Atlast, the whole garden is planted and crops are growing in their final positions in each bed. I use a swan neck hand hoe bought at the Organic Centre, Co Leitrim, and sometimes a long handled oscillating hoe and another Dutch hoe on a daily basis almost. Preventing weed seedlings taking a hold is the main reason for hoeing regularly. However, even if no weeds were coming up, I would still hoe to deter slug movements. The slime trails laid down by slugs are used again and again by other slugs which generally lead all nearby slugs to your prized salads and other vulnerable crops. The hoe wrecks these slime trails which are virtually invisible to the human eye. Hence the obsession with hoeing even when there are no weeds to be seen.
This year, I had the hoe with me for measuring purposes as I planted out leeks, leaf beet and beetroot seedlings. The rows of each crop are therefore spaced just far enough apart to allow me to hoe each separating corridor of soil. So far, so good, the slugs are getting the message. I expect they are slithering far away to where they will not be disturbed by this obsessive slug-road-wrecker – c’est moi!