BRIAN KIDD: Saving your beans from the peril of slugs

Do not let slugs destroy your runner beans
Do not let slugs destroy your runner beans

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Runner beans are causing a bit of a stir this week.

Several readers have written or sent e-mails to tell me they area having problems.

The first was from a new allotment holder at Westbourne.

Leaves were sent in and only the veins of the leaves were left intact.

The problem was slugs and snails.

There were no signs of the pests during the day but after rain one night the whole row was shredded.

The slugs had come through the allotment fence from long grass growing in the area of land just outside the allotment site.

To prevent this happening again, it would be a good idea to water the area below the fence with Slug Clear liquid slug killer.

The recommendations on the container state this product must not be used on edible crops. Okay, you aren’t going to eat the grass, are you?

One application watered on correctly will solve the problem straight away.

You may have some of this in your shed and you already know how good it is – but it is no longer available.

A brand new organic slug and snail killer has been introduced by Dof though.

It is only £2.99 for a litre green plastic container and is poured through the hole in the top. The pests cannot cross the line of the gel.

I am giving this a trial.

I found it at Keydell and have already put it round the base of a row of beans.

I sometimes get letters from gardeners who suddenly have a complete failure.

The runner bean seeds germinate well but as the plants start to climb, they die off.

On investigation, this is because the bean seeds have been saved year after year from the same stock and the scenario is even worse if the runner beans are always growing in the same place.

To get over this problem, it’s a good idea to buy new seeds once in every three years.

I never save my own seeds because we eat all the beans and there are none left to produce seeds!

Germination is the next problem ­ – the beans don’t come up.

The reasons are numerous. Too dry? Old seeds? Crows and pigeons?

The answer is to pre chit the seeds before planting them.

Take a lunch box, put in a sheet of wet absorbent kitchen paper, pour the seeds in and close the top of the box.

Keep it in the dark and look every day to see if a little root has appeared. Keep the paper moist.

Once the roots are visible, put each seed into inset cells with Universal compost and plant the seedlings out when they are four inches high.

The birds are not interested in the seedlings but slugs and snails are.

If roots don’t appear, the seeds are not viable, don’t blame me if they don’t grow.

The seeds were no good.