Gardening Tips > June > Battle of the slugs!

Battle of the slugs!

Slugs can cause real destruction in the garden, eating holes in leaves, stems, flowers, tubers and bulbs. Particular favourites of slugs are Hostas, Delphiniums, Dahlias, Gerberas, Sweet Peas and Tulips and it can be difficult to grow these plants if you have a slug problem in your garden. In the vegetable patch, peas, beans, lettuce, celery and potato tubers can be attacked by slugs. However, there is a lot you can do to prevent damage.

Slug damage on a Brunnera leaf

Slug damage on a Brunnera leaf

Cultural/organic

  • Good garden husbandry can help control slugs and snails. Frequent soil cultivation will expose eggs and adults to the elements and any hunting predators such as birds and frogs. Remove fallen leaves in autumn and winter so birds can feed on any exposed slug eggs.
  • Encourage wildlife into your garden, such as birds, frogs, toads or hedgehogs who will eat the slugs. Add a pond to your garden to introduce amphibians. Leave small holes under fences to allow hedgehogs to roam freely. Add nest boxes and bird tables and offer a mix of food. Grow a range of trees, shrubs and climbers, or a mixed hedge to provide both food and shelter for wildlife.
  • Create a barrier of gravel, egg shells or put Westland Slug Barrier Copper Tape around vulnerable plants, and always try to place potted plants prone to slug and snail damage on sharp gravel rather than a smooth surface. Use Vitax Slug Gone wool pellets which form a felt-like mat that make it difficult for the slug to travel across.
Hostas surrounded by gravel to prevent slugs

Hostas surrounded by gravel to prevent slugs

  • Avoid displaying plants prone to damage in one area together, as the slugs and snails will simply move from one plant to the other. Disperse plants like Hostas around the garden.
  • Sink shallow dishes filled with beer into the soil – the beer will attract the slugs and snails. Check and empty on a regular basis.
  • Check plants on a summer evening and gently pick off any slugs and snails you see, collect them in a container and take them to a field or hedgerow away from your garden!
  • Alternatively, apply a ready-to-use spray such as Grazers G2 Slugs & Snails. This spray is harmless to people, pets and the planet and is absorbed into the foliage. Another organic product is Neudorff Sluggo, pellets that contain ferric (iron) phosphate which occurs naturally in the environment and will enrich the soil around your plants. The slug die without leaving any slime trails or the need to collect or dispose of dead slugs.

Biological (using predatory organisms to combat pests)

  • Solely targeting slugs, nematodes are perfectly harmless to children, pets and wildlife and can be used safely near food crops. Dwelling in the soil, the nematodes enters the slug while it is below ground, infecting it with bacteria. The slug stops eating your plants within a few days and dies within a week.  The nematodes feed off the decomposing slug and reproduce, creating a new generation that will infect more slugs. Dilute microscopic nematodes in water and apply to infected areas between May and September. Apply in the evening and when the soil is moist and warm.

Chemical

  • Thinly scatter a small amount of granules such as Bayer Garden Slug & Snail Killer over the soil around the base of vulnerable plants. Apply on a warm, moist evening when slugs are most likely to appear. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before applying any chemical control.
Slug pellets near a lupin

Slug pellets near a Lupin

 

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