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Mystery Weed, Slugs & Snails the Movie!

I’m hoping someone can help identify a weed troubling a reader. I’m stumped! And the people at Envii are dipping their toe into the horror film business with a short about slugs and snails.

Mystery Weed

Josephine Bretherton from the North West of England has a mystery maroon weed growing on her allotment amongst the potatoes. It’s about 15 inches high now. Nobody knows what it is and she wonders if it is edible.

My guess is that it might be a self seeded brassica, perhaps a red cabbage that has crossed with something, judging from its looks. Anyway – if you recognise this mystery maroon weed, please pop your answer in the comments box below.

Mystery Weed – Can you help?

Slugs & Snails the Movie!

Slug Ignoring Copper Barrier

Slug Ignoring Copper Barrier

Back in January I posted about the government’s forthcoming ban of metaldehyde slug pellets. Happily there are alternatives available to gardeners so we can keep on top of these pests.

As I also wrote in that post, not all the slug controls on the market are effective. The RHS undertook a study of five popular organic home slug control methods and found them to not be effective.

Copper tape, horticultural grit, pine bark mulch, wool pellets and egg shells were all shown to make no difference when applied to lettuce, with gastropods inflicting the same damage to those treated with the remedies as without.

Well the people at Envii make an organic slug control method called Feed & Fortify that uses diatomaceous earth to naturally protect plants from slugs, snails and other small pests. It also contains iron silicates to improve soil fertility and maximise plant growth.

They decided to replicate the RHS study on the slug barriers and also put their Feed & Fortify to the test. The video answers the ‘fortify’ question (spoiler alert!) it works.

The feed part of the name – the Iron Silicates – might benefit from a little explanation.

Iron for Plants

Iron is an important micro-nutrient for plants. A sort of plant vitamin. They only need a very small amount, but that small amount is crucial to healthy growth. Iron is utilised in the production of chlorophyll which is the engine that converts carbon dioxide to carbon and oxygen and feeds the plant as well as giving it the green colour.
A lack of iron will show itself as yellowing on the leaves and a sickly plant.

See Chemistry and mineralogy of Fe‐containing oxides and layer silicates in relation to plant available iron


Silicon is a common element that aids plant growth and quality, photosynthesis, transpiration and enhances plant resistance to stresses such as drought. (see this article from Greenhouse Management) Plants grown in commercial potting composts – patio pots, hanging baskets etc. – are most likely to be in need of supplemental silicon.

And now, our main feature! Kia-Ora  will be available in the interval.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
12 comments on “Mystery Weed, Slugs & Snails the Movie!
  1. Paul Corbett (Pescador) says:

    Weed looks like Red Amaranth

  2. John M says:

    The “weed” looks very similar to plants that someone used to grow on one of our plots. They told me it was a crop commonly grown in India, similar to spinach. They’ve left now, so I cannot enquire further.
    But a little surfing has come up with these possibilities. Red Orach (Atriplex hortensis var. Rubra) or Red Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus)

  3. Christine Featherstone says:

    Definitely Red Orach. Once you’ve got it… you’ve always got it! Readily seeds and spreads. Can be eaten raw in salads, or cooked like spinach. We have loads of it! Luckily it’s quite tasty!

  4. Snowdrops says:

    Yep I was going to suggest red orach

  5. Rowland Wells says:

    Slug movie very informative because slug control is one of the most important issues for the home gardener

    I’ve been trying many remedies and advice by other members on this site – the latest is garlic spray that does seem to be working although the feed & Fortify product will be worth trying

    Not sure on price comparisons to what I’m using but if it proves to work then its worth every penny spent the only thing I would be concerned about is how long it works and does the rain have any effect on it? [need to go on their website]

    Talking about iron feed I can remember going to the steel works at Corby to collect a product called basic slag that I used to deliver to farmers it was only a small bag but very heavy.

    But yes, once again that was well worth watching and many thanks John for showing us that.

  6. Gwyn says:

    Slugs, Have you tried coffee grinds it’s normally free, beer.

  7. Barbara says:

    I’ve heard that porridge oats sprinkled round plants attracts snails and slugs and dehydrates them. I tried it and the oats disappeared and the plants remained. And I presume the birds would still be able to enjoy the snails without any side effects!,

  8. Derek says:

    Feed & Fortify’s main ingredient is given as diatomaceous earth:the stuff deposited by diatoms in ancient sea beds. I have tried it to kill flea beetles; it works by cutting them and the blighter’s bleed to death. Does work BUT the very fine powder is prone to blowing off in the wind and will wash off in the rain. So I do beleive this stuff will work with slugs but you will need a lot of it to do the job. I bought mine by 50Kg bag from an importer

  9. Patricia Hill says:

    Diatomaceaous earth is a powder available on the internet in tubs of various quantities and has been used for several years now as a potent ant and crawling insect killer and is very effective, as it scratches and dries out the ants and when added to a nest will kill all the ants within a space of 48 hours.
    We at Torbay Organic Gardening Society have been using it to kill ants as an alternative to the toxic poisons contained in conventional insecticides. It is the basis for Growing Success Termin8 and Doff organically acceptable ant killer. It is clearly more cost-effective to buy it in tubs off the internet.

  10. Wendy Mantin says:

    Last year I read in the RHS magazine about a product called Strulch (apparently used at The Eden Project) and I would encourage anyone to look it up. It’s a straw-based mulch which you put down in a reasonably thick layer and amazingly my slug problem is now very slight right across the allotment. A few strawberries were hit, presumably where slugs crept up from around the roots, but these beasties seem to avoid travelling over the mulch so I had a great crop. I only have a courtyard at home so haven’t tried Strulch in pots of eg hostas but feel confident that it would work, given the usual caveats. Strulch is only sold in a few places eg The Place for Plants in East Bergholt Suffolk, but I know it’s also available online. I hope this helps.

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