Posts Tagged ‘slugs’

KEY TO LENGTHY RUNNER BEAN HARVEST IS PICK EVERY TWO DAYS – 4th wk in August 2013

Runner bean plants in flower out growing the sunflower. The most generous of plants which suits the smallest of growing spaces.

Runner bean plants in flower out growing the sunflower. The most generous of plants which suits the smallest of growing spaces.

The low slug population after that really cold and long winter, which destroyed millions of slug eggs in the soil, was a great boost to vegetable growing this summer. However, the runner bean plants did not entirely escape slug predation, but in the end there was a bumper crop. The runner bean seedlings planted nearer the pond in the shadow of hedging succumbed to night-time slug attacks. On the other hand, the plants in full sun grew quickly and the stems soon became too tough for any slug teeth.

The beautiful runner bean flowers are day by day transformed into pendulous tender bean pods. Regular picking before the pods get too big and tough ensures the flavours are delicious and the pod does not become fibrous. It is amazing that this delicious vegetable is not grown commercially in any shops near where I live. I know Sonairte in Laytown sells organically grown runner beans at the Dublin Food Co-Op each Saturday in Newmarket Square, Dublin 8. That being said, as a GIY-er, runner beans are among the most decorative and delicious vegetables to grow. Another attraction is that, once supported by twigs, canes or string, they grow tall with a very small footprint. In other words, runner beans fit into even the most bijou garden and I’ve seen them grow well, with regular watering,  in a pot on a sunny balcony too.

BEST COURGETTE CROP YET DUE TO GOOD SUNSHINE THIS SUMMER – 3rd wk in August 2013

For a vegetarian, the courgette cut lengthways  makes for two very versatile dishes. I have scooped out many courgette halves this summer and tried all manner of fillings, before roasting each nutritious ‘boat’ into a piping hot kaleidoscope of flavours.

Last summer was a disaster for my courgette patch and 2011 before that wasn’t much better. Whereas before, I was lucky to get three or four decent fruits, this year they are (as people say) coming out my ears! I know the weather was a key factor as the one packet of ‘Nero di Milano’ seeds from The Organic Centre in Co. Leitrim has lasted me three years. In my small garden, four plants is all I can really fit in the courgette patch.

Another factor may be that in 2011 and 2012, my seeds were sown under glass in mid May, whereas this year with the higher temperatures, I started seed off in 3 inch pots under glass on the 30th April. More sun, a longer growing season and a lower slug population all helped. When I saw they were growing well, I doused the ground with buckets of water from the washing up once or twice a week too.

It is a pleasure to have more food than I need for a change from my

Some of the courgette harvest, except for the big one. This is from the Goatstown allotment of Eve and Áine. Turn your back and courgettes become marrows!

Some of the courgette harvest, except for the big one. This is from the Goatstown allotment of Eve and Áine. Turn your back and courgettes morph into marrows!

small garden. Courgettes, I have discovered, make very acceptable presents. In return one tends to get unusual cooking tips. To learn about how to preserve them, I must book a course with food preserving guru, Hans Wieland, on Saturday 28th September for just €40 in Sonairte, Laytown, Co. Meath. See www.sonairte.ie. The course is called ‘Home Preserving – Traditional and Modern Methods’. See you there!

HOEING AND SLUG PATROLS – SECOND WEEK OF MAY

All parts of the garden are now planted.  The soil temperature is still cool and showers are keeping it that way. Growth is therefore still slow but peas, beans, Brussel sprouts, kale and all the rest are happy to sit and wait for the expected warmer weather ahead. However the more robust plants (commonly known as weeds) are thriving, along with the veg loving wildlife (such as snails and slugs).

The priority during this period is to control the weed growth and slug and snail predations, atleast until the veg plants grow big enough to overshadow the soil and shade out the weed growth. Slug and snail activity also wanes as weather gets drier. (We live in hope!)

Dutch HoeLate at night whenever I get home I venture forth often after midnight, torch in hand, around the garden to remove startled slugs and snails. Each morning, before breakfast, I again inspect, but this time with hoe in hand. Any weeds which have appeared are easily hoed before they get established.

An alternative to this routine would be to get a couple of hens.  Meanwhile however, the torch and the hoe are on hand near the back door for the forseeable future.