Two weeks ago I used this wheelbarrow. Today I found it totally overgrown with cleavers, or goosegrass like we call it. And so it is with quite a few other areas of the garden. During the last week or two growth has been fierce due to weather conditions, it has been very damp with temperatures between 15 and 17 degrees.
Last year I started to try and apply permaculture principles in the garden. My main reason was that I am very interested in foraging, in wild plants. I noticed that these plants, such as dandelions, nettles, or goosegrass would grow really well, while some vegetables were having difficulties. I thought that maybe mixing them all, letting them grow together so to say, would help keep pests at bay. So I read up on permaculture and found that it is all about getting a balance in the garden, or rather getting the ecosystem balanced. Therefore when during the early months of this year the dandelions started to grow well, I used a lot of them in our foods, same with nettles, and even goosegrass. But then I made a mistake, for which I am now paying, I let all these wild plants grow without disturbing them at all. The goosegrass has totally taken over, I guess I did not use enough of it. I now realise that I should have kept the upper hand and at least tamed the wild plants a little.
So today I made a start at clearing.
The other motivation to clearing up around the raised beds is the problem with the slugs and snails. Everyday now I gather them, but the supply keeps coming, and my plants are being attacked and eaten faster than I can replant them. This morning I discovered two mature broccoli plants, and one kale plant with leaves full of holes. In desperation I started to cut the hedges around the raised beds, and cleared away any leaves lying around, sure enough I filled a jar with the culprits in no time.
I went and googled permaculture and slug control and learnt a lot. It said in the article that it was no good transporting the slugs to another area, this only un-balances that ecosystem there, so I got to stop doing that. It gave quite a few good ideas to deal with this plague, one I liked is the use of beer, and tomorrow I will purchase a six pack and hope to have a lot of drunken slugs! Not sure which type of beer to use though 🙂 so will get the light beers I think. Some of the other options mentioned in the article, such as frogs, hedgehogs, nematodes, toads, or ducks etc… did not appeal to me, one other option though I liked, it is the encouragement of the carob beetle, a predator of slugs. It explained how to build a nest for these creatures, something I might try out at some stage as I quite like beetles.
One of the principles of permaculture is that one should just observe the garden, see what goes on, and take note. I do that on a daily basis and have found that the beds that have herbs, such as oregano, lemon balm, rosemary, calendula, sage, and mint growing in them, have much less damage from said slugs and snails. There is also one type of lettuce that survives every time, so that is the one that I should definitely sow next time round. The broad beans remain untouched, they are also growing on the bed with garlic.
Its a learning curve, exciting and challenging – it can be very discouraging when so much of what you sow or plant gets eaten, but there has got to be a way around it. I am sure to be getting on top of this particular problem.
Goosegrass taking over part of the garden!
Snail and slug, two culprits which while I love them, I must rebalance the eco system of my garden.
Some of the damage in the above photos, damage of mature plants!
The type of lettuce the slugs don’t touch. And around the beds clearing up is being done seriously now!