Welcome... September 2012
By: Steve Ott
As I write this in mid-July, the big talking point is the enormous damage being wreaked by slugs on home-grown and commercial crops nationwide following months of unprecedented rain. This has even led to shortages of some slug controls, notably the biological ones based on nematodes, as we report on our news pages starting on page 6.
However, there are plenty of other ways to keep the little blighters in check, so I won’t be panicking and throwing in the trowel just yet.
Nature has a way of dealing with imbalances caused by pest population explosions and I’ve no doubt that an army of ground beetles, hedgehogs, frogs and other predators will rise to the challenge in response to the mass of protein-packed slug coming their way. All the more reason to make a little piece of your productive patch a haven for such creatures... and advice on this can be found on page 82 to help you do just that.
The jet stream, we are told, is on the move at last, returning us to our more normal late summer weather conditions; so I hope that by the time you read this rainy skies will be but a distant memory and sunshine will prevail. I certainly hope so for the sake of my courgettes and squashes, which up until now have simply been sitting in the ground and sulking.
Forgetting worries about slugs and the rain for a moment; we have a packed issue for you this month. The harvest is in full swing and with that in mind Gaby Bartai brings you a four page special feature on bottling as the perfect way to preserve many of your favourite fruits. There is more in-depth advice on the topic of storing your produce from Joyce Russell on page 50, not forgetting our Jobs for the Month pages. And if you’d like to know how to save seeds and cash, turn to page 78 for advice from Neil Munro, manager of the Heritage Seed Library, on how to get best results from this age-old but much neglected practice.
Gardening writer Gerard Baker is not one to let the grass grow under his feet. He recently returned from a trip to the Falkland Islands, which have again been in the news recently as arguments over sovereignty rage.
In the midst of all this, the islanders themselves get on with their lives in what is a very harsh environment and I hope you’ll be as inspired as I was by their efforts to grow their own food. It just goes to show what an adaptable community they are and the standard of produce would put many of us who garden in much more benign environments to shame. Find out more on page 73.
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