4 top tips for combating slugs this year

I have a very laid back tendency towards my garden – if things don’t do well well ‘it was not meant to be’ and I generally have quite a hands off approach believing that plants need to survive for themselves rather than be molly-coddled.  But the one thing that drives me bonkers is finding new plants, or baby plants, or seedlings that I’ve sown eaten by slugs!!  They love fresh new growth, and can decimate a plant over night!

I once read that of someone who had carried out an experiment on Snails in her garden!  Apologies for not remembering who.  She collected a number of snails in her garden and then painted nail varnish on their shells.  She then took the snails away from her garden and distributed them in various places, at various distances.  And guess what?  they only made their way back home!

There are various ways to combat slugs and starting now, today on Valentines Day will get you ahead of the game.  As right now baby slugs are being born, their parents have been breeding in their hidey-holes and about now is when they will start to appear in the dead of night!  There are many Garden Myths about slug trap techniques  but here’s my Top 5 Tips:

  1. Encourage other wildlife into your garden.  The slug has many predators: birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs and some beetles so by encouraging these into our gardens will help with natural predation.  To do that, don’t be too tidy and leave some scruffier parts for them to inhabit.  Provide a water source and a wide variety of planting to offer a variety of food and pollen sources.
  2. Protect new growth on plants and repel the slugs from them!  Be it barriers or materials to dissuade this can give you a feel-good feeling of action.  Pots, gravel, copper rings, egg shells, coffee granules, cornflour are all suggestions to try that different gardeners will swear by.
  3. Nighttime recces with a torch and a bucket – can you pick up a slug?  I find it hard to in my bare hands but I’m fine wearing gloves.  Slugs and snails are active at night time so forays outside with a torch mean you can literally pick them up and remove them – its totally up to you what you do with them next!
  4. Traps – if you’re organic use beer or salt to lure them to their death or if chemicals don;t bother you use slug pellets.  but here’s a trick – use a tall, slender jar (one that had olives in is a good shape and size), put the slug pellets in and lay it on its side on the soil under planting.  That way it still creates a trap for the slugs but no other birds and animals can accidentally get trapped.  Do it today and have your own Valentine’s Day Massacre!

Happy slug hunting!