Wednesday, 4 June 2008

"You Can't Be A Little Bit Pregnant. You Either Are Or You Aren't"

No, not me! Goodness, let's not go there. This was organic gardening guru Bob Flowerdew. Not that he is pregnant either, but he was talking about organic gardening.

I was listening to him on Radio Four's Gardeners' Question Time (gosh, did I just really write that? Snort, I can't believe how old, how like my mother, I'm becoming. And I'm not yet forty....). Anyway, I was listening to my beloved Radio Four (or Radio Snore as it's quaintly nicknamed in this house by other, less discerning people) and I never usually listen to this programme.

That's not for any particular reason - I just don't seek it out. I thought it was Boring. I admit when a lady came on about her aspidistra that is failing to thrive I nearly found myself falling head first into the chocolate birthday cake I was making for my 12-year-old.

But, really, there's loads of chat about veggies. And Bunny's on it. One man asked how he should combat pests on his veggies; get in there early and spray, deal with them when they arrive or just give up and buy his greens at Tesco.

I can see how tempting it is to go for the last option. Honestly, the one thing that could make me give up my allotment (community garden) is pests. So I was interested in what they had to say.

One panelist was very jokey and not particularly helpful but Bunny said if she was in danger of losing a crop, then yes, she would spray. And there are some things, like slug pellets, which have been certified for organic use.

My ears pricked up at this bit. I have been using the "safe to use around children and wildlife and certified organic" blue pellets. I'm not sure they completely eradicate slugs and snails but I'm sure my plants are looking less ravished thanks to them.

But Bob waded in with his organic club rules which state No Organic Certified Slug Pellets. Ever. And his pithy pregnant quote. If that's the case then I am a little bit 'pregnant'. I apparently garden organically "a bit" or, according to him, not at all.

So, am I cheating? Is the only way to get rid of molluscs to remove every. single. one. by. hand? Let me tell you, that is not going to happen. I know about the usual grapefruit, slug pubs, hair, coffee grounds, egg shells route to a slug free plot. I think I'm going to try them all, including those expensive nematode worms. I'm just not sure I'll have room for the veggies after all that.


  1. Slugs are just horrible. I was plagued with them when we lived in Manchester and never found a satisfactory solution. Nemotodes worked to some extent, but not on the snails (and you need to keep applying it to kill the slugs). I used to throw the snails over the wall into the cemetery we backed on to, in the hope that they'd find some nice flowers to munch on there, but I'm sure they just came straight back to my veggies! I've not seen a single slug here in Ontario - I think the frogs in the garden must eat them all!

  2. I have to confess to using the "organically certified" slug pellets from time to time. I used nematodes last year - but that made growing my own very expensive.

  3. I've used coarsely crushed eggshells before with some success, and they do seem to like the pubs...I'm all for the pellets if it's going to save the garden. :)

  4. I don't use anything, I am kind of with Bob Flowerdew on this one.


  5. Hi - I consider myself organic with the except of organic slug pellets. I cant bring myself to cut them in half and last year having lost a whole row of lettuces overnight I decided enough was enough so I now vow by these slug pellets. I'm not prepared to pay out for nemotodes as I garden on a budget. I actively encourage birds and frogs into the garden but I think sometimes, particularly last year with all the rain, even they couldnt keep up with the slugs and snails.

  6. I use the organically certified slug pellets too - and I'm not too keen on absolute rules.
    Some gardeners suffer from slugs and snails more than others - at the very least we all deserve a lettuce.

  7. I'm obviously having a phantom organic allotmentcy. As I thought I was organic but as you can see from yesterdays post I scattered pellets around my cabbages. I'd better see if my urine tests organic negative now.
    I don't listen to gardeners question time but it is one of my mums fav's, she said that Bob Flowerdew was very downbeat this week -suggesting if you haven't got planting done by it was all over for this year.

  8. It's really interesting reading what works and doesn't for people. Also whether they're organic and still use the pellets.

    Amanda, another reason to envy you - no slugs! There can't be many frogs at the allotment because the slugs are eating everything. No-one has a pond which is quite good so I don't have to worry about the little ones.

    Karen, the cost of the nematodes is off-putting. At this rate, I'll be growing the most expensive veggies ever.

    Nancy, I'm going to have to up my pro-activeness I can see. I bought some cheap beer for my slug pubs today.

    Rhiannon, you made me chuckle. Your mum's right -BF was downbeat. The cut off date is June 21 because after that winter's on it's way....

  9. I have succumbed this year to slug pellets - in fact this week, as the little slimy sods have knawed through my squash and were heading for the corgettes.

    I say if it risks a crop then use it. Sod Bob. Hes got an allotment about 50 million acres big, with pond, with an eco system that is well established....use them! But sparingly....

    Cat x

  10. Have you tried putting out a pan of flat beer? Dig it in so the rim of the pan is at ground level. The little darlings wade right and drown--but they drown happy! My first night, with two pans, I estimated I "harvested" about 200 slugs.