Sunday, 1 February 2015

Seeds, growing, snails...

Photo: Kathy Cassidy

I hope you all enjoyed the Seedy Sunday event in Trumpington. Charlotte set up a stall and some of us popped in on the day to say hello and pick up some seeds. It got really busy at one point, with adults crowding around the tables, children doing crafts with seeds, twigs and pine cones, and people of all ages enjoying the delicious cakes and savoury bites sold by the WI institute. 

Growing and dealing with snails

Now we have our seeds, we are lining up pots and compost, perhaps with some help from young gardeners. For those without a heated greenhouse, it's all about placing pots on windowsills and perhaps a sunny corner in the conservatory. Towards late May, usually after the Chelsea Gardening Show, you can start planting outside - that's what programmes like Gardeners' World advise us to do every year. Of course if you have a polytunnel (and one is planned for the Empty Common Garden) it can be earlier... 

Whether it's May or before, there is one issue that is already on our mind: snails and slugs. They are a big nuisance and if you, like me, tried multiple ways unsuccessfully - beer, nut shells, grit, egg shells, pellets (not suitable for organic gardening though), an inverted melon with flesh scooped out (yes, it sounds crazy but somebody advised that) - you will know how frustrating it is. Personally there is nothing more effective than picking snails up and disposing of them, but you have to get out early in the morning to catch them at it. Another way I discovered recently is to combine pellets with plastic bird nets, I don't know why it works, but I managed to grow salad and rocket in the autumn and throughout the winter with very little damage to the leaves.

A spot of unusual recycling

At the Empty Common Garden we have come up with an alternative solution to protecting young plants, using recycled plastic bottles. Empty snail shells are also coming in handy - in this picture of our young mulberry bush - as a top for spiky sticks. 

If you have any recycling or snail tip, we would like to hear it. Please leave a comment or a link to your blog post on the subject. Thank you.

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