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Garden Guru: Slugs and Snails

Lucky, lucky little slugs and snails – they’re having a fine old summer so far with lots of moisture and their favourite temperatures. Plants are loving it too and are romping away – but you may not be so ha ...

Lucky, lucky little slugs and snails – they’re having a fine old summer so far with lots of moisture and their favourite temperatures. Plants are loving it too and are romping away – but you may not be so happy as your lettuce disappears overnight and the tender annuals you planted on the weekend are just a memory.


See the following blog for what seems to me to be sensible advice on how to grapple with your gastropods: http://www.serendipitygardencentre.co.uk/articles/spring-summer-pest-control.html

Spring/Summer Pest Control. .

A mild winter accompanied by a wet spring only equates to one thing… the ideal environment that get those little creatures in the mood to slowly devour your hard work, one munch at a time.

The Serendipity Team knows and understands the heartbreak one feels when the first tell tale signs appear. The unmistakeable irregular shaped holes… the giveaway glistening slime trails… the disappointment that feels all too familiar.

So, we drew on our wealth of knowledge (and pestered Grandma Mabel for her secret gardening hacks) to pick the best 5 ways keep those slimy critters away from your pride and joy!

It all depends on the type of destruction that has occurred. Although both snails and slugs leave their trademark slime, only snails are good (surprisingly) at reaching higher areas e.g. your beautiful hanging baskets.

Underground devastation? Slugs will almost definitely be to blame. Long-keeled slugs of the Milacidae family make their homes beneath the soil, which gives them ideal cover to invade your root veg patch in peace and gobble until their hearts content.

Another significant difference is that snails are rather fussy in comparison to their mollusc cousins. If the leafy remains are almost non-existent, it’s more than likely a ravenous slug invasion. Snails tend to munch their way around the veins of a leaf, leaving a skeletal shell.

1.     Handy work

Imagine yourself at a buffet consisting of all of your favourite foods… it would be hard to resist temptation, wouldn’t it? We aren’t so different from our slimy, so why not give them a chance to live?

Whether you’re squeamish or have a stomach made of steel, we think you should at least try to remove the majority of the slugs manually. In fact, if you do it in prime time (e.g. a cool, damp evening) it will probably be a lot more effective than alternative methods.

For those of you who’s stomachs turned at the thought of coming face to face with your slimy worst enemies, do not despair! There are a host of different gadgets that allow you to make your garden a slug free zone whilst keeping them at arms length.  [insert link to product]
2.     Good old fashioned salt

It may not be the most innovative way and it may not be the most effective BUT it does make do for a quick, short-term solution. Make sure you either put the salt directly on each critter or create a thick salt barrier around your plants. DON’T put it on your flowerbeds or in the pots because they don’t like salt either!
3.     Boozy bucket trap

Unusual as it sounds, molluscs love beer. So why not create your own ‘slug pub’ to deter those pesky things away from your lettuce patch? All you need to do is half bury the container in the soil, and half fill a container with the good stuff. The slug will be temptingly lured to the trap by scent. To prevent harming helpful slug-eating beetles, keep the rim around 3cm above ground.


4.     Ashes to ashes

Ashes and cinders can be used to either make a protective barrier around your vegetable garden or flower patch OR if you use very fine ash, it can actually dry the slug out. Similarly to the salt method – avoid plants where possible. Check your traps every day, preferably in the morning.


5.     Bran bait

Slugs and snails are both suckers for breakfast cereals, more specifically, bran and oats. Sprinkle a few handfuls away from your plants and watch the greedy, glutinous monsters gorge themselves until the meet their end. Yes, that’s right – many of them will eat until they explode. (Maybe that’s a bit harsh… the bran actually swells in their stomachs causing them to explode!)
6.     Nemaslug – the environmentally friendly slug treatment

This natural, non-toxic method is a much safer alternative to slug repellent, for both wildlife and users. These nematodes (miniscule worm-like organisms) sniff out the slugs and enter the bodies, preventing the slugs/snails from eating, eventually leading to death.

One single dose stays active for around 6 weeks, as the nematodes continue reproducing. This method can only be used in spring or summer, as they need a warm, slightly moist environment to work effectively.

If you are dealing with a keeled slug problem, which predictably ruins your root vegetable harvest each year, Nemaslug will become your new best friend. You may need more than one course of treatment, but no more than two!

TIP: If your pest problem is ONLY snails – this isn’t the best technique to use due to a snail’s life cycle.

Where mollusc invasion hasn’t yet reached the point of complete destruction, we do advise using the first method. However, we know how horrifically damaging they can be – so you may want to try a couple of our suggestions to decipher whether your garden intruders prefer beer or bran!

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