(discussing seeds, cloches, slugs and future pond prospects!)
Monday, March 27, 2006
Friday, March 24, 2006
Dilute caffeine solutions repel and kill slugs, say researchers in Hawaii. The chance finding could lead to a new environmentally friendly way of controlling the crop pests, the team says.
Robert Hollingsworth and colleagues at the Agricultural Research Service in Hawaii were field-testing caffeine as a toxin against a non-native frog. But they discovered that 95 per cent of large slugs were killed by a spray containing two per cent caffeine.
The team then tested lower concentrations of caffeine on cabbage leaves. At a concentration of just 0.01 per cent, caffeine reduced slugs' feeding by one quarter. A cup of instant coffee contains about 0.05 per cent caffeine.
Bill Symondson, a molecular ecologist at the Pest Management and Ecotoxicology Centre, Cardiff University, says the finding is interesting. "Slug control is extremely important economically - more so than any single insect in the UK. There is very little public tolerance of slugs. People make a huge fuss if they find one in their lettuce."
The researchers say that they do not know why caffeine killed the slugs. But they suggest it may act as a neurotoxin, since sprayed slugs fell to "uncoordinated writhing" before dying.
"Caffeine is present in coffee and cocoa beans to protect the plant against insects, but it is pure chance that it has a toxic effect on molluscs. It could be very useful because coffee is not likely to harm people so it's far better than spreading the traditional products, which also harm insects," Symondson told New Scientist.Luckily enough there is a huge pile of coffee at the allotment for everyone and we have covered the soil around plants most at risk to slugs with some coffee already. With any luck it should work! Fingers crossed!
Monday, March 20, 2006
We even visited another allotment off Colchecter Avenue (near Newport Rd in Cardiff) and saw some damaged garlic from some rather hungry rabbits! Karl has been swopping potatoes with a colleague and I think we're about ready to get the potatoes seeded in the tyres after some rather good advice. (Cheers Jimmy!) I forgot to mention that last week that Karl has sorted out the compost bin at the front of the allotment and it looks pretty smart!
8 piled up tyres ready for planting potatoes in. 4 varieties: Desire, Pentland Javelin, Picasso & Adora.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
The good news however is that home growing from seed is going fantastically well! I think I'm addicted to growing anything I can from seed! I've got 8 tall and strong sunflowers on the go plus some tomatoes (moneymaker) which have just sprouted! (12 have popped up so far)
3 Rosemary cuttings are rooting in very slowly and I have some rocket & lambs lettuce seeds which I don't currently have space to grow at the mo. (Think my housemates will kill me if I plonk yet another seed tray on the windowsill!)
Predicted rain tomorrow but only a couple of weeks until the clocks go forward....not that I'm counting! (26th by the way for BST!)
Edit: I've just been given a tip about growing lettuce. Apparently they don't have large roots so you can simply put a pot in the ground for it to grow in and then when you want to harvest it - just pull up the plant and keep it indoors inside the pot and then it won't wilt.