Tatnam Organic Patch Rotating Header Image

Slug woes

Dead slugs leave no trails – Andy wishes them gone

Every now and again, I get sentimental and suppose that slugs and snails have a useful place in the garden. As I’m not the tidiest of gardeners, someone has to take those old leaves, and turn them into useful compost. In fact the compost heap is for me a sanctuary to these molluscs, if I see them there, they are safe.

But then when I look to see how my seedlings are doing, and find bare stems where carefully nurtured seedlings had stood, I remember why I persevere with the ‘organic’ control mechanisms – a torch, and a jam jar, plodding around after dusk.

On the patch it is tricky because we are more rarely there. I remember seeing song thrushes in the garden as a child. I haven’t seen one for years. But hedgehogs, frogs, toads and slow worms are great predators for snails and slugs, making a pond a must in any organic garden. Sage, Hyssop and Thyme can apparently act as guard plants.

Beer-traps are a favourite that we have used with some success. Drown them happy. There never seems to be enough beer though to fill the traps with though. Day traps are an alternative. These are nooks and crannies that are favourite for slugs and snails to hide in to sit out the heat of the day. Providing them with known hideouts that can be lifted and emptied at your convenience is a cunning way to avoid nocturnal excursions. But of course if you fail to empty them regularly, you have just provided a convenient hotel close to a food source.

When we first raised the vegetable beds on the patch, we used fixed boards on the sides. These provided the ideal slug hotel, not accessible by us. We then changed most of them to ‘removable’ slats. Held loosely in place at 45 degrees by a couple of pegs, they can easily be inspected and cleared, but then the pegs were easy to stumble on, and unless inspected, the slugs and snails loved them. We have now  removed the wood from most beds.

Wooden bed edges provide an ideal home for slugs unless picked daily

Wooden bed edges provide an ideal home for slugs unless picked daily

I fear that on balance we are still providing more help than hindrance. But some people love them www.geocities.com/Athens/Atrium/5924/allaboutsnails.htm, and others have made a science out of getting rid of them www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7427.html