The garden bed has been getting pretty bare as the cool weather plants are taking their last gasps. I want to throw in a whole lot of lettuce seedlings and directly sow some beans to grow up the tomato stakes as I transition from legumes to solanaceae.
Come High Summer when the tomatoes go in, the weather is going to quickly turn things crispy, delicate seedlings will fry!
Although not considered traditional companion plants, they will act as a
They shelter seedlings from excessive sun, reduce weed competition and prevent erosion.
The beans will protect the young tomatoes as they grow up their supports. On the ground established lettuces will shade the roots, so constant mulching won’t be necessary, and more importantly will protect the true tomato companions that will only just be ready for transplant when weather is getting hot – marigolds, basil, amaranth, dandelions, chives.
Unfortunately my plan was brutally cut off at the ground and silvery tracks betrayed the criminal. Soon it will be too hot for
the slimey ones to show their heads, but for now they are having a field day on delicious, sappy new spring growth. What’s a girl to do?! I’m yet to find herbs that repel snails (they just live in them!) and coffee grounds just don’t cut it. Sharp calcium rich egg shells and crispy seaweed help, but these snails are seriously out of control! There is not enough beer in the world to drown their enthusiasm!
Build a fortress! Take the idea of the juice bottle greenhouse and bring it to the garden bed! All we need is a minor modification, keep the bottle top on and drill some tiny ventilation holes to prevent the
nasties crawling in. Bury it deep enough to protect against cutworm as well! Only 1 is needed for a lettuce until it is established, but for beans they can be stacked 3-4 high until the stem is thick enough to hold its own. Just put a short stick inside the greenhouse for it to climb and when you remove the bottle simply tie this to the taller stake. The trapped heat will also help the beans and lettuces thrive!
Sharp eggshells deter snails and slugs, but also add calcium to the soil, available for next years crop
As a rule of thumb I only harvest my lettuce when it has more than 6 leaves so I don’t take too many of its “solar panels”. Following this logic when your seedling can afford to loose one or two leaves to the snails, you can take the bottle off!
Stack the bottles as high as you need, wait for stems to be thick enough that they can’t be felled with a single chomp!
Check out my next post to see how I have snail proofed the nursery!