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Talkback: Growing veg in containers - garden pests

Kate, it is pouring with rain in Bristol and I have just dashed out and lifted everything I have in pots with lush new growth onto the picnic table out of reach of the slugs and snails who will be roaming around tonight. Being a gardener means using all your wits if you want to defeat wild life on the look-out for a tasty meal. I too am hoping for help from the frogs, if the heron has left me any. He has been swooping down on my garden a lot in the last few weeks.


  • I also leave the ladybirds to gobble up all the greenfly and blackfly for me.

    Besides frogs I am also very lucky to always have slow worms in the garden to sort out the slugs for me. Snails seem to be my problem but the population can be kept down by going out at nights with a touch and picking them up and beer traps work well. I never knew that frogs ate vine weevil, thank you for that bit of information.

    I am growing Broccoli Tenderstem-Green in very large pots for the first time this year and they are well protected with nets to keep the Cabbage White butterflies off!

    Runner Beans, Broad Beans, Carrots, Parsnips, Raspberries and Strawberries are all doing well. My first batch of peas failed but not being one to give up and to learn from my mistakes the second batch is growing well. To make up for the lack of early peas the first early potatoes, Foremost, have produced a wonderful crop and are delicious with a knob of butter!

    At long last we had a down pour here in South Devon and the garden had a good soaking this afternoon, more rain is promised for this weekend.
  • We have had a lot of rain in Bristol and I have been busy picking up slugs and snails from the path and putting them in the hedge for the birds. The worms will be coming to the surface now which will be good news for the very hungry, newly fledged baby robin at the Botanic Garden. His parents were having trouble finding him any food and,even although it is full of worm material from our home made compost, the worms were few and far between in the veg. garden where I was planting beans. I eventually dug up one two inch one and took it to the youngster. That's as far as I can go in killing or, helping to kill, anything living.
  • I have grass snakes in my raised vegetable beds. They disturb the soil and seedlings and I don't like them. Has anyone any ideas on what to do?
  • Hooray! Gardener's after my own heart!

    No ladybird glut here yet (South Yorkshire), but I'm hoping.

    I've managed to defeat the slugs and snails so far this year by growing my salad leaves in pots in a wheelbarrow. This means I can quickly put them under cover too. My first lot this year were shredded by a hailstorm! Up to now I've just depended on huge sacrificial Hostas which grow stronger and bigger each year inspite of being 'laced' by slugs and snails. I thought water shortage was the cause of my stunted peas, but a thorough soaking the other day caused the soil to cave in showing a mole run underneath!

    I nearly weeded out the dandelions on the lawn, though I love the yellow flowers. But then I saw a pair of bullfinches feasting on the seedheads, so I've decided to leave them - or could I eat them too?

    I would love to be a successful veg gardener, but more than that I love the diversity of wildlife in my garden and the shop down the road which prevents our starvation.

    barbarav - i'm sorry you don't like your grass snakes. I'm actually really envious.
  • Help!- I have 5 big tubs/sacks of potatoes which were doing very well but have just seen lots of spots on leaves - ? blight. Taking no chances so have cut off all greenery and disposed of safely.Have lifted about 3lbs which will last me some time but can I safely leave the others in the tubs and if so how long? Also I have lots of broad bean plants which had plenty of flowers but so far not a bean in sight. Usually at this time I am eating them every day and giving them away! All advice gratefully received
  • Try essential oil sprays. I was given a book called The Fragrant Pharmacy and it has a gardens section. I made a family of Flea Beetles evacuate my flower bed by spraying them with a couple of drops of peppermint oil in 1 litre of water in a spray bottle!
    Green aphids were attacking my lettuces on the windowsill and were banished by my peppermint spray too. Ants, Cats and dogs hate it too if that helps. Oh and I have not had problems with them (yet) but Blackfly is repelled by Lavender essential oil. I do find the ladybirds help too and they don't seem to have been affected by the oils.
  • Peppermint oil in water spray sounds good. Something has been attacking my beans, eating the leaves but not touching the veins until the plant looks like a 'skeleton'. It's not slugs and snails because there is no slime trail at all, also they tend to eat the whole leaf over a few nights. I've been told it could be adult vine weevil, so it might be worth seeing if peppermint oil will work? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • i have found large bugs in my garden they are chafer beetles they lay there eggs they hatch into grubs which devistate lawns they like sandy soil
  • Happymarion - you are very dedicated!

    Row - I don't think adult vine weevils are a frog's favourite food, but they will eat them if nothing else is around. The blackbird likes picking through my pots to find the grubs, however.

    barbarav - I'm also jealous of your grass snakes. Can you sow your seeds elsewhere and transplant them to the raised beds when they're big enough to sustain being slithered over?

    Josephine from Wilts - it's a bit early for blight, but if it had infected the leaves then you were right to remove them. However, how the tubers are will depend on how quickly you cut off the haulms. If blight spread to the tubers, then it's curtains for your spuds. If not, you can leave them in the compost as long as it's dry. Any rain may wash blight spores into the compost and infect the spuds, so - if in doubt - get them out!

    Dan Martin - go on, leave the aphids be, what's the worst that can happen?!

    mervyn willetts - I have lots of chafer grubs in my garden too, and loads and loads of leatherjackets, the larvae of daddy long legs. The blackbird and robin love pecking through the borders to find them

  • I have a massive buddleja bush. The flowers are yellow balls and it is in full bloom. I have great pleasure watching the bumblebees, butterflies and other insects feeding on the pollen. This is the part of the garded I am leaving alone.Some insect I have never seen before.
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