Metaldehyde slug pellets banned

An announcement from DEFRA has banned metaldehyde slug pellets from Spring 2020.  Metaldehyde poses an unacceptable risk to birds and mammals, its role in reducing hedgehog, amphibian and bird populations, poisoned by consuming contaminated slugs or pellets, has been well documented. It is also toxic to pets.

Although not a factor in the decision making, the ban will also stop farmers from creating widespread pollution of rivers and freshwaters with these toxic pellets. Only those using permanent greenhouses will be permitted to continue using metaldehyde pellets (where birds cannot easily venture).

If you have to resort to slug pellets use those that contain ferric phosphate which will degrade harmlessly in the soil.  Use them sparingly, only 4 or 5 pellets per plant, and only occasionally. Note however using this method means slugs will tend to go underground to die so there will be little evidence on the surface.

A number of alternative slug and snail barriers, from egg shells to hair, gypsum powder and copper tape are often suggested but only very wide and thick copper tape works. The thin products sold in garden centres doesn’t contain enough copper. A barrier of gypsum powder or chopped up young brambles also seems to do the job, but definitely not egg shells (unless you want to help snails make their own shells stronger by eating the egg shells, which might distract them from your plants).

Alternatively go hunting after dark using a torch to find them. Best of all, create a pond and encourage frogs and toads to do the eradication for you.




February Seasonal Tips


After a month or two of relative quiet in the garden, jobs can now begin again in earnest and we can look forward to Spring not far away.

Buy your seed potatoes now and get them chitting in old egg boxes, especially the First Earlies which will be ready for planting around late March and harvesting in June. In light warm soils, first early potatoes can be planted at the end of February/early March. If there is a mild spell, broad beans can be sown now in open ground. It’s also a good time to plant shallots and garlic.

If not already done now is the time to prepare the ground ready for the onion bed – this can be in the same place for a number of years. A good way to plant the sets is through weed matting or quilt which is pegged down and which helps to keep the bed free of weeds.

Indoors, or in the greenhouse, early salad crops of lettuce and spring onion may be sown as well as indoor tomatoes, and radishes and carrots can be sown under cloches. Fuchsias which have been overwintered should be cut back hard and sprayed with water to encourage new growth.

Outside there’s work to be done in generally tidying up dead foliage, pruning late flowering clematis down to the lowest pair of buds; cut back previously pruned wisteria to two or three buds.When snowdrops have finished flowering it’s a good time to lift an divide the clumps and replant in smaller groups.


If you have not already done so

Sow sweet peas indoors or in the greenhouse, either singly in 5” root training tubes, or no more than 6 seeds to a 5” pot. Do not soak the seed and chipping is not necessary. Plant no more than 1/4” or 5mm deep in coarse multipurpose compost. Do not compact but water with a fine rose. Protect against mice and slugs. Once germination has taken place move the seedlings to a cold frame with as much light as possible to avoid them getting drawn and spindly. Also keep dry after the first watering until well established. Nip out the tips once 2 or 3 pairs of leaves have formed to encourage stronger side shoots and grow one of these on if you intend to exhibit the flowers.


From the Pumpkin Patch

The Summer Holidays are over but the veg garden is still going strong. This is my first attempt at growing pumpkins for Halloween and the weather must have been ideal this year. Planted the seeds back in June and when I cut the leaves back last week this is what I found! All that rain has resulted in some rapid growth. There are only two pumpkins but they are whoppers. They are a bit pale but hopefully now the leaves aren’t covering them they will start to turn a lovely orange. I’m not sure if they will grow any more but I will take my bathroom scales out and weigh them soon. I’ve put them on roof tiles so they won’t rot and put Panda there for scale!




The 125th Annual Show

Chairman’s Summer Message

The Society’s 125th Show will take place on Saturday 28 July 2018 in the grounds of The Stoke Poges School. This an amazing milestone so let us all work together to make it as successful and enjoyable as ever!

Earl Howe and the Countess have accepted our invitation to present the Cups and Trophies. There is a new Trophy presented by Edward Guinness C.V.O., specifically for 16 to 30 year olds, and he is hoping to be able to present it himself.

Many thanks to all those who supplied plants and cakes and who came to buy at the Plant Sale, which raised nearly £1,000 to help cover the cost of the Show. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the Co-op and its members for a generous contribution of £1,638.04 towards the cost of this year’s Show.

Whatever the weather between now and then, I hope everyone will have something to exhibit in the Show; and, also, that we will all encourage our friends and neighbours to look in their gardens and allotments to see what there is that is worthy of being exhibited in the Show. We may be surprised to find things that are ready at the right time.

Entries can come from wider afield up to a 50 mile radius, so if you know keen gardeners, please tell them about the Show, let them know that they can see the schedule on our website,

and enter online. For further information contact Pat Rofe on 01753 662695 or email

Also, please spread the word about the children’s classes, the art, crafts, home economics, photographic and other classes, there is sure to be something in the schedule that appeals.

Janet Cottrell, Chief Steward for the Show, has provided further information. As she has said, the Show doesn’t just happen, we need volunteers to help make the event as memorable and smooth running,  as in previous years. If you have time to spare and would like to help in any way, please get in touch with me on or 01753 648040 or contact Jon Homan on or 01753 662166