Growbag Blog

We’re slugging it out with garden pests

Middle sister Laura kicks off:


So, we know sowing seeds immeasurably improves your sense of well-being but we now need to consider the dark forces that can descend as you sleep and rob you of all this self satisfaction in a few strategic rasps their radulas.
I am referring of course to slugs.
There are many bizarre substances said to deter them: eggshell  coffee grounds, beer traps, wool ..(and no doubt the eye of newt and toe of frog) They are said to be averse to copper so I have tried surrounding particularly sensitive shoots such as emerging clematis with copper rings.

My friend Louise was so exercised by slugs eating her seedlings that her husband Rob constructed a special seed bench on copper legs, confirming my hunch that behind every successful lady gardener there is an obliging man. You’ll spot the copper tape around the seedling pots, a case, Louise concedes, of taking prunes with her Allbran, but her message to you is not to bother – the copper tape is expensive and peels off – corroborated by sister Elaine.

The work of a decent husband - Louise's seedlings protected by a copper frame bench
The work of a decent husband – Louise’s seedlings protected by a copper frame bench

Truthfully, (and I am now whispering) when push comes to shove I will resort to just the tiniest sprinkle of slug pellets, please don’t tell Monty Don.

Living on a farm we are also plagued by mice and voles who seem to think

Laura's sweet peas in suspense - safe from mouse attack
Laura’s sweet peas in suspense – safe from mouse attack

our glasshouse and polytunnel have been provided to give them cosy winter quarters, and  a tasty supply of pulses for their winter fodder. Seriously the only way I can germinate and grow on sweet peas is to suspend them from the ceiling with binder twine. I am growing three varieties this year; Fig and Ice, Albutt Blue, and a new introduction Lathyrus belinensis which is romping away in a very promising fashion, according to the packet it has a red and a yellow flower and an unusual coconut scent – will keep you posted.
Now rabbits are a different matter as, being country folk, we have a pack of highly trained secret weapons which can be deployed as and when necessary. It has to be a very brave rabbit to wander onto our patch.

Laura's ultimate pest control - the vermin posse at Furtherfield
Laura’s ultimate pest control – the vermin posse at Furtherfield

I am struck however by how every garden has its own particular set of vermin issues, a friend of ours who gardens in the rather posh Surrey Hills had a flock of (also rather posh) ring necked parakeets descend on his precious homegrown sweet corn and strip the cobs bare in a matter of hours. Even the gentle doyenne of gardening Beth Chatto writes about having to concrete the

beth-chattobanks of her stream to stop an infestation of the now rare and endangered water vole (I do hope this was pre the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act or she may still get a visit from the boys in blue…)   I know that Elaine, gardening on chalk at the foot of the South Downs in Eastbourne has her work cut out to keep a particular mollusc at bay…..

2 replies on “We’re slugging it out with garden pests”

We’d occassionally get a visit from our neighbours wild rabbits that plaqued their garden forcing them to have rabbit fencing around borders and veggie plots. We kept them at bay with some homorne warfare. If you’re brave enough to collect urine and sprinkle it on the boundaries to your garden and on any rabbit latrines that are on your patch the rabbits soon get the message and leave well alone.

wow yes indeed Phil – that would work. I’m not sure how much experience my sisters have of collecting urine for garden pest control, we’ve never discussed but I’ll see if they’re up for a doing a demo pic for the next blog. Thanks for the tip – free and environmentally sound!

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