Archive for June 28th, 2012

Wolf Cultivator

I am a great fan of the Wolf multi-change tools, instead of trying to carry three or four different tools to the plot all with handles you carry one handle and a couple of heads.

The Wolf cultivator speeds up the process of breaking down the soil after forking the soil, probably by as much as half, it will even produce a tilth fit to sow into in no time at all.

The cultivator comes in three sizes, the two smaller ones have prongs, the largest has a small blade on the end of each prong, and is ideal for breaking up bigger lumps, and cutting weeds off in their prime.

You will probably say that Wolf tools are expensive, and that may be true, but they come with a lifetime guarantee, and the largest is around £25.99

I use the medium size cultivator straight after forking ground over, I find it good for tilling the soil to a depth of three inches, in doing so it will also pull those stringy weed roots to the surface, and the larger stones, which can be picked out, unlike a rake however you tend not to pull all the stones and large clumps of earth toward you.

The smallest of the cultivators is good for getting in between plants, to loosen weeds, and expose their roots to the sun, it can also be used as a hand tool with a shorter handle for flower beds.


Slugs ‘n Snails

There is nothing any can love about a slug or snail, they are the bane of the gardener, and the war against slugs has been waging since man started to culture plants.

Coming back off holiday we found that our runner bean shoots had fallen victim to these pests, we had omitted to put pellets where they would emerge.

So what exactly are you up against ?

Slugs are a gastropod and love moisture, during dry spells they have to find moist damp places to hide, they are mainly water, and secrete a mucus which can make them difficult for birds to pick up, the mucus can also be distasteful for birds.

Slugs are hermaphrodites, and as such can mate as a male of female, when mating is finished the one slug chews off the others penis to separate, in so doing that slug is then only able to mate as a female. The female can lay 30 eggs a few days after mating.

Believe it or not most slug species survive by eating leaves, fungus and rotting vegetable material, unfortunately in the UK, the majority of species prefer tender young greens !.

So how do we stop these pests ?

The easiest answer is to make the area around your plants as dry as possible, the ground will act like a dessicant and dry out the slug, common remedies are pellets, egg shells, sand, grit, and lately used coffee grindings from coffee shops, as well as the old fashioned approach of beer traps, ( if you’re male this can be the perfect excuse to get a few bottles in), salt, and going on a nighttime hunt, where you find them and send them to a soapy water end !.

Copper tape is also supposed to be good, especially for container grown plants, the best solution however is diatamaceous earth, which can be found on Amazon from around £6 for  100g

For a long term but somewhat expensive solution to the  problem, you could put gravel paths around all your vegetable beds, over time this will reduce the amount of eggs being laid in the plots, so reducing the slug population.

The most friendly way is remove lower leaves to reduce the amount of moisture in the soil around the plant.