In my gardening blog today I will be giving some advice to the gardeners among you on how to protect your plants from slugs and snails. In the extraordinarily wet weather we have all been subjected to over the last few weeks, you may have been experiencing problems with them munching away on your newly planted seedlings. Seedlings are particularly susceptible to damage as the tender leaves are attractive to these predators. This is very disheartening and tricky to overcome at the best of times, but it is essential to be on the war path and be proactive in your approach, otherwise you may find that many of your seedlings and young plants will simply disappear.
slugs and snails
Slugs and snails are related, and are biologically known as gastropods. They are hermaphrodites being both male and female, and each one can produce up to 500 eggs over a season. Their life span can be up to five years if they’re lucky. They feed on plant material and, as I said before, are particularly fond of young fresh tender growth so any seedlings you plant out are in danger of being devoured by these pests. They tend to come out to feed at night or during cloudy wet spells of weather. They like to shelter under leaves, stones, wood, plastic and the like. They don’t like open, dry, well cultivated, weed free ground.
Conventional slug pellets are made with metaldehyde or methiocarb and are not to be encouraged as they cause harm to other wildlife in our gardens, and also leave chemical deposits in your soil. Birds, beetles, hedgehogs, toads and frogs are all gardener’s friends and helpers, and will happily dine on these slimy creatures, helping to keep their numbers down and hence allowing you to successfully grow your own veg, flowers, and fruit. These slug pellets will kill the slug or snail and then the bird, beetle or toad etc that may eat it. It really is an absolute no-no.
ferric phosphate based pellets
These pellets are made up of iron phosphate and cause no harm to other wildlife and are Soil Association approved, although organic growers still need to get permission to use them.
This is a biological control for use against slugs, but it is not effective against snails. It is a microscopic sort of worm known as Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita, and is a native species living in our soils already but not in quite enough numbers to really control your slugs and snails. Once introduced they will help protect your crops for up to six weeks. They need the ground to be damp to survive so a certain amount of watering may need to be done to help them.
There are all sorts of methods that people adopt to try and overcome the problem of slugs and snails, some of which I have listed below. There is loads of info on the web so take a look and try some out for yourself. Primarily, take a look at your garden and discover where they like to hang out. Physical removal is a good start and tidying up your garden, clearing debris and objects where they congregate is key. Getting the balance right is hard though as a completely weed free, spotless garden doesn’t provide a habitat required to encourage the biodiversity that is essential to garden organically.
Find out more about the home remedies and have some fun. Here are more ideas to Google: salt, traps, eggshells, coarse sand, bran, copper bands, seaweed squashing, vinegar, beer traps, culling.