The GardenAdvice guide to controlling slugs and snails in your garden. You do not need to obtain online degrees in order to tackle this common problem. After you have read our guide to controlling slugs, you should be an expert on slug repelling.
There are 24 different species of slug in Britain, about half of which
can be found in the garden. Most slugs eat decaying vegetation, but
readily switch to young or delicate plants, feeding on the leaves, stems,
roots and tubers. They evolved from snails and in the course of doing
so lost all, or most of their shell. All slugs are hermaphrodite, that
are they have both male and female sex organs. Mating and cross-fertilisation
is the norm, but every individual produces the spherical translucent
eggs. These are laid in batches in damp places in the soil or under
stones. A small replica of the adult emerges from the egg, and takes
between 2 months and a year to mature. The activity of slugs and snails
is highest in the spring and autumn. Slugs need to keep moist at all
times otherwise they will dehydrate and die: thus they are nocturnal,
and more active when it is wet.
GardenAdvice.co.uk 6 steps to slug control in your garden
Slugs need spaces to move through the soil; creating a good fine tilth
will discourages them. Moving the soil surface with a rake in winter
will expose many slugs and their eggs to frost damage.
Remove fallen and damaged leafs from your tender plants remember slugs
eat decaying vegetation, so remove this source of food.
Ground and rove beetles, centipedes, frogs and toads, slow-worms, hedgehogs
and many species of birds all eat significant numbers of slugs. To encourage
frogs and toads maintain a pond (without goldfish) and for slow-worms
keep some long grass and avoid using a strimmer.
The Hedgehog Method:
Hedgehogs are predators of slugs so you need to attract them into the
garden. At night time lay out dog food, which they love to eat - don't
use bread or milk because it's bad for them. Once we've got them into
the garden we need to keep them, so provide them with a water-proof
box, about 18 inches long and 12 inches deep, fill it with straw so
it's nice and snug, make it waterproof and hide it by covering it with
leaves. Then the hedgehog can live in there. You'll not only get rid
of pests, but, if you have children, they'll be delighted.
The Trench Method:
To encourage ground and rover beetles. Dig a trench about six inches
deep and three inches across, and then line it with pebbles and Perspex
edges. Beetles, which are a predator of slugs, will fall into the trench
and can hide under the pebbles, which will protect them from birds.
When the slug falls in, the beetle will have his dinner.
(Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita) are available from Defenders Limited
(01233 813121). These must be applied to the soil in solution. Be sure
to follow the pack instructions. Treatment should be done in a block
and the soil temperature must be above 5 degrees C.
Various materials or uncomfortable for slugs and snails to cross and
a barrier provides some protection for vulnerable and valuable plants.
Vermiculite, which is normally a compost addition, and this is an interesting
product because as it swells up with water - and we all know slugs love
water - it actually moves which the slugs dislike. We've found vermiculite
to be 90% effective as a control; we put it around the base of a plant
in a ring. It's particularly good for plants that love water.
The only gravel that works as a barrier is the crushed form because
it has very sharp edges our favour is horticultural grit 4 -8 mm.
Bark has a downside that in wet weather it can help the slugs travel
to your plants. However in a dry season using a coarse bark made from
large pieces is difficult for the slugs to move through because it becomes
5.Hand picking and trapping: slugs can be collected at night with a
torch. Traps can concentrate slugs to specific areas for picking. Traps
made from glossy magazines, but old bits of carpet or old plastic plant
trays make more effective slug traps. These provide a damp place to
rest during the day and slugs can be removed in daylight. Such traps
also provide refuge for ground beetles and centipedes that feed on slugs
and their eggs. Using suicide plants to bring the slugs out of the soil
for collection before you plant or sow your crop can also help to reduce
numbers and restrict damage
If you need results quickly trapping is the method to opt for.
The Beer Trap Method:
This is quite a traditional technique. All you need is a jar, put it
on its side with a small amount of alcoholic beverage in it, and when
slugs come along they'll drown in it. It's very simple, it's effective,
and you don't need the whole can either.
Black plastic bag method
If you have a slug attack in one area in your garden this is a quick
method to reduce the numbers . Take one black bin liner place on the
ground in between your tender plants, then place two lettuce which are
well pass there sales date. Finally add two tea cups of breakfast bran
and pour a cup full of beer (bitter is best) over the lettuce. Leave
over night with the top open and check in the morning, the slug should
have climbed into the bag over night and as the sun raises in the morning
taken shelter in the bottom of the bag, ready to be removed from your
This is a slug trap that has been developed over a two-year period,
using trials with cardboard boxes before the final plastic prototype
was manufactured. The gardenAdvice team presently have these traps under
trial. More details can be found at www.westfield-products.co.uk
And finally, if you have both the space and the right environment then
ducks and chickens are dual-purpose domestic animals that are great
slug and snail hunters.