Gardening: Slugs and snails and nematode talesBy Linda Fort
September 09, 2011
September is a good time to look back over the gardening season and assess successes and failures.
In the vegetable garden, the flops easily outweigh the triumphs, despite the optimistic application of nematodes to combat slugs.
This year’s French beans and courgettes were a disaster. The plants were eaten at ground level by snails.
I like to believe it was snails, rather than slugs, because of the nematode warfare that’s been waged, but I couldn’t swear to it.
Most of the runner bean plants were also nipped off before they had a chance to develop, but the four surviving specimens are producing a fantastic crop, so they can’t be classed as a complete disaster.
My home-grown tomato plants were a spindly failure and the bought ones which replaced them have so far produced only green tomatoes.
It is getting a bit late to expect more from these outdoor plants. So another flop.
All of these crops were successes last year as far as I remember, so I’m a bit nonplussed.
Another flop is my oriental irises.
These were carefully lifted, divided, cleaned up and replanted last year because they were flowering so unenthusiastically.
This year I had high hopes of a return to flowering and instead of getting a poorish show I got – nothing at all.
This seems an unjust punishment for doing the right thing, although I may have replanted them a little bit late.
If they don’t flower next year, I will dig them all up and buy some more.
Probably the biggest success has been my clump of alstroemeria in the front garden which has flowered all summer long.
Although not the most exciting colour, peachy yellow, they have a graceful beauty which makes them well worth their place.
Most admired has been the Rosa moyesii, especially now that it is splendidly covered in goblet-shaped rosehips.
A large dark red geranium, which I cart inside every winter and which flowers until Christmas and then starts again in May, is still in full bloom now.
It produces more flowering days than any other plant in the garden.
Two smart, dark red snapdragons – antirrhinums – bought this summer to augment my floral display have also proved a long-lasting success.
The lessons to be learnt from all this is really that vegetables need a lot of attention and even more protection from pests than I give them.
Next year I will redouble my efforts on the pest control front.
Surely, it must be possible to outwit something as primitive as a slug.