We need more frost!

Or at least I do! The snails, and particularly the slugs, who sailed through last winter’s wet but not particularly cold weather, are out in force this October. My winter chard is suffering, not least because I was away for the weekend and once all the first wave of gastropods had eaten my organic slug pellets, the second wave crawled in and ate the chard, the swines!

Did you know snails can have hundreds to thousands of teeth! Most mollusc groups, including snails, have a set of teeth that is shaped like a wavy ribbon called a radula. There can be hundreds of rows of teeth and several different tooth types in one snail or very few rows with a single tooth in each. As the teeth get worn they are continuously replaced by developing teeth, much in the same way that a shark's teeth are. These teeth can be used for scraping food such as algae or tugging away small amounts of leaf material.

I’m not a very ruthless pest killer, sadly – I wish I was brave enough to go out and cut slugs in half with a pair of scissors like Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, but I’m not. I can’t do beer traps either, as the whole thing is disgusting the next morning when you have to empty it.

There is a bit of a plus side, which is that if you can get your chard to a reasonable size, the snails tend to give up – they don’t like the thickness of the leaves, but given that my chard is still baby chard, they are simply destroying the plants. A damn good frost would sort them out without me having to do anything about it, so I’m hoping for clear nights and low temperatures, otherwise I shall have to get ruthless.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, something finally makes sense. I've often seen you refer to chard, but have not known what it is, but if the picture in this post is 'a' chard, then it is what we call rhubarb Down Under?

My favourite vegetable: stewed for breakfast, or crumbled for dessert (and as a trifle). I've taken a rose bush out to make room for a couple of plants.

Mark Hubbard

October 23, 2007 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Nope, not at all! Rhubarb is a gunnera, and a perennial, chard is an annual similar to spinach and beets with a bitter, pungent and slightly salty flavour.

Swiss and ruby chard, along with kale, mustard greens and collard greens, are part of the family of leafy green vegetables often referred to as "greens".

The thick, crunchy stalk is either white, red or yellow with wide fan-like green leaves. Both the leaves and stalk of chard are edible, although the stems vary in texture with the white ones being the most tender, apparently - I never eat them, I just tear off the leaves and steam them with orange butter or stir fry them with sesame seeds and garlic (watch out for future recipes).

October 26, 2007 at 3:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, well there you go :)

But now I've skillfully weaved rhubarb into the conversation, a question. The leaves of rhubarb are poisonous (I know this because I managed to kill a pet sheep when I was a kid by feeding her same [actually, a couple I think]), thus, can they be put into compost?

(I suspect it's okay, as the heat would probably break down anything toxic, but then again, you said a few posts ago not to compost brassicas as the diseases in them are not killed by the composting process?)

By the way, I've finally got my first 'crop' of compost onto the garden: not totally successful, but not smelly or anything, and I've planted by corn crop in it, so it will be interesting.


(I'm wondering if I've asked this before? If so, I've forgotten the answer, so regardless, I'll let it stand.)

October 26, 2007 at 2:25 PM  

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