Remay gives plants successful start

Word has it that healthy plants are less likely to succumb to predation, but after watching my

Word has it that healthy plants are less likely to succumb to predation, but after watching my apparently healthy looking plants fall prey to greedy little insects, that’s not what I’ve found. Let me tell you about what worked and what didn’t.

This spring I covered my seedling trays with pieces of remay to keep out white butterflies dying to unload their eggs on my brassica seedlings as soon as I turned my back.

Pouring water into the bottom half-inch of the flats allowed water to flow up to the seeds by capillary action, didn’t disturb the seeds as they would have been if watered from above and reduced damping-off. Serendipitously, slugs and wood bugs drowned in the bottom of the trays and left my seedlings alone! So for the first time in the 10 years we’ve lived here, most of my susceptible seedlings survived.

Out in the garden come transplanting time I got hoops in place and readied a length of remay before I even transplanted brassicas under the watchful eyes of laden white butterflies. I kept the trays of seedlings covered with remay right up until I transplanted them into the garden, then when they were all dug in I quickly covered the hoops with the large remay and battened down the perimeter.

That was three weeks ago and the plants are doing fine. I intend to keep the remay over the plants until they’re finished, removing it only to side-dress with fertilizer and spraying with compost tea.

To avoid bringing in bugs that’ll kill your seedlings along with your compost, you can do a few things: wait until the compost is nearly finished and the bugs will have gone elsewhere for a meal, sterilize the compost with boiling water or in a 350 F oven for about 30 minutes, or you can buy compost.

Using your own unsterilized compost has the advantage of including microbes that will help growing seedlings absorb nutrients and prevent damping-off.

I experimented with straw bales this spring and planted strawberries on them in my greenhouse, hoping that pillbugs that in previous years destroyed the crop would be reluctant to scale the bales. Oh, it started off innocuously at first with just a few tiny ones crawling around and I sprinkled used coffee grounds to hopefully throw them off the strawberry scent. But every day there were more bugs and fewer leaves on the strawberries until finally, beaten, I gave up, threw out all the plants and dismantled the straw bales. Hordes of the biggest pillbugs I’ve ever seen clung to the straw as I spread the stuff out to dry to use in the compost heap where pillbugs belong.

A foot-wide perimeter around the whole bed kept clean of grass deterred slugs fairly well last year so I’m going to put in low edging around that too and dig a small trench on the garden side. Speedy slug-eating ground beetles should run over the edging, fall into the garden and be reluctant to climb back out, I’m told.

Since slugs like moist areas, soaker hoses that leave most of the soil dry are ideal. I’ll wait until the soil is quite dry and warm before I use any mulch and hope that enough slugs will have left by then that plagues of them won’t enjoy the cool dampness under the mulch.

Here are a couple more ideas: mow the lawn in the evening when slugs come out of hiding; don’t bother using nematodes to control slugs since the infected slugs become unattractive to ground beetles.

Maybe this year more than two cabbages will survive — maybe even a cauliflower.

Just Posted

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Blue Moon Marquee from Duncan will be featured at the 2021 TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival on June 28. (Submitted)
Blue Moon Marquee to play Vancouver Jazz Festival

What’s coming up in the A&E scene

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Grade 12 students Sophia Kazakoff and Catherine Yuan accept QMS’s Stigma Free Designation award from Stigma-Free Society president, Andrea Paquette. (Submitted)
Duncan’s QMS earns ‘Stigma-Free’ designation

“No school in the province has accomplished what QMS did in such a short period of time”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

A view of the outside of St. Andrews Roman Catholic Cathedral on Victoria’s Blanshard Street. (Don Denton/News staff)
Vancouver Island bishop apologizes for church’s role in residential schools

Bishop Gary Gordon of the Diocese of Victoria voices commitment to healing and reconciliation

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

Most Read