Whatever your standard of gardening is, nothing is more exasperating than finding that those vegetables or plants you’ve tenderly nurtured all season have been munched to oblivion by a hungry slug or snail. Even if you’re the most vigilant of gardeners, it’s quite easy to wake up one morning and find that your hostas or lettuce have been wiped out overnight by these slimy pests.
There are lots of different methods if not to completely eliminate these slimy munchers, then certainly to significantly reduced their numbers!
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Slug pellets remain one of the most effective methods of control for slugs and snails.
Make sure you read the on packet instructions and follow accordingly, if your garden is used by pets or wildlife, then you may want to use a liquid version instead.
Don't use them so excessively that you have a crusty blue layer around your plants. February or early in March is a good time to use them before the slug and snail breeding season starts.
Create a circle of something sharp around your plants. Crushed egg shell is one option (and it’s also good for the soil) as is sharp gravel or crushed shells. But do keep an eye on how effective this is as some intrepid slugs have been known to slime on over!
Copper rings are another effective method of slug and snail control. Available from most garden centres, a copper ring or copper tape can be placed around a plant and when a slug attempts to cross it, it creates a reaction similar to an electric shock.
As an alternative, you could also try copper coins around the plant but make sure there’s no way across such as a stray leaf or stem.
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They love the smell of beer so place some in a container such as an old cup, a deep saucer or a bowl and they will be drawn to it. Once in, the intoxication will finish them off and they’ll drown. Other alternatives to beer include grape juice, water mixed with yeast and sugar with cooled coffee. You can also sprinkle the cool coffee on plant leaves or make a circle of coffee granules around the base of your plant which has the added bonus of being another great soil nutrient.
Have your heard of Nematodes? They are tiny microscopic creatures that eat baby and small slugs. Again available in most garden centres, mix them with water and sprinkle away. They won’t kill bigger slugs but they will eliminate the majority.
Birds, hedgehogs, newts and toads are all very partial to a slug or two so do what you can to encourage them in. Look to make your garden more bird friendly, as well as perhaps adding a pond to really make your garden an undesired place for the slimy creatures!
Another predatory creature is the common hedgehog. Look to make sure you have left sufficient gaps in your fencing to allow hedgehogs easy access at night.
Finally let’s not forget the good old fashioned way of being vigilant. A late night patrol may catch the worst offenders in the act and whilst that may not get rid of the problem, it can go a long way to minimising the damage.
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Slugs and snails will always be a blight on our gardening efforts. But there are lots of options available to help in the war against them. We’d love to know what techniques you’ve tried and tested against your slug and snail population. The quirkier the better and if you have any photos, we’d love to see them too.
Perhaps you have a slug or snail horror story that you need to get off your chest. Did your beautiful display get annihilated whilst your back was turned? As always, share it with us on our Facebook or Twitter page. Here’s to a slug and snail free summer!