Category Archives: Pests

Lolly Rosso

I’ve had some old lolly bottles kicking around at work for some time, waiting for a chance to reuse them in the garden. I was initially thinking cloches for little seedlings but I saw a YouTube video on Facebook of some guy’s hanging garden, made of  waste water bottles and was inspired to do some planting in them.

I was thinking of doing something like the hanging system in the link above but don’t really have anywhere stable enough outside to erect it, so I had to rethink.

I decided to keep the principle of turning plastic bottles into pots for salad leaf and set to work with a stanley knife.

I first knocked some holes in the lids with a hammer and nail. This was tricky, as the plastic lid was very brittle and the holes became cracks. If I had a drill, it would have been very useful at this point! I then turned the bottles upside down (lid down) and cut D-shaped windows in each side with the stanley knife.

I filled the bottles about half full,  to two inches below the bottom of the D-shaped windows, with home made compost and vermiculite. I then sowed some rocket and baby leaf salad mix in them.

Three of the bottle planters are used like normal pots and stand on my table in the garden. I had a bit of wire kicking about in my tool box, so I made a handle for the forth planter, making it an individual hanging version, which can hang on the trampoline frame.

Finally, to protect the roots of the salad from sunlight, I painted the bottom half of the bottles with some blue tile paint that I had kicking around in the shed.

With the remaining plastic above the soil level acting like a mini greenhouse,  the seeds germinated really quickly and all four of the planters are already getting full of little seedlings.

Slimy Assailants

I have a bit of a challenge on my veggie plot, in that it’s very wet down that end of the garden and the plot itself is immediately followed by an area of untamed madness, which I like to call ‘where the wild things are’.

The ground is quite clayey and although nutrient rich and great for holding water, it has the tendency to bake hard and crack in prolonged dry spells. So, I leave any unused areas to the weeds, until I need them, which keeps the ground as moist and manageable as possible, without actually managing it.

So, back to the challenge! Which is that ‘where the wild things are’ appears to be the capital city of slugville and my unmanaged areas are little slug hostels, along the highway to seedling heaven. Anything that I sow straight into the ground is immediately (at least once darkness falls) pounced on by tens of the slimey little blighters, as is any fruit that isn’t picked the moment it ripens.

I’ve spend quite some time researching alternatives to chemical slug pellets and the methods that seemed to have most support were crushed egg shells, coffee grounds and pine needles. Having decided to sow some rocket straight into a section of my plot furthest away from slugsville, I returned from holiday to find the seedlings coming along nicely. Other than those, that is, which had been yummed up by something slimy!

So, my war began. My first offensive manoeuvre was to source a couple of carrier bags of egg shells from the kind ladies on the breakfast bar at work. I soaked them in Milton overnight, to give them a proper wash, remove any odour and kill any bacteria. Next day I rinsed them and crushed them all up, before making a thick (4cm) line of them all around my seedlings. Next morning, another one had gone…

So, back to work I trotted and asked the nice ladies on the breakfast bar for some coffee grounds. Bless them, they obliged and back home I trotted with a big pot’s worth and a new layer of slug repellent was laid next to the egg shells that evening. Next morning, two more seedlings down…

Aaargh… what now? Back to t’interweb, who’s infinite wisdom told me to mulch with pine needles. I don’t have a Pine in my garden but I do have a Yew and decided that it’s needles were pretty spikey. They pierced my skin, so surely they would be sharp enough to bother a slug’s tender heel? Did they heck as like! Next morning, still more seedlings down to the enemy.

By now, the plot was looking a little comedy, to be honest (see below)

You may notice a rather odd looking contraption in the shot above, which looks like a bean tin with a slice of cucumber on it. Well, that’s what it is. Not a gem of the omniscient world wide web, this time. No, I decided to believe a circular email. Not something I normally do, to be honest but come on, I was desperate!! A circular, extolling the many benefits of the humble cucumber and I let it fool me into believing that it could even win me the war. Put a slice of cucumber on an aluminium pie dish or can, it said, and the slugs and snails will flee.

Next morning, 2 more gone…

So, today I gave in and put some slug pellets down! Inside the three bands of ‘repellent’, though, so I reckon if they are going to be that determined, there’s not much else I can do. I’ve also covered them with my home made poly tunnel, so the birds can’t get at them when they desist.

If anyone is reading this and has a non-chemical, REALISTIC, slug repellent recipe, please let me know! I know the one about beer and might try it but I’d rather not kill them if I don’t have to (and, of course, I’d rather drink my beer than give it to them; the little buggers are already eating my rocket, broccoli and pumpkins!)