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For the last two years I have been spraying veg., and plants that are high risk of slug/snail damage, with HELIX TOSTA. I have had amazing results, no damage to plants and no poisoned slugs for birds to eat. The slugs just seem repelled from eating. Probably something to do with HELIX TOSTA being made from toasted ground up snail shells!
You can buy the pills from a homeopathic supplier. I bought a new sprayer just for this job, as I did not want a trace any previous contents. Dissolve one pill per 200ml of water, spray on plants and soil, the effect will last for three to four months!
I hope this may be of interest to you and any other gardeners.
Check your parsnip foliage, the caterpillars are back!
Hello Janet, I ordered BioBT on line. you will not find it in garden centres.
I do not remember leather jacket damage when we first started growing veg here but recently the problem has become worse. We live on the Essex/Suffolk border near Colchester. When we first moved here 30 years ago, we made a list of every bird we saw in our three acre garden. The list was very long, with some unusual birds. Over the years the magpies moved in and now we have Sparrow hawks, loads of kestrels and often I see anything up to six pairs of buzzards circling over head. I do not think it is a coincidence that we now see hardly any garden birds. Starlings eat loads of leather jackets, I have not seen one of these lovely little birds for about 15 years. Nor do we have Song thrushes, wind thrushes, blackbirds or jays, the list goes on and on. We only see blue tits, grate tits, robins, pigeons and pheasants all the rest are carrion. Has anyone else found this to be the case? There must be a connection between carrion that eat the birds, young and eggs of the species that help keep grubs, caterpillars and anything else gardeners need help getting rid of.
Best regards Anne
Thank you for your reply Charles. I will try the seaweed mulch and give them a good feed.
best regards Anne
A very late update on what happened to my root crop when I harvested them. The carrots were a complete right off only growing about half an inch long and ended up being put straight on the compost heap. Strangely, the parsnips have been fantastic. Normal size and perfect.
This years seed is in the ground, the carrots are one end of the bed, the parsnips are the other end, the Bacillus Thuringienses is in the potting shed and my eyes will be sharper to spot any tell tale brown patches on the leaves.
I had forgotten I had put this link up and have done nothing about it myself. So was very pleased to read your post. Have the 77L trays arrived yet? I would be interested to hear how they work out and will be ordering some if your comments are good. They look deeper than your normal trays I wonder how removing the plant plug will go?
I have just read your very interesting April 2014 news letter. The last item is about asparagus. Do I presume you are mulching an existing bed ( filling gaps with your new seedlings) and if so are you doing it as above ‘ little mulch on the crowns and 4-6in in spaces between.’
Are you saying that the crowns stay at the same level but the roots will raise up into the higher mulch? I have a 5 year old bed half of which has never really done much. I am on the verge of digging the weak ones up and starting again.
The soil is sandy, not very wet but it is flat and not ridged.
Really enjoying all your helpful information.
I always get my seed from KINGS SEED of COGGESHALL. Next year I am going to grow Sun Gold for the first time, as Charles says it is ready to eat very early. I shall also grow Gardeners Delight.
Did you do anything different with your tomatoes last summer? I think Charles is the best person to throw some light on the lack of flavour problem, I haven’t got a clue.
Sorry to hear your tomatoes have been tasteless this year. I presume you are growing the same variety as normal and they have been disappointing. I have to say mine have been fine, I always grow Gardeners Delight. Charles speaks very highly of Sun Gold.
Thank you for your comments. I will let you know how it goes.
Re: the photographs, yes these are the culprits that destroyed 25% of my parsnip foliage and 100% of carrot foliage.
The damage was incredibly quick, only taking a week or two to go from the best crop ever, to decimated. Strangely enough despite the quantity of leaf the caterpillars ate, they did not get any bigger. This seems impossible but is the case.
Someone wrote, on this blog, that there is a parsnip moth/butterfly in USA but it only eats wild parsnip flowers. Not the case here, they only ate the leaves ( but then my parsnips had not gone to seed)
Willsandlands (member of this blog) advised me to buy a packet of Bio BT. I sprayed it on the foliage last Sunday, it is now Thursday and the caterpillars have virtually all gone. So it took four days. I can now see new fresh green growth shooting from the base of parsnips and carrots.
I have pulled some carrots and they are sound but very small. The parsnips I have not checked and will not bother until I see what the harvest brings after a frost.
I did not water the parsnips and carrots whilst the spray was on the foliage as it washes off very easily, but now the caterpillars have gone I am feeding and watering the plants more than normal as I feel they have had an enormous check and the new green growth will also be taking more energy out of them.
Next year I shall certainly keep my eyes sharp in July to check for brown spots on foliage and always have some Bio BT at the ready.
So a big thank you to Willsandlands
I did read your comment on ‘ how to keep caterpillars off cabbages’ and thought it might be just the job for my parsnips. My packet of BioBT arrived today and I am waiting for the rain to stop before spraying it on. Thank you so much for putting this note on the forum. Hope I have the same success that you did.
If you have thin brown papery patches on your parsnip leaves. I am afraid the caterpillars have started munching, they seem to eat away all the green matter underneath the leaf, just leaving the upper layer. But Willsandlands who has commented on this blog ” how to keep caterpillars off my brassicas” suggests a biological control and has left the web site address. I have ordered some immediately and am hoping this will be the answer.
Thank you for your reply Charles. I live on the Essex/Suffolk border. I have not seen anything resembling a swallowtail moth, and having googled their caterpillars I don’t think they are the army that are eating my parsnips. The caterpillars on my parsnips are ( at the moment ) 5 to 10 ml long, but I suspect they will become huge if they carry on eating as ferociously as they have been. They are quiet translucent, pale green and with black heads. They eat the green underside of the leaf, which makes a brown patch of damage on the foliage.
I agree with you that leek moth is enough, we don’t want parsnip and carrot caterpillar as well!