Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Natural Organic Snail and Slug Bait

Our local paper has a weekly column with gardening advice. Recently one of the columns talked about iron phosphate as a natural snail bait. In the past I've used Corry's flake snail bait in very limited areas to keep animals away from the snail bait. I'd never heard of using iron phosphate as organic snail bait but according to the gardening columnist the iron phosphate is also safe for children, pets and other animals. The pest control is often sold as Sluggo and Escar-Go. The idea is to sprinkle the iron phosphate around the areas the snails inhabit. The snails ingest the iron phosphate granuals or tablets and basically get a bellyache and die. I always choose natural pest control whenever possible because it is good for your garden and safe for the birds and animals that visit your yard.

Here is a good article talking about a variety of snail and slug pest control methods. Apparently Iron phosphate bait may help more against snails than slugs. The article above stated that using bait in the same areas helps decrease the snail population because snails tend to return to the same areas for their food source. So check the areas in your yard most heavily populated by snails and repeat placing the snail bait there over time.

My garden is full of lush plants such as passionflower vines, ferns and calla lilies that are perfect hiding places for snails and slugs. The snails chew on the passionflower flowers and leaves but seem to leave the ferns and calla lilies alone so they are good snail proof plants for your garden. Fuchsias seem not to be of interest mostly to snails other than a chew here and there on the flowers. I don't see much damage on the foxgloves from snails either although I can't be as certain of their taste for foxglove leaves and flowers. I do know from experience that snails decimate Hostas readily.

The article listed a number of plants that are not attractive to snails and slugs such as begonias, California poppy, fuchsias, geraniums, impatiens, lantana, nasturtiums, purple robe cup flower, and plants with stiff leaves and highly scented foliage like lavender, rosemary, sage, as well as woody plants and ornamental grasses.

I plan on trying out the iron phosphate in the coming weeks. We have a lot of snails in our yard and I like the idea of a natural method of snail control that is safe for the many cats that wander through our garden. I'm hoping this natural pest control will help bring down the numbers to make for a healthier garden.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blue Clematis, Lavender and Pink Foxglove Combination

My clematis was originally in a pot in our front yard in Petaluma. This is the first spring here that the clematis is in the ground and the leaves are growing out quickly already. The clematis is a medium blue color with three to four inch wide flowers when it blooms. It is planted in the front yard on one side of the porch near the stairs against the house winding up a five foot scrolled metal trellis. Nearby are two lavenders right below the front window. Last year the lavenders produced a huge amount of flowers which I collected to dry. Its an impressive sight to see the grey green foliage against the grey house with burgundy trim. Since the lavender and clematis are so close by it should be a very pretty combination. The clematis should be blooming first in spring but I already see arms of lavender growing out of the main bushes in a steady growth spurt. Behind the clematis tucked away in the corner next to the porch are my foxgloves that are slowly growing in. I'm hoping they seeded well there and that eventually we will have the tall pink spires crowding out the corner of the house and producing bundles of tubular bell flowers. The foxgloves in the back flower bed managed to seed a new plant along with the existing plants. I use blue, purple and pink flowers in combination whenever possible in my garden. I'm more for the cooler colors for my favorite flowers but I do have some warmer colors here and there towards the summer months.

So far all the foxgloves are showing growth in the front and back yards; I have a number of lavenders throughout the front and back yards although the lavenders underneath my pink climbing roses are still small and growing slowly while the others are thriving, they came in small pots originally. I only have the one clematis vine, sigh, I want more, many more clematis in my garden. If the passionflower vines ever give out on my front yard trellis I'd love to grow clematis there. The only problem will be choosing one variety from so many beautiful clematis plants.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Salvia Plant in the Sun and the Drooping Cherry Tree

I'm planting some summer bulbs and one I found was a salvia bulb. I've never really used salvia before in my garden and frankly I didn't know it was a bulb, apparently after checking up on salvia there are a few species that have rhizomes or tubers. I'm pretty interested in bulbs so this was new to me. It surprised me to find this bulb so of course I had to have it. This purple salvia bulb is planted near the porch behind the heather bush, between the pink jasmine climbing up the porch railing and the pointy cypress like tree, one of two which are standing guard on either side of the gate. This is a barren area I've had trouble planting in and I am hoping the salvia plant will do the trick to fill the area with some extra color. Its a semi-shady area with a reasonable amount of sun tucked in the corner of the porch and this salvia can take partial shade. I'm eager to see if this salvia will grow well there and can't wait until it blooms in summer.

The drooping cherry tree is starting to bud now as spring is getting closer. This is still a young tree but from everything I've read about them they are a smaller tree of ten to twelve feet in height. I certainly hope so since having a larger tree won't work well for the front yard. I don't want to cover up too much of the Victorian facade as its so beautiful, the garden should compliment it rather than be the star of the property. I've had problems with the cherry tree having infestation of fly larvae, little black larvae that ruin the beautiful leaves on the tree every year. I've read that this is a common infestation for cherry trees. If you don't rid the tree of the first infestation then multiple infestations follow with the result being tattered looking leaves. I tried using Neem which is a natural oil that is supposed to kill them off, unfortunately it really didn't work to get rid of all of the fly larvae. This year we turn to pesticides. I rarely if ever use them in my garden preferring natural means but in this case its the only method that will work. Next garden nursery visit I'm finding something that will work to rid the tree of these pests.

Spring in Eureka is really more like fall weather, the blooming season seems to be delayed a good month or two for all my plants compared to the warmer climate in Petaluma in Sonoma County. Generally the warmer weather of 65 to 70 degrees doesn't kick in until May or June. I don't mind it a bit, I love the cooler coastal weather and my favorite plants do well here. As the weather starts to warm with the coming of spring the bulbs in the front yard are starting to bloom, among them yellow daffodils, peach colored tulips and purple dutch iris. They are forming a lovely pattern surrounding the flower beds and walkway leading up to the front porch. It will take a few more years to achieve the effect I'm working toward in the garden but eventually the colorful bulbs will cascade throughout the front yard with spring color.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Daylily, Calla Lilies and a Barrel of Spring Bulbs

My large wine barrel in the back yard is starting to show signs of life as we get closer to spring. I planted purple windflowers, yellow daffodils and wisley blue in the barrel and the bulbs are starting to come up and bloom. So far a lot of the daffodils are close to blooming with only one in full bloom fighting to stand tall against the rainfall that is happening on and off in the last few weeks. One wisley blue flower so far but more to come. The windflowers are all blooming or close to blooming and close up when its dark and overcast. I'm really liking the windflowers and want to get more of these bulbs for another container I have on the deck near the hot tub.

I planted a purple daylily in the front yard a few weeks ago and am excited to see how it does once it hits summer. I tried planting a yellow daylily in our Petaluma garden and it didn't make it. I'm not sure how well a daylily will do here in Eureka since the other daylily I planted was in prime warm weather country, but I'm hoping it does well in the sunny front yard. This particular lily is such a deep pretty purple color it should work well with the dark fuschia flowers of the rhododendron planted nearby.

The calla lilies are stretching up and unfolding their pristine white blooms under the holly trees. The callas are usually blooming in full by Easter, by then I will have cut some of the blooms for the tall vase in our house. You can always rely on calla lilies to grow and bloom well. I've seen them grow great in shade and grow fairly well in a sunny setting. Calla lilies to me are always a reminder of the Easter season upcoming.

Stumble Upon Toolbar