Archive for the Category ◊ Pests, Weeds and Diseases ◊

• Tuesday, July 07th, 2009

With the return of the rain this week many of us will be faced with the problem of slug control, which can be difficult to handle on a large scale.

So it’s no surprise that someone would consider the option of eating them to make good use of this easy supply of salad-munching beast. And after all if snails can be considered tasty in the rest of Europe why not try slugs which are from the same gastropod family?

This is what keen gardener and professional chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recently decided to try in his British River Cottage TV programme.

The first option was to boil the slugs but as the pot was getting increasingly slimy it required a lot of time before they were able to taste them. And the raw cooked product tasted bitter, hard and unpromising.

The second attempt consisted in gutting the cooked slugs to remove the bitter elements of the slug. They were left with thin strips of slug which they were hoping to complement nicely with a strong spicy sauce. However Hugh’s final opinion was that the dish would be better as just the sauce without the slugs!

So if you cannot eat them, what can you do to keep slugs under control in your garden?

• Monday, May 25th, 2009

If like me you enjoy growing lilies of all colours as well as fritillarias, then you may have noticed that the leaves often are eaten up by an orange insect.

The culprit in question is called the Lily Beetle. Only this morning I spotted a couple of lily beetles simply basking in the sun on the top leaves of my Stargazer pink lilies.

Lily Beetle

Lily Beetle

Don’t be seduced by its good looks: this is a real pest as it can devour everything on your beautiful lilies. I prefer to deal with them the organic way so I have only found two options so far.

The friendly way: I collect the beetles and release them in the green bin just before collection – good luck lily beetle!

The drastic way: I simply squash them between my fingers (tinged orange!) or on the garden path.

Beware of the lily beetle, this clever insect likes to hide away or drop on the floor and play dead as soon as it notices danger. You may also notice that they make a squeeky little noise when they feel danger.

You will also have to remove any slime covered brown little grubs which hang off the leaves as these are young lily beetles.

My flower borders have benefited from the the recent rain and sun which we have had and hopefully I should see my lilies in blossom soon.

• Monday, May 11th, 2009

A friend of mine recently used a weed and feed product on her lawn and she was telling me that it had left some black burnt marks all over her lawn.

Lawn weed and feed products are often available as powder or pellets from many garden centers, DIY shops, and you can even find cheaper basic versions in the supermarkets.

If you don’t follow the instructions precisely you may end up like my friend with a lawn which not only did not benefit from the treatment but was in fact damaged by the powder. The key thing with this type of product is watering and this is why it is usually recommended to apply the weed and feed pellets just before rain is forecast.

What do you do if your lawn has been damaged by weed and feed?

Unfortunately the manufacturers often don’t include tips on the box on how to improve your lawn when things go wrong. And yet this happens to many of us – especially when the rain fails to show!

In my experience the best thing that you can do is to water your lawn generously. This will allow you to dilute the effect of the weed killer and fertilizer and help your lawn recover from the chemical stress. After a while your lawn will recover and grow back to its former glory.

I didn’t have any further tips to provide to my friend on this occasion but if you know how to make it better, please leave a comment!

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