Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Evil Weevil

I've had a tubful of strawberry plants in the garden for three years now which has done very well. Early this spring, however, I noticed they were looking pretty unhealthy, so I thought I'd repot them, take them to the allotment where there's space for them to give me new runners, and replace them in the garden with some new everbearing 'Albion' strawbs I bought.

Look what I found when I dug them up.

The roots - or what was left of them - were riddled with vine weevil grubs; several per plant. These nasty grubs eat roots and can kill plants - and apparently strawberries are one of their favourites! They grow up into black beetles that just do minor damage to leaves - and go off and lay more eggs of course. We now suspect it might be vine weevils in this same area of the garden that killed a favourite shrub a while back!

So we ordered some vine weevil killer by Nemasys (fairly widely available from mail-order garden catalogues or Amazon). It's a biological control - a pack of live microscopic wormy creatures - nematodes - who eat larger grubs such as these vine weevil grubs! (You can get different types of nematodes for different pests too.)

There are fifty million nematodes in this here pack! You have to keep them in the fridge and use them within a couple of weeks, when the ground is moist. Then you mix them into eight big watering cans, water them all over the garden (this pack treats 100sqm! it's tricky to spread them that thin!), and then add more water on top to make sure they reach the soil.

I did it yesterday and phew, how I wished for a hose to do the final watering! After lugging watering cans around for nearly an hour my arm was exhausted! Maybe I need more exercise...

I'm glad to see it's raining this morning - hopefully that will help settle my wormy new guests in and give them an appetite.

Sadly I was too late to save the strawberries!


Sue Garrett said...

These are a real nuisance in containers less so for plants in open ground. We once found lots in a tub of plants and I'm afraid I was a bit criel. I left them on a black polythene sheet and the blackbird came and gobbled them up!

I guess it's no worse than setting nematodes on them though!

Anonymous said...

i couldnt help ut think how much my chooks would have loved them..infact maybe that is why they furiusly attack my strawberry beds when they escape!! We are putting up the tools here in nz ready for winter. Summer was in a word, wet! Lots of rotting plants and tomato blight. On the other hand nothibg died of drought! Hope you have a goog season on your allotment, I find allotment life fasinating..must have watched too much of "The good Life" growing up!1
cheers from Cherry

Nome said...

Hehe, yes, I did pick some out and feed them to the birds. Not cruel at all - just aiding nature's natural cycle!

Thanks for dropping in, Cherry! Strange to think winter's on its way on the other side of the world! The rain, however, is the same here right now - and just after they announced a hosepipe ban! :)

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