Keep the slugs away – naturally

By TPN/PA, in Lifestyle · 22-02-2019 13:04:00 · 0 Comments
Keep the slugs away – naturally

Slugs can be a real pest in the garden but you don’t need to resort to pesticides to keep them at bay.

Try these suggestions from plant pathologist Pippa Greenwood to banish slugs the natural way.

1. Create barriers

Greenwood uses copper tape, widely available at garden centres, around the rims of containers and the walls of raised beds, which act as a deterrent. "Occasionally, a slug will get in, but in the main copper tape helps hugely," says Greenwood.

Other barriers, such as cloches, can also be placed over young vulnerable plants.

2. Block their path with mulches

Crushed shells are a good mulch, says Greenwood. Poultry suppliers generally have an amount of crushed oyster shells and will be cheaper than buying a small box of crushed shells from a garden centre, she says. "Use the shells as a surface mulch around vegetables including purple sprouting broccoli and calabrese."

The resin of pine needles, as well as the spikiness, can also deter slugs. Mulch the needles right up to the stem of plants, as then underground slug species such as keel slugs, which spends much of its time underground.

3. Encourage natural predators

Tempt natural predators who feed on slugs and snails into your garden, such as ground beetles, frogs, toads, hedgehogs and birds. Provide a variety of wildlife habitats and nesting boxes.

4. Choose resistant vegetable varieties

Some varieties of potato tuber, for instance, are particularly resistant to soil dwelling slugs, says organic gardening charity Garden Organic. These include Ambo, Cara, Desiree, Romano, Sante and Valor.

5. Choose trouble-free plants

Garden Organic recommends gardeners choose plants that slugs and snails don't like, including Acanthus mollis, agapanthus, hardy geranium, Digitalis purpurea, Nepeta x faassenii, Papaver orientale, Rudbeckia fulgida and Sedum spectabile.

6. Keep your soil structure and drainage sound

Slugs thrive in rough, lumpy ground which is poorly drained, so improving drainage and soil structure is important where these conditions occur. Adding grit can help drain heavy and compacted soil.

If you rake to create a fine tilth before sowing, you'll help to disturb slugs and their eggs, as well as helping soil to dry out on the surface, making movement more difficult for them, Garden Organic points out.

7. Be vigilant

Inspect vulnerable plants regularly and remove any pests. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and go out in the garden after rainfall and at night, when slugs and snails feed.

8. Keep the garden reasonably tidy

Don't give slugs hiding spaces by leaving piles of rubble or stones or stacks of flower pots close to cultivated areas. If you find large populations of slugs or snails in a corner of a veg bed or up an adjacent wall, pick them off and dispose of them.


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