Grow It Yourself – Slug Wars Part II: This time it’s personal
Despite massive attempts to rid my garden of slugs, using mostly ‘death by drowning in beer’ which is very effective, I have still lost half my beans and potatoes, two courgette plants and three pepper plants, not to mention the green lettuces and chard!
Red lettuce seem more immune to slug damage. I have discovered that crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, and plastic collars offer only limited resistance and its only a matter of time before the enemy ignore these protective measures. Still, I am NOT resorting to blue slug pellets.
I was glad to see that LDGA have stopped selling ‘bad’ slug pellets at the trading store and now only stock the ferric phosphate type, certified for organic use. However, it doesn’t say on the packet that they are safe for wildlife so I’m only using them where I can net the crop (e.g. strawberries) and prevent the blackbirds digging up and eating the dead slugs. I don’t think slugs drowned in alcohol would pose much of a threat to anything eating them, but if you see inebriated thrushes or toads wandering about you’ll know why!!…
I have to say that the current increase in slugs is enough to make even the most hardened gardener weep and hang up their hoes in despair. But hang in there, we will overcome some day. This year I am trialling Oca, also known as New Zealand yams, and so far the slugs have left them alone, so if that continues and I get a decent crop I’ll plant them again.
I am guessing that the mild winter we had this year may well be repeated more often than not, so that our major pests do not get killed off by the cold. If that’s the case then we need other plans. At least the over wintering crops got off to a good start this Spring. I have already eaten and pulled up the Autumn planted broad beans. I had a good crop too. I plan to put squash in their place once I have got more compost.
That’s the interesting thing about gardening isn’t it? Every year is different, with different gains and losses. It keeps us on our toes.
The best solution I have come up with is to plant in large pots wherever possible and put copper tape round the top. This way I now have three healthy climbing french bean plants, whereas the lot I planted in the ground were eaten… and not by me. The courgette plants which survived in the new raised bed, are now massive and – I hope – too tough for the slugs.
JULY’S TO DO LIST:
Keep feeding tomatoes weekly with regular tomato feed or home made comfrey liquid.
Keep weeding and watering and slug hunting.
Last chance to plant lettuce seeds.
It’s too late to plant anything else from seed really, except overwintering cabbages. In October you can plant Autumn onions and Broad beans ready for next Spring.
I would love to hear about your successes and solutions to problems. Do share!