Members’ gardens, May 2021

Hosta heaven and lots of spring colour in Vija’s garden. For slug control, she recommends the Gardeners World recipe for garlic spray (see Here we go gathering slugs in May).

Here is Annie’s colourful Spring garden view.

This is a little frog in Annie’s garden – she raised frogs from tadpoles in a bucket in 2019, so this might be a returning one!

Here we go gathering slugs in May…

On Sunday I picked 22 slugs off my small hostas (just to reassure readers, I don’t do this regularly – I do have other things to do!). With the advent of damper weather they are really starting to show themselves. For those who love growing hostas, slugs and snails are probably the biggest pests and even the giants like Sum and Substance and Big Daddy are not always immune to their predations. Growing in a coarse medium, or using environmentally friendly slug pellets, doesn’t necessarily solve the problem because slugs are smarter than you think. If necessary they will abseil down a neighbouring plant to get at the leaves of your hosta, so anything at ground level will not always stop them.

Emerging Hosta 'Patriot', with Hosta 'Undulata'

Preparatory products have been, rightly, removed from the market as they have proved toxic. A garlic wash has long been recommended as an alternative and I have used this myself in the past.

When I recently bought some new hostas (those of you who know my garden might wonder why I need any more, but I justified the purchase on the basis that one was a replacement for Dancing Mouse and the other was a gift) the recipe for a garlic wash was included with the plants, which I thought I would share with you. Please see below.

Vija

Hooked on hostas

At the last count, I had 32 hostas and most of these are in pots. Admittedly, some of these are miniatures, but nevertheless this means that in March a lot of checking and potting on needs to take place. My basic collection has increased over the years because people have given me hostas which they have bought and not had much luck with and then passed on to me. I am always grateful!

HostaSumandSubstance
Sum and Substance

I check all pots to see whether root growth is coming through the bottom of the pot; where small enough I tip the plant out and check to see whether it is root-bound or the compost is looking a bit stale.  However, Sum and Substance and Big Daddy are each about 4 feet tall and Big Daddy is in such a large pot it really needs two strong men to sort him out!  Empress Wu is catching up with these guys in terms of size. I then use John Innes number 3 to pot up again. I try and leave a fair bit of space at the top of each pot to allow for the addition of a protective mulch. I make this with a mixture of farmyard manure and home made compost, which I keep as rough as possible with eggshells – this does a good job of discouraging slugs and snails while the plants are young and gives them a good head start. The coarser leaved hostas then tend to manage quite well thereafter. This year I have added a granular feed which should last 6 months. Many years ago I read somewhere that feeding hostas produces weaker growth, more susceptible to attack and I have never fed mine apart from the spring dose of compost, manure and sometimes bonemeal.

HostaFrancesWilliams
Frances Williams

In my experience, the general gardening advice that the coarser the leaf the less likely a hosta is to be eaten by slugs and snails is true. Particularly resilient is Frances Williams and I can’t recommend this one enough. I also find Krossa Regal and Patriot very good. It’s also useful to think about where you are growing hostas. If they are crowded together in a border with lots of other plants, slugs and snails will still get to them no matter how many slug pellets you use. Snails can abseil down the leaf or stem of another plant to reach a hosta. As always in the garden, a consideration of the growing environment means there is less need to introduce artificial measures to control the pests.

HostapatriotDorset
Patriot

Vija