I was going to write an article on slugs and snails but Pippa Greenwood (www.pippagreenwood.com) has beaten me to it! Why dont you take part in my poll on what your favourite way to get rid of slugs and snails? Click here for poll:
So here is her article……..
In many areas of the UK there has been quite a bit of rain in the last few days and although that’s great for those drought-stressed plants, you can be sure it will also bring out the slugs and snails ….and as these pests just love soft, new growth on vegelatbel s and ornamentals, you may need to take some precautions :
‘Barrier’ controls: Create a barrier around each plant, or along the row. Things that work well include : pine needles, crushed eggshells (but you’d need to run an omelette factory!), crushed sea-shells, soot, coco-shell (the stuff you buy in large bags as a garden mulch), or get hold of some ‘oyster-shell’, its often available from animal feed suppliers and is sold for a supplement for laying birds such as hens or geese. Its basically crushed shell, and works out far, far cheaper than the shells you buy in garden centres . I always use this and it works brilliantly.
Whatever you choose, use it to create a complete circle (not just a ring, around the base of the plant/along the row, making sure that no lower leaves on the plants act as bridges across which the slugs or snails could cross. The circle needs to go right up to the base of the plant – the worst slug offenders spend about 80% of their lives underground, so could easily pop up from below ground and attack if the barrier was not complete.
Copper : Copper is not something slugs or snails like to cross. You can buy copper rings (expensive but long lasting), copper paint (not sure what for!), copper impregnated mulch-matting (quite pricey but works well and lasts many years), or copper tape. The tape is especially suitable for sticking around the rim of a pot (its generally self-adhesive), you could also use it around the top of the vertical edge of a raised bed, but the soil within the bed would need to be slug/snail free or else you’d be locking the pests in as well as out !
Biological control : A fantastic pathogenic nematode which is only harmful to slugs as it works underground. As slugs are based above ground, they’re not damaged, unfortunately! Extremely useful, especially for preventing slug problems with potato crops ie underground crops, but also helps to clear an area of soil. Pricey but also very effective.
‘Green’ chemicals: I’m not going to suggest you use the classic chemical-based slug pellets, they’re just too awful, but there are several ‘green’ or organic slug controls on the market which have a pretty good track record.
What do I use? : just the oyster shell, and the nematode if things are bad ! Its also worth going on early evening ie dusk time hunts, especially after it has rained or you’ve just watered, its amazing how many you’ll be able to collect. …and I suggest that if you’ve had a lot of rain, you get going with slug and snail controls as soon as possible!
Happy “slugless” gardening! Andrew