There are some books that say that you can generally cease all slug control measures when your plants reach a certain level of maturity. But this leaves the question how do you know exactly when they have reached it. Recently I’ve relaxed the regime to see what happened when I stopped putting the comfry out and stopped the picking. The result as you might expect was a full frontal attack on the weaker plants in my fraternity. The runner beans I bought as plants and put in later than the french beans have been particularly badly hit, with one plant totally gone and the others performing weakly with retsricted upward growth and minimal leaf cover. The french beans have done really well the other side of the bean poles and although I have found slugs and snails on them they are big enough to withstand attack. I have also noticed that the peas already weakened by attack earlier in the year have been a target of further attacks. Thinking about natural predators the one ultimate drawback with most of them is that they can’t actually climb! What a bummer. Snails and slugs are fairly easy targets when they’re sitting on my bean pole but I’m the only one whose ever going to reach them – apart from that is carnivorous slugs. I hadn’t seen this before last night and it is a particularly gruesome sight. In this case two slugs were attacking a third at the same time – one on either side. I watched for a while until I felt slightly repelled by the whole thing and moved on. The great thing is I still manage to have a big salad every day with leaves (that have hardly been effected) and peas (which have given a good crop), without using any sort of bought slug control or traps. The only major pest damage to the plot this year has been from a mouse. I have recently noticed aphids on the broad beans but they can be easily removed by crushing between finger and thumb – taking care not to damage any leaves or stems in the process. A quick job easily done with no risk of harming any natural predator in the process.
My computer at home broke the other day so I’m writing this from the library. It’s amazing how cut off I feel at home now. With immediate effect I started feeling disadvantaged by the absence of technology, at a loose end and slightly down at the thought of not being able to get in touch with people – through the blog, facebook, emails and so on. I’ve come to rely on my ibook as a portable extra friend so it was with some worry I allowed a courier to take it off to the apple care repair centre. I’m not sure when it will be back. In the meantime I’ll hope to carry on posting ad hoc whenever I’m near a computer I can use.