. Salisbury, The Living Garden, 1935

weed free gardening?

weed free gardening?

The problem is not to control them in the ditches or driveways but to control them when amongst our grasses (without chemical use). The growing point (lowest central budding point) is below or similar to that of grass and so the mower tends not to eliminate it by cutting. A semi selective translocated herbicide applied via calibrated sprayer is your only man, in my opinion. This is a chemical where the molecular make up will not allow it stick to the thin narrow grass leaves. As it forms a distortion in the growth cells of the weed, a sort of myxamitosis for plants, the unnecessary green pest grows itself into oblivion without affecting the lawn. The temperature for grass growth is approximately twelve degrees Celsius, so below this point the chemical will not take effect. Please note that your lawn should be established, ensure that your dilution rates are suited to that of your knapsack sprayer and use a cowl or hood to avoid wind-drift.

beauty...

with age comes beauty...

Annual weeds are generally shallow rooting and most commonly regarded as the mite who got into my (flower) bed without my permission. Examples include cleavers, willowherb, chickweed etc. Although their leaves are not slim-line in shape, they are easier to control than their better know more stubborn brethren. They are rarely found in lawns and when found, mainly in flower-beds, they are better pulled by hand. More eco-friendly methods such as a good planting plan with select areas of ground cover plants, some regular maintenance and bark mulch will normally help to reduce this problem. Spraying can be used in larger more developed areas but you should clear away from the base of the plants and again use a cowl to avoid chemical particles hitting the plants you do want to keep in perfect shape.

Crabgrass can grow on bowling balls in airless rooms, and there is no known way to kill it that does not involve nuclear weapons.  ~Dave Barry

what’s eating my plants

I couldn’t believe it when I looked outside and saw, literally every cabbage plant, stripped. What is left over,  probably hasn’t got long left.

This little git is the catterpillar and will eventually become a butterfly – as I’m sure you already know. But how, domestically and non chemically do I deal with the little insect.

The only solution is to pick them off and cover with a horticultural fleece to prevent them returning to their f-l-avoured leaf. I’d better get started on my 100 plants, while I have some left!

Apart from the obvious signs one will know if it is catterpillar [in this case] because they cannot eat the large veins of the plant as its mouth parts are not big enough. That said if the catterpillars are not there be careful, not to confuse the damage with what could be that of birds… you’ll know this because the bites [holes] are not interveinal [though the veins] as their mouth parts can eat through any part of the leaf.