Slug Deterrent

Building an army of garden allies requires time, nurturing and patience, in the meantime you need a few other slug deterrents in your arsenal!

toad A couple of weeks ago I was enjoying a bit of alone time in the garden planting up some small apple trees.  But I was not alone, I was being watched!  Despite this intrusion into rare time for myself I was nevertheless pleased to see this frog sitting on the dry stone wall observing me.  Why?  They are fantastic slug deterrents or more accurately fearsome slug killers. 

Encouraging frogs and toads into the garden is a sure way to keep slug populations under control.  We are surrounded by natural water sources here but if you are  land locked even the smallest of ponds will suffice to attract these useful garden friends.  But remember they are amphibians and also need suitable land habitats.  Places to stay cool are important and can be provided by log  and stone piles or you can buy a purpose built frog and toad house.  I guess Mr Frog here was very happy with the dry stone wall.

Frogs and toads are not the only creatures our walls harbour.  When Spring is truly underway small families of shrews can be seen tumbling out of them.  Our dog Willow watches them with bemusement, they are way too fast for her.  These little creatures will consume up to five times their own body weight in slugs a day.   It is also of course well worth while doing all you can to encourage hedgehogs into your garden as they too are partial to the odd slug, remember they can’t get in if your garden is closed off by walls and fences so a few breaches might be in order.  Hedgehogs appreciate untidy areas of the garden in which to shelter, if you don’t like untidiness in your garden you can always purchase an attractive hogitat.  Birds can be a bit of a mixed blessing in the vegetable garden but I think on balance they are more useful than not, anything that will eat a slug or two is welcome here.  In any case, who wants to spend time in a garden without birds?  Knowing that slugs provide nutrition for such a variety of wildlife should be good enough reason never to resort to toxic slug pellets.  What better way to introduce poison throughout the food chain?  These pellets also present a risk to your own children and pets.

Of course, conscripting your army of slug slaying garden allies takes time, and you may have to employ supplementary slug deterrents.  If you have precious veg or  favourite plants in containers or raised beds you can use copper tape (widely available) to surround your plants.  The copper tape passes a small electrical charge to deter slugs and snails from foraging any further.  Slugs and snails dislike dry, coarse textures and it is worth surrounding plants with grit, hair,, crushed shells, coffee grounds and ash – soot is often cited as very effective but I think it is unpleasantly toxic also.  You might want to try making up a garlic spray, this is my favourite method for protecting hostas.   To do this break up a  couple of bulbs of garlic, don’t bother removing skin but do bash them up with a rolling pin, and boil in two pints of water for three  or four minutes.  Strain the water and dilute, one tablespoon per 5 litres of water.  Water or spray  liberally on to plants, avoid doing this in strong sunshine to prevent leaf scorch.  You will have to reapply every time it rains!  On the subject of which, it is a good idea to go out on rainy summer evenings and manually remove any unwanted guests from your plants.  They’re worth it!

People are divided as to whether beer traps work.  I think they do work, but you must be sure to cover your sunken containers of beer or the slugs won’t regard them as havens.  They are pretty unpleasant to clean out and the beer needs replacing fairly regularly.  The Man has complained that using beer traps expends more energy than it produces as beer is more calorific than any resulting vegetable crop!  Maybe he doesn’t want to share but of course he does have a point!  This year I won’t be using beer traps.

One thing I will be trying out this year is nematodes.  Unlike your other garden allies you might have to fork out for these, but they are the crack troops when it comes to defending your green leafies, this is slug espionage.  Nematodes are already naturally present in your soil, this is about strength in numbers however and adding several thousand more!  The nematodes seek out slugs, penetrate them and then release a bacteria which eventually kills the slug.  It doesn’t stop there though because the nematodes reproduce inside the slug ready to move on and attack yet more slugs.  Unlike other methods of control nematodes continue to work in wet conditions and also deep under the soil.  In fact you are unlikely to see thousands of dead slug bodies on your patch as a result of this method.  You need to water in your nematodes during early spring, although not until the soil has warmed up sufficiently. This is critical in giving your seedlings a good start and a fighting chance.  You may then follow up with treatments every six weeks if required, some suppliers will sell you a programme, sending  you the nematodes at regular intervals.  It is important to store nematodes in the fridge when you receive them and to use by the date shown.  Don’t buy any more than you need at a time, they don’t keep!  Work out how much you need for the areas you intend to treat, you might want to leave some wild areas untreated so that Mr Frog gets his tea! 

Find out more about this lovely hogitat by clicking the image or other products to encourage wildlife into your garden here at  Eco-Charlie where you can also order Nemaslug if you think you need an army of nematodes. A great place to start if you are interested in Sustainable Living.

 

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2 comments to Slug Deterrent

  • Granny Goo

    Can you please send Mr Frog and friends up here to begin active service on my allotment before I plant out my lettuces and my cabbages and my sprouts?

  • goo

    Sorry Granny Goo, Mr Frog is my friend and he says he likes it here very much thank you!

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