Those blasted slugs have eaten my Melon plants, gone in a flash! Slugs have been a massive problem this year to most Gardeners. A warm winter with very few sub-zero temperatures and a warm wet spring has allowed the slug population to flourish. As a result of this there is a shortage of slug pellets in the UK. I am pleased to say we do have a few packets left. If you don’t have any you can use non chemical controls as mentioned below.
Transplant sturdy plantlets grown on in pots, rather than young vulnerable seedlings. Transplants can be given some protection with cloches.
Place traps, such as scooped out half orange, grapefruit or melon skins, laid cut side down, or jars part-filled with beer and sunk into the soil near vulnerable plants. Check and empty these regularly, preferably every morning. Proprietary traps are also available from good garden centres!
Place barriers, such as copper tapes around pots or stand containers on matting impregnated with copper salts. Moisture-absorbent minerals can be placed around plants to create slug barriers (e.g. Slug Blocker Granules). Gel repellents can also be used to create barriers around plants. Go out with a torch on mild evenings, especially when the weather is damp, and hand-pick slugs into a container. Take them to a field, hedgerow or patch of waste ground well away from gardens, at least 30 meters away as they have been found to return to where they originated. Destroy them in hot water, a strong salt solution or feed them to the birds!
Birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs, slow-worms and ground beetles eat slugs and these predators should be encouraged in gardens.
Rake over soil and remove fallen leaves during winter so birds can eat slug eggs that have been exposed.
Potatoes and slugs
The slugs that damage potatoes spend much of their time in the soil where they do not come into contact with slug pellets. The nematode treatment can be effective. Nematodes are roundworms that kill slugs in the soil, they can be purchased from Garden Centres and posted to you direct. You just mix them with water and apply to the soil in a watering can. Damage usually begins during August and becomes progressively worse the longer the crop is left in the ground. Early potatoes usually escape damage; maincrop potatoes should be lifted as soon as the tubers have matured if the soil is known to be slug infested. Heavy applications of farmyard manure and other composts can encourage slugs, and so inorganic fertilizers should be used where slugs are a problem. It is better to dig organic matter into your soil and have a slug problem rather than have no organic matter in your soil. Slugs can be treated, no organic matter in your soil will be disastrous!
Potatoes vary in their susceptibility to slugs. ‘Maris Piper’, ‘Cara’, ‘Arran Banner’, ‘Kirsty’, ‘Maris Bard’, ‘Maris Peer’, ‘Kondor’, ‘Pentland Crown’ and ‘Rocket’ are frequently damaged, whereas ‘Romano’, ‘Pentland Dell’, ‘Pentland Squire’, ‘Wilja’, ‘Charlotte’, ‘Golden Wonder’, ‘Kestrel’, ‘Estima’, ‘Stemster’, ‘Sante’ and ‘Pentland Ivory’ are less susceptible. Damaged potatoes are more vulnerable to storage rots and the crop should be sorted into sound and damaged tubers, with the latter being stored separately for early consumption.
Following the manufactures instructions scatter slug pellets thinly around vulnerable plants, such as seedlings, vegetables and young shoots on herbaceous plants. It is important store pellets safely and scatter them thinly as they can harm other wildlife, pets and young children if eaten in quantity.
There are two types of pellet available to the gardener; those that contain metaldehyde or ferric sulphate Ferric sulphate is relatively non-toxic to vertebrate animals.
A liquid formulation of metaldehyde is available for watering on to ornamental plants and the soil, it should not be applied to edible plants.
Most plants, once established, will tolerate some slug damage and control measures can be discontinued.
We released our annual hive of Bumble bees this week. The Ducklings are now 10 days old.
Wet or dry its great weather for planting out Vegetables.
Our Nursery is full of wonderful plants.
Have a great slug free weekend
Ashley Warren has lived and loved horticulture and agriculture all his life; he had his first greenhouse at the age of 10 and his first cow when he was 16. He started landscaping in 1984 mainly in Milton Keynes and then all over the country. He moved to Daventry Road Farmhouse in 1987 and has developed Bell Plantation Garden Centre in Towcester, Northants over the last 30 years.