Sunday, May 20, 2007

One garden's mission for a healthy salad bed

My first attempt at starting off the salad bed was disasterously ruined by the dreaded slugs. I spent a good couple of hours one day preparing the soil and carefully sowing neat rows of lettuce, rocket, spinach, sorrel and calendula only for the slugs to rise from the soil each night to eat pretty much every little seedling that dared to germinate.

I managed to rescue a few spinach and calendula seedlings from the bed which are growing happily in the coldframe for the moment and I've sown more calendula, lettuce and rocket in the coldframe too.

Not to be put off, a battle plan has been drawn up and we are fighting back. Following the advice on Gardeners' World a few weeks ago, our salad bed was treated yesterday with nematodes. These are minute organisms which when watered into the soil, basically kill off the slugs hiding under the soil. We have to wait a week for the effects to take place, then it should be safe to use the salad bed again. For extra measure, a border of copper tape will be put around the edge of the raised bed to stop any slugs climbing in over the sides. The treatment provides 6 weeks of protection so we will need to keep treating the soil to keep them at bay.

Now I know the slugs provide food for other creatures, which is why we are only treating the smallest raised bed in this way in order to grow our salad in the ground. The organic slug repellent granules seem to be working well enough to protect the beans and the other veg hasn't been affected enough to need protection. So, we will see how it goes. We will need to treat the salad bed with a dose of nematodes every 6 weeks for full protection, which, if it is keeping the slugs from eating all our salad is worth the cost in my opinion.

Millions of tiny nematode organisms

In preparation for regaining the space in our salad bed, I have placed a small order for a few more packets of seed. The plan really is to have a lovely mix of salad leaves and herbs growing in amongst each other to provide a tasty mix of leaves for salad every day.

The new additions ordered are Italian Giant Parsley, Red Salad Bowl Lettuce, Bergamo Lettuce and chives. I will also be trying two new asian herbs Perilla and Japanese Vege from seeds that have kindly been offered to me by Zada. I'm looking forward to receiving these to add to the salad bed. Thanks Zada!


Unknown said...

Did the nematodes work? How's the salad bed going?
Did the garden get drenched over the bank holiday weekend?
My tomatoes are starting to fruit - I'm so excited! They are about 50cm tall now - do you think I need to pinch the tops?
My herbs also doing well in the speedy propagator - I went to Rome for the weekend to turn to see some of them grew a centimeter!
Hope all's well.

Kim said...

Hi Zada,

We are hoping the nematodes have worked, however the true test will be if any seedlings planted in the salad bed get eaten!

I have a hectic workload with my final college submissions due over the next couple of weeks so I haven't had much time at all to devote to the garden :( I'm hoping to find time this w/e to sow a load of seeds.

That is great that your toms are fruiting! Yes, I'd be inclined to pinch out the top shoot now. I'd also recommend spraying the flowers each day with water as it helps them to set. A tip given to me by a veteran veggie grower!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your tips!
Best of luck with your final college submissions over the next few weeks!