Did you know that cabbage plants release a chemical which is very unpleasant for slugs and therefore the slug will leave the cabbage alone.

Attack of the slugs
April 2023

Wow! What a difference in temperature from last year March when I wrote that March 2022 had been very mild and dry. But this year we had this pretty ‘cool’ cold snap mid March and lots of rain later on! For two nights the temperature dropped to -11 °C and when we left at 8 am to go to work, it was still -10 °C, so we had to come up with a plan to prevent the chicken’s water from freezing over. Solution: arrange bricks around a tea light with an old, water filled frying pan on top of the bricks. And it worked; the hens were happy and had slightly tepid water. I suppose it kept them warm too.

He’s managed, however, to become top of the flock. And what’s even better is that he listens really well to his name. Especially when my husband calls him, he comes running with all 8 hens in tow. Really handy for if we want to move them from one area to another. Apparently the maximum flock a rooster can manage is around 6 – 8 hens and we’ve got 10 hens in total. Two black ones are always somewhere else, but the 6 Sussexes (white) and the other 2 Decibels (black) really like Harvey and so are always close to where he is. They are the clever ones as Harvey makes sure that every hen has enough to eat and is protected from predators.

Nature keeps amazing me by how well it evolved to deal with intruders or pests. Did you know that cabbage plants release a chemical which is very unpleasant for slugs and therefore the slug will leave the cabbage alone. My own little cabbage plant survived because of this: as you can see in the picture it has only one nibbled leaf while the rest of the plant is fine. I bet the slug thought the better of it and left the plant alone.
I read this in a book called ‘What your food ate’ and the book is about how plants, including the fruit and vegetables we eat, release compounds called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are substances which plants produce to protect themselves against pests, but also to protect itself against bacterial attack or fungal attacks. The book further explains that routine use of pesticides undermines this mechanism and that the plants don’t need to produce these chemicals. But here’s the thing though, certain phytochemicals have also been found to be strong antioxidants and can even prevent disease in the humans eating these plants. So, the book theorises that by the routine use of pesticides, us humans potentially ingest a lot less disease-busting phytochemicals. So, organic fruit and vegetables may have some extra health benefits to us as well being less damaging to wildlife. That’s a very interesting theory in my opinion and I am hoping to learn more about this during the rest of my Natural Science study.

There is a list called ‘the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen’ which tells you what fruit and vegetables are most heavily sprayed and which ones aren’t. Strawberries, spinach and kale are the top 3 of the ones which you better buy organic, if you can. Avocados, sweet corn and pineapple are not so bad, so fine if not organic. Thankfully, strawberries and kale are very easy to grow in Scotland, so if you have a bit of garden, then growing these yourselves will give you the phytochemicals you need!

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