The Stopwatch Gardener

A gardening blog from Sheila M. Averbuch

Winter clematis comes forth — thanks, nematodes

November4

Click for larger imageBecause I get so little time in the garden, I spend many hours staring out the window at what I’d like to be doing, while I’m deep in the realities of feeding children/washing dishes/writing at the PC. If you’re the same, it’s well worth crafting the tableau you see out the window. It’s a bit of a cheat, since you’re focusing on a single garden snapshot from one perspective, but a really satisfying view is priceless when it’s your only access to the garden for days or weeks at a time.

I’ve been working on my view from the kitchen sink and it’s coming along, but since we reorganised the house, our kitchen table looks right onto the sorry clematis I mentioned in this earlier blog post about my rose hedge. The winter flowering Clematis Cirrhosa “Jingle Bells” has disappointed three years running and I’d given up on it, until I finally acted on what my eyes had been telling me for ages — only slugs could be responsible for its stripped-bare stems. Over summer I opted for the Nemaslug multipack of beneficial nematodes as a biological control for slugs; the nematodes immediately made the slugs lose their appetite before finally finishing them off quietly, without any of the mess or environmental dodginess of slug pellets. Incidentally I’ve been fascinated to see the US gardening media speak mostly of the pernicious nematodes, with very little said about these beneficial nematodes which are so popular in Britain. My UK supplier is Green Gardener, although there are many others.

And wow, do they work. I’ve just received my third of installment of nematodes and will douse the area again now before winter. It’s still clearly showing the effects of slug damage, but the clematis has sprung to life, with dozens of flower heads and regrowing foliage. If I can just get out of the house and release my nematode friends before they pass their expiry date, there’s hope for my dinner table garden view this winter.

If you’re looking for excellent advice about crafting views out the window, the best source I’ve found is the venerable Reader’s Digest Good Ideas for Your Garden — widely available on Amazon.

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4 Comments to

“Winter clematis comes forth — thanks, nematodes”

  1. On November 5th, 2009 at 11:38 am Sylvia (England) Says:

    I have problems with snails on my clematis, unfortunately nematodes don’t work on snails so slug pellets are my option (I don’t have time to handpick). I don’t have any children or pets and I spread them very thinly which is all that is needed. Now if I could find the time and a fine day for a good clear up, I will have less slugs and snails next year!

    I also compose my garden around the view from the house windows, especially the winter flowering plants. I also consider the view from the car as I park up each night.

    Best wishes Sylvia

  2. On January 20th, 2010 at 3:03 pm Cool Garden Things Says:

    Wow! This is great info…I am very interested and excited about nematodes and was not aware that they are an effective slug control agent! Thank you!!
    GartenGrl

  3. On January 20th, 2010 at 3:47 pm The StopWatch Gardener Says:

    Thanks GartenGirl – as Sylvia has noted, they’re not effective on snails, but great for slugs. Thanks for leaving your comment!

  4. On September 23rd, 2011 at 7:51 am Colette Says:

    I’ve used crushed eggshells and sand for slugs, so you might want to try them.

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