All posts in Pests and problems

  • wpid-imag1289.jpgAphids and ants on raspberries
  • wpid-imag1273.jpgPlanted out tomatoes
  • wpid-imag1272.jpgBeans
  • wpid-imag1268.jpgDamaged beetroot leaves

Further planting and further pests

We’ve planted the beans out now, and put the tomatoes in a trough; they all seem to be fine.  However, our raspberries have been severely attacked by ants farming aphids under almost all the leaves, and especially around the clusters of fruit.  And our developing beetroots are having their leaves shredded by leaf-mining pests.

  • wpid-imag1260.jpgWeevil damage to pea seedlings
  • wpid-imag1261.jpgBee hotel
  • wpid-imag1262.jpgSweet peas shooting up
  • wpid-imag1263.jpgMiniature shallots

Weevils and bees

Nearly all of our pea plants have the distinctive pattern of weevil damage around the perimeter of their leaves.  This seems to slow down the development of the plants, as they are being attacked while they are quite small.  Meanwhile, the sweet peas are growing very fast.  It’s difficult to believe the small scattering of shallots can be bothered at all, as they seem to aspire to nothing but tiny green shoots on a martian landscape.

  • wpid-imag1188.jpgBean seeds
  • wpid-imag1190.jpgWeevil damage to pea seedlings
  • wpid-imag1191.jpgRocket, mustard, celeriac and augergine
  • wpid-imag1192.jpgSweetcorn seedlings

Further sowing

The soil in our vegetable plot is too hard to sow many seeds directly.  The continuous wet weather over the winter has compacted the soil into a thick crunchy surface, and the soil is already very clayey anyhow.  So we’re almost forced to sow many of our crops in pots to start with, before the challenge of the soil.

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Late potato disappointment; surprise squash decimation

In late August, we reused our patio containers to plant some summer Arron Pilot potatoes, which we might even be able to eat around Christmas.  While they seemed to be going strong for a while, the leaves recently began to go yellow, and the entire plants wilt.  Soon, it was apparent that all of the plants were in a pretty bad way, and now they are hanging over the sides of their containers without much hope.

Earlier in the year, we had another surprise vegetable join those we had actually planted.  Besides the lettuce that appeared, but was a bit too tough to eat, and a squash-like plant that has dominated the veg plot but has yet to bear a single fruit, we have also had what appears to be a gem squash appear.  Now though, the plant seems to have died, or to have been attacked by something, and the skeletons of leaves remain, as does the small, dense fruit.

Meanwhile, we have a few Autumn King 2 carrots that have developed from the two rows of seeds we planted towards the end of summer, perhaps trying to get a little too much from the soil.  We’ve put two very healthy rows of black kale at the end of the plot, where we have removed our courgettes.  But on the whole, the vegetable patch is beginning to look a little sparse.


Kale infestation

The kale is thriving, and pushing out big green curly leaves that look really healthy.  But there are quite a few holes appearing, and on closer inspection, the leaves are pretty thoroughly covered with tiny caterpillars and what must be the caterpillar eggs.

The white and yellow creatures are teeming throughout the underside of quite a number of the kale leaves.  There’s not much to do other than scrape the caterpillars away, remove as many eggs as we can find, and spray the leaves with a non-toxic insecticide.

Slug apocalypse

We’ve been fortunate enough to take a few days’ holiday this week.  It’s the first time we have had any real time away from the vegetable plot since we began the project, and of course we were a little worried that things might not do so well while we’re away.  While everything was pretty much as we left it when we got back (just a little bigger) we weren’t quite prepared for the amount of greenery that slugs and snails had managed to get through.  Just about everything on the vegetable patch had at least a nibble taken out of it, sometimes a lot worse.

As summers go, this one is quite a wash out, and it’s probably ideal weather for slugs and snails.  The soil around the vegetables is often fairly damp, as we have had sustained periods of rain.  We’re having to step up our defences against this pest if we’re to have any chance of eating our produce ourselves.

Last night we scattered some slug pellets across the veg plot, and this morning there was a scene like a slug version of Saving Private Ryan, with slugs and snails and thick trails of slime across almost all the soil.  We’ve picked all the remains and survivors off the plot to stop the birds getting any poison.

Slug taking large bite out of onion leaves

Slugs in the onions

Slug taking large bite out of onion leaves

As the leaves on all the vegetables develop, we are finding that they are attracting the attentions of hungry slugs.  Their preferred meal is often the beetroot leaves, although they are not adverse to munching on the thick leaves of the onions, as they wilt and lie on the earth.