Paul Peacock - Mr Digwell

We have received several questions for our gardening expert Mr Digwell lately. Here are his answers:

What kind of plant can plant that bunny rabbits don’t eat?

There are lots of rabbit proof plants. My favourites are Astilbe – with their wonderfully coloured flowers, Galanthus (snowdrops) because they are so wonderfully cute and Hydrangeas. Actually the RHS do a list here.

Why are stems on my primrose weak so it flops?

They are too wet, and probably rotting within. You can dig them up and add a little grit to new compost. Dig a large hole (twice the size of the plant, and then plant in 50% compost 50% grit.

How to care for mini lavender plugs?

Keep them frost free, preferably in a cool greenhouse over winter and then plant them next spring. I say this because the soil is far to wet at the moment and they might rot. Don’t over water over the winter.

How to apply slug bait to hanging plants?

Not easy this one! If they are in a hanging basket put a layer of grease to the fixings and they won’t come – but keep renewing it weekly. If on a tree, try grease bands, they seem to work to keep them climbing up.

Mr Digwell gardening cartoon logo

Paul Peacock studied botany at Leeds University, has been the editor of Home Farmer magazine, and now hosts the City Cottage online magazine. An experienced gardener himself, his expertise lies in the world of the edible garden. If it clucks, quacks or buzzes, Paul is keenly interested.

He is perhaps best known as Mr Digwell, the cartoon gardener featured in The Daily Mirror since the 1950s. As Mr Digwell he has just published his book, A Year in The Garden. You can also see more about him on our Mr Digwell information page.

Gardening, How To, Pest Control, Slugs & Snails

Dealing With Slugs And Snails

Usually one of the few benefits of a cold, snowy winter is that it helps to kill off pesky slugs and snails. Unfortunately, this year we have had such a mild winter that the little pests have thrived, hit by nothing more than the odd day of rain and very occasional light frost.

As most gardeners know, slugs and snails can be utterly detrimental to your plants and flowers and must be dealt with. An easy method is simply to keep your plants out of the slugs’ reach. You can do this by using hanging baskets or keeping indoor plants. However, this is not always practical or desirable.

There are several methods of dealing with slugs. Covering your plants with netting will help to prevent slugs and snails as well as birds from attacking them. It is important to keep checking them however, in case any slugs have managed to slip through and to make sure that the plants do not get caught up in the netting.

Salt is extremely effective at killing them; however, sprinkling a barrier of salt around your plants may prevent slugs from attacking them, but if it seeps into the soil and is taken up by the plants and flowers themselves, salt can damage those too.

 A tested and safe repellent or slug killer may be a better solution and these are readily available. They are often in pellet form and should be scattered around the plants. The slugs will consume them and perish while your plants remain healthy and safe. Such products are very carefully controlled to be safe for use when children are present or nearby, but it is always best to check if they are suitable for use around edible plants, should you wish to use them near any crops.

An alternative method to pellet-based slug bait and killers is the slug trap. These are fitted into the ground near the plants or anywhere where you frequently see slugs and snails, and the base is filled with beer or yeast. The slugs are attracted by this and fall into the trap, keeping your plants protected.