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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 22 February, 2020

Bio-insecticide Supernemos: 'Sometimes GIYing is not for the faint hearted'

In a demise worthy of the cheesiest horror movie the nematodes then eat the wire worms from the inside out, writes Michael Kelly.

Michael Kelly Grower

THE GOOD NEWS is that I’m done moaning about the weather. Yes, it’s the first day of May as I write this and I am sitting inside while the wind howls and the rain falls outside and I am contemplating lighting the stove.

But will I complain? No I will not. Let the weather do, what the weather does. I’m cracking on and promise not to mention it any more.

So, things have certainly gone up a gear in the last week.  One could no longer describe the veg patch activities as ‘tinkering’. We’re not quite at peak workload yet, but it’s certainly busy. And you know what? I am absolutely loving it.

The veg patch

Outside in the veg patch, I got the last of my potatoes in last week – a little later then normal, it’s true – but at least they are in now. The early potatoes have finally popped reluctantly out of the soil and I rewarded their efforts by quickly covering them over again.

Using a ridge hoe, I pull soil up on them or ‘earth them up’ as it’s known. This encourages them to grow longer stems and therefore more potatoes. I completely forgot to order seed potatoes for my main crop sowing this year – so I grabbed a few bags of some very common varieties that I have never sown before (like Maris Piper and King Edward) in a well known garden centre that will remain nameless. Hope they do ok.

I also sowed the first of two sowings of peas direct in the soil in a shallow trench. I sowed about a 3m row which is more than enough for now. In early June I will do another sowing of a similar size which will give a later, second harvest.

The potting shed

In the potting shed, there’s almost no space left on the benches, so full are they with seed trays and pots. That’s always a good sign.

This week I sowed two vegetables that will only really come in to their own next year – leeks and purple sprouting broccoli. I try to grow around 60 leeks. If this seems like a lot, bear in mind that leeks will stand happily in the ground right through the winter and spring.

Amazingly, we’re still eating the ones we sowed this time last year, despite the fact that they were buried under 2 foot of snow in early March (sorry about the weather reference). That must be some kind of a record.

Somehow, purple sprouting broccoli got forgotten last year, so I’m eager to make sure we have a decent few plants this year. They’ve a very long growing season and take up space in the garden for 9 or 10 months, but I think they are worth it considering they will be cropping when there’s bugger all else to eat next March or April.

The Basics – Wire Worm

Wire worm is the larvae stage of the click beetle and is the bane of my potato growing. The little worms burrow in to your potatoes and create a network of tunnels – a reality that typically only reveals itself after you’ve peeled the spud.

The wire worm stays at larvae stage for up to five years, at which stage it graduates to being a beetle and then leaves your spuds alone.  I wonder what it eats then?

Anyway, I would say I lost a third of my potato crop to them last year, and I’ve decided that it’s just not on. Wireworm can be a particular issue if your veg patch is surrounded by grass where the click beetle will lay it’s eggs (with the grass providing a good source of food for the larvae). Unfortunately organic growing is particularly conducive to wireworm since the worms can survive using hummus as their only food source.

Organic control options are limited. Turning the soil to allow the birds (particularly crows) at them will help. You can also try trapping them – the wire worm loves a good spud, and you can use their spudlove against them. Cut some spuds in half and bury them one foot deep in the soil, remove a week later and you should have trapped some wireworms.

I suspect however that’s not going to deal with the wire worm population I seem to have, so this year I am going to try the bio-insecticide Supernemos. These are microscopic nemotodes that you spray in to the soil which the wireworm (and many other garden nasties like vine weevil and leatherjackets, but not slugs alas) feast on.

In a demise worthy of the cheesiest horror movie the nematodes then eat them from the inside out. Sometimes, GIYing is not for the faint hearted.

Recipe of the Week – Borlotti Bean, Parsley and Bread Soup 

Though the title could do with some work, I love this recipe from The Kitchen Orchard by Natalia Conroy (Ebury).  It’s a one-pot veggie wonder that’s crammed with healthy vegetables, herbs and pulses and as an added bonus uses up stale bread too.


  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 red onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 heads celery, outer branches removed, hearts roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 5 tbsp tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bunch cavolo nero, chopped
  • 500g cooked borlotti beans, cooking liquor reserved
  • ¾ loaf stale white bread or ciabatta, crust removed, cut into 2.5cm thick wedges
  • Plenty of good olive oil
  • 600ml boiling water
  • Salt and black pepper


In a large heavy-based pot, fry the onions, garlic, carrots, celery and parsley uncovered in the olive oil for about one hour over a low heat.

When these are entirely soft, add the tomatoes and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes. Stir in the cavolo nero and set aside.

Pour half the beans with half their cooking liquid into a food processor. Pulse until smooth, then add to the vegetables. Strain the other half of the beans and add them to the soup.

Lay the bread gently on top of the soup to form a sort of lid, then cover with plenty of olive oil. Pour the boiling water over the bread and leave the soup to cook very gently for 10 minutes, then leave to sit off the heat for a further 10 minutes. The bread should be completely soft.

Gently break up the bread lid and fold it into the rest of the soup. Season if need be, and serve with some more olive oil on top – the soup should be thick enough that you can stand up a spoon in it.

Michael Kelly is founder of GIY and GROW HQ. The GIY TV series GROW COOK EAT is on Wednesdays on RTE 1, presented by Michael Kelly and Karen O’Donohoe,

Click here for more GIY tips and recipes.


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About the author:

Michael Kelly  / Grower

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