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Dealing with the dreaded slugs organically.

wpid-2015-04-19-17.15.50.jpg.jpegApparently, us Brits spend about £30 million a year on slug prevention. At every growers meeting I’ve been to, the first question that always pops up is how to deal with slugs quickly followed by a collective roll of eyes.

It’s easy to forget how devastating these can be during a dry April, but be warned, as soon as the rain comes, the slugs will be out in force.

Firstly, there’s no hard and fast way. I have found a few methods that work well for me, but not before trying a huge range of other techniques at blasting the slimy critters, and I am sure that the slugs will grow used to these ideas before long!

 

wpid-2015-04-19-16.00.48.jpg.jpegwpid-2015-04-19-16.01.10.jpg.jpegThe biggest issue is being organic. There are plenty of chemicals and slug remedies out there that are effective, but they do introduce heavy metals and pesticides to your veg patch. The biggest part of growing my own veg is to ensure that I am not introducing unnecessary chemicals in to my food.

Before going in to the details, prepare the beds so they are less slug friendly. Ensure they are kept weed free (as much as possible) and remove any debris that could be a snug home for a slithery slug.

Here are a few methods for dealing with them, in order of how well they work for me!

  1. Organic slug killer – this slug killer is by far the easiest way to make sure you get ahead of any breeding programme the slugs may have planned for the year. I generally sprinkle it around newly planted seedlings to give them a fighting chance. Then once more during their growing period if I see signs of  hungry slugs. This will usually do. Over-use of even an organic approved formula can have adverse side effects, so make sure you are tactical in its use.
  2. Nematodes are expensive (or free if you follow the instructions below on farming your own), but they do provide a good few weeks free from slugs. They are a natural predator to the slug, and with a helping hand, you can increase the nematode population to biblical proportions, eradicating the slugs in the local area. Of course, there is instantly a supply and demand issue here. Once the slugs are gone, the nematodes die off, leaving a gap for more slugs to come in. And so it begins. There is a home-grown version of this. If you are feeling brave (and have a stomach of steel) you can collect a horde of slugs from the garden, and put them in a ventilated container that they will not be able to get out of, and feed them and nourish them in a cool shady place. The nematodes occur quite naturally in the garden, so the chances are, one of the slugs you caught will be infected with them. Given time, it will infect all the other slugs, and once they start dying off, you can be pretty sure you have a concentrated sludge of nematodes in the bucket. Simply sieve and dilute the solution in to a watering can, and water your veg beds. It’s not pretty, but the year I did it, it seemed to work well.
  3. Garlic water. Another freebie, using a food processor, get a whole garlic bulb, and 1 litre of water, and blitz it. {James Wong suggestion}. Put the solution in a spray bottle, and spray all your much-loved crops to deter slugs. It is quite well documented that the oils in garlic can kill slugs and snails, so they would prefer to stay well away from the scent. Just ensure that you plant extra garlic the year before to cater for the use of so many garlic bulbs!
  4. Manual removal – you really need a strong stomach for this one. This is a time-consuming, but effective way of removing the slugs. In the evening when the sun has set, get a torch and scissors (or two bricks if squeamish) and inspect your crops. Pick off any slugs you may find, and simply cut them in half, or squash them between two bricks. I told you, you’d need a strong stomach!

I did try crushing up egg shells last year and scattering a thick protective layer around the plants. Unfortunately the next day I found that the slugs had quite easily slimed their way across and back again with seemingly no adverse effects.

Another technique I have not yet tried are the copper bands – in my mind this is a very expensive way of slug control, and not really a solution for vegetables, rather it is for protecting a large potted plant by putting a band around the pot to stop any curious slugs from crawling up.

 

Originally posted 2018-04-20 17:34:33.

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