Dealing With Slugs in the Garden

Slug

Slugs cause no end of mayhem in a number of UK gardens. Many gardeners have been forced to wage war against these destructive creatures and for those in problem zones, the effort can seem endless. After the temperatures rise and April showers descend, especially after a wet winter, there can be an exponential explosion in the number of slugs lying in wait to eat your precious seedlings. While still small, the slugs that come out at this time of year can still do a surprising amount of damage. This is a good time of year to try to get on top of your slug and snail problem once and for all. If you find yourself pitched in battle against these pests in your garden, here are some tips to help you rid yourself of this slimy problem:


Barriers:


Robinson PeasIndividual seedlings and new raised beds can be saved from a slug invasion by means of barriers that will physically prevent or will deter the slugs from reaching your plants. Copper tape, wire or pennies can give slugs that try to cross a mild and irritating shock. Anything sharp and jagged such as crushed recycled ceramic products on the market, or baked eggshells, for example, have also been found to be effective by some gardeners. You can also collar susceptible seedlings with a plastic collar made from an old drinks bottle, milk bottle or similar. There are plenty of barrier type defences against slugs, though it has to be said that none is 100% effective.


Traps:


Beer TrapAs with barriers, traps are not 100% effective. While a beer trap or half a grapefruit on your border will attract slugs, of course you then have to collect and kill them which is rather unpleasant. Also, by trapping and collecting all your slugs, you could, paradoxically, end up with a problem that just gets worse. There will be no slugs for predators to eat, so predators will move away – so when the slug population rebounds and inevitably comes back, it will come back with a vengeance and there will be fewer creatures to help you keep the numbers down.


Biological Controls:


Biological controls such as parasitic nematodes, will definitely reduce slug numbers for a crucial period and it is certainly an organic method, simply adding in greater numbers something already found in the soil in your garden, that will return to normal levels after a few weeks. But this can only ever be a short-term fix. As above, getting rid of slugs in your garden could actually make the numbers of slugs grow without check in the future. Creating a vacuum will allow for the perfect conditions for an explosion in slug numbers.


Balance:


Chicken - Slug EaterWhen it comes to controlling the slug population in your garden, balance and biodiversity are key. In fact, creating a healthier and more balanced ecosystem is really the only way to address a slug problem in the long term. When the garden ecosystem is balanced, predators will naturally stop the slug population from getting out of control. While other methods can provide short term fixes, the best things you can do to combat slugs is create a garden with brush, wood piles, a wildlife pond and beneficial planting to encourage hedgehogs, frogs and other predators to your garden. Chickens or ducks can also make a healthy addition to your garden and can also help keep slug numbers down.

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