By now your veg patch and fruit bushes should be flourishing, if the slugs haven’t ravaged the lot!  It can be like a war zone out there, trying to protect against beasties eating your crops before you do.

the clear winner in slug prevention is the copper band. They are expensive but they last for years around a plastic or ceramic pot (they don’t stick well to wood), so now I am going to plant some more climbing french beans in a large pot with copper tape around and woe betide any slug that gets past that!!

If you’re keen to experiment, here are some suggestions for home-made slug damage limitation:

  • coffee grounds in a thick  circle round vulnerable plants
  • bran applied the same way – the idea is that they get so full on the bran that they leave your plants alone… although I’m not sure about that one
  • beer traps – half bury a jam jar half full of beer. Don’t put it level with the soil or you will catch other things as well like beetles which are our friends!  The slugs drink themselves to death.
  • put a plank of wood or a brick down near vulnerable plants and check it underneath frequently to catch the little blighters napping.  Dispose of them as you see fit.
  • spray plants with garlic ‘tea’ and / or chilli powder

Try a mixture of the above and be vigilant!  Do not be tempted by ‘normal’ slug pellets as poisoned slugs could still be eaten by birds and hedgehogs which will in turn be poisoned if they eat enough.  The Garden Organic and Harrod Horticultural websites have more ideas but they cost money.

For other attackers, such as pigeons and deer, you will need to net your crops and deter with CDs suspended so they rotate and catch the light (can be quite pretty) or plastic bottles on sticks, which rattle in the wind (not so pretty!).  If you are netting your plants be aware of dangers to hedgehogs.  If you leave a 4″ gap at the bottom  they will be able to get underneath and help eat the slugs.  I once spent about an hour untangling a hedgehog from some baler twine (the orange stuff) that had been left on the ground.  I managed it in the end but it was tricky because the hog insisted on rolling into a ball.  Chicken wire is fairly safe though; it’s the soft netting that catches them.

Another near-disaster that occurred last year was in the greenhouse and involved those yellow sticky paper traps which are designed to catch whitefly.  Of course they stick to anything!  In my case it was a bluetit which had flown in through the open door and caught itself on the sticky trap.  It was a good thing I found it fairly quickly. It lost a few feathers in the process of unpeeling, but it flew off so I hope it was OK.  I have now put netting across the door gap.

Last but not least, feed tomatoes weekly and mulch – grass clippings work fine.

The Food Festival on May 17th was a great success and we had a lot of interest at our Growers’ Market stall.  It was lovely to involve the children in planting beans to take home.  We used re-cycled containers like loo rolls in plastic boxes and used paper coffee cups. Who needs to buy plastic plant-pots?!!  It’s so much easier to plant out beans grown this way as the roots don’t get tangled up and the cardboard just adds compost to the soil.  We sold most of the tomato plants but there will be plenty of peppers and some chillis at the next market.  I look forward to seeing you there.


Grow It Yourself – June — 5 Comments

  1. This is really useful (if somewhat murderous!) advice. My Nan had a personal vendetta against slugs and always used to carry a sharp knife when gardening to chop them in half! I’m lucky in that I now have two hens with a taste for the blighters because I’m not quite that tough!

    I wonder if you’ve ever used nematodes though, and what you think of them.

    • I haven’t used nematodes purely because they are expensive but I understand they are very effective. My beer traps are catching a lot of slugs of all sizes. Must buy more beer!!

      • I make a mixture of sugar, marmite and water, which the slugs love. I’ve seen them climb over each other to get into the trap. The only problem is that you have to keep checking the trap and get rid of all the dead slugs/snails.

  2. I know my hens love eating slugs, but I understand that they can harbour a nasty parasite that can give the hens lung disease. Anyone know how much of a risk this is? I don’t want to miss out on the extra protein for my hens, but neither do I want them to get sick….

    • Hi Claire. Yes, I understand you’re right. However, free-ranging hens can pick up worms and parasites from all over, so as long as you’re worming fairly frequently (Flubenvet or somthing similar) then you should be OK. Seems a shame to deprive the chooks of such a treat!