This year has been a gardening year of two halves so far. The dry, warm weather of the first half, during the lockdown gave way to generally cooler, cloudier and wetter conditions. Accordingly, slugs and snails are back on my allotment with gusto! Those slimy molluscs have responded to the wet, in the only way they know how.
I think I’m guilty of being a little lax with slug prevention. Maybe I became lulled into a false sense of security, earlier in the year. In the greenhouse my cucumbers and sweet peppers have recently been under assault from a determined army of snails. So far my tomato’s are relatively unscathed.
There are many options if like me you use organically certified slug deterrent products.
A favourite choice of mine is flexi copper tape. Do make sure that slugs and snails are not trapped inside first! Copper rings are another option too. I’ve observed copper proving an impenetrable barrier to molluscs previously.
My current favourite protection of choice are the ‘Slug Gone’ pellets. Made out of 100% Sheep wool they are highly effective in pots and around plants in the soil. They also improve the soil as they biodegrade. Critically slugs are deterred by the impenetrable barrier they create. I just need to remember to buy some more and quickly!
An exciting recent development is a new RHS organic approved product, Ferrimax Slug Killer Pellets. Gone are the days when gardeners had to rely solely on beer traps for organic control.
August can bring with it some long, sultry humid days. These can be perfect for potato blight to strike. Keep a regular lookout for this destructive disease. Early signs are unsightly brown fungal patches appearing quickly on the foliage. In just a matter of days the whole plant becomes riddled and collapses. Cut off the stems at ground level if the disease strikes until you are ready to harvest. This will prevent the blight reaching the tubers.
Cabbage white caterpillars are a pest that is prevalent during late summer more than at any other time. Again checking the plants on every visit to the allotment is really important. Infestations can be dealt with quickly if they are spotted early. These voracious caterpillars can defoliate brassica plants within 24 hours if left alone. Look out too for those tell-tale clusters of green eggs on leaves and aim to destroy them before they hatch. It is also worth checking that your netting is doing its job and the wind hasn’t dislodged any hoops. This could allow entry points for the adult butterfly to lay more eggs. It is amazing how many flying days they seem to have.
A key task this month is to order your allium favourites for autumn-planting. The Japanese over-wintering onion ‘Senshyu Yellow’ is a very reliable onion that I’ve had great success with over the years. It is ideal for planting out directly on the allotment between September-early November.
Shallots and Garlic can also be planted out in autumn for overwintering. Shallot ‘Griselle’ is ideal for planting from October until mid December.
Garlic ‘Printanor’ is a French softneck type that can be planted during both Autumn and Spring, or both if you are really keen! Garlic bulbs can be planted in Autumn from late-September to the end of November.
Over wintered spring cabbage can be planted out into its final growing position later this month. They will need protection from those cabbage white butterflies.
If you never got round to sowing purple broccoli earlier this year, there is a get-out-of-jail plan. Broccoli ‘ Stromboli’ F1 with its attractive looking green florets can be sown in September and October for cropping next year.
In the greenhouse my tomatoes are later than normal to ripen due to the recent cloudy weather. Given some August sun, there is an exciting crop to look forward to. The cucumbers have enjoyed the conditions a little more and are cropping very well despite the snails.
A strength of allotments is the community spirit they foster with a unique sense of togetherness. This is helpful at this time of year with many people going away for break. By helping your allotment friends with watering duties, you will be able to call upon a reciprocal favour at some stage in the future. We are all in this wonderful pastime together and how good does it feel to be able to say that.
Make sure to check out the new Autumn Catalogue