Now that the weather has turned here in Scotland, the slugs and snails are back on the job. They’ve been sheltering from the sun in the soil and cool damp places all summer, leaving our Hostas and Dahlias blissfully untouched. Not so much now – I can’t believe how many I’m picking off my plants and finding in nooks and crannies.
But what’s the best way to deal with them? I am now of the opinion that there is no one sure-fire way to deal with them all, and that your best approach is to use multiple methods of attack.
In early spring, when the temperatures start to rise in the soil, I water in my first batch of Nematodes. Nematodes carry a slug-killing bacteria, which wipes many of them out before they do any damage. This is a really good start to the season, especially when you are planting young crops or seedlings.
My next approach is to buy sheeps wool pellets which I sprinkle liberally around the emerging shoots of hosts and other tender juicy plants. Water these and they will turn into a mat of wool which the slugs will not cross. It’s a bit smelly, and a little ugly – but once the plants have grown, you will not even notice.
Slug pellets also have their place, should you choose to use them. Personally I do use a few, but only if I’m desperate and I don’t like to recommend it. I will sprinkle a few around tender shoots on my allotment just as they are developing so that they are not wiped out straight away. Having used the last two approaches as well, this means I may actually have some success. My allotment is particularly bad for slugs and snails, so I am also hoping to try and attract a few frogs which will feed on them and help me out.
Upturned shells of Grapefruit are very good traps as the slugs like to eat the pith inside, and you can collect these up and dispose of them. By far the most effective method I have ever used is a beer trap. The slugs love it and die happily immersed in a sea of beer. The biggest draw back for me is disposing of the traps when they are full. Personally I can’t stomach it – but if you can, then go for it.
You will have to repeat these actions every 6 weeks or so during the growing season ( more regularly with fruit and beer traps) – so don’t forget or all your good work may be undone overnight!