Slugs, snails, more slugs and more snails – quite possibly a gardener’s biggest foe! One thing is for sure – there are literally hundreds upon hundreds of websites, articles, forums and blogs that have been written about combating these slimly critters. What’s interesting about all of these posts is that no one method works for everyone. Egg shells, diatomaceous earth, beer traps, grapefruit traps – the list goes on and on and some gardeners swear by them, and others have no luck whatsoever. There is no silver bullet so I prefer to tolerate their presence and work to prevent widespread damage rather than seek to control it.
Here at Growhampton we’ve been lucky this season and suffered only a tolerable amount of damage to the vegetables on our edible campus but I have noticed the pressure increasing progressively as the season has gone along. I’m sure many gardeners enjoy the thrill of a squashed snail but I must be honest and say I prefer to gather them up and relocate them. Rather than regurgitate every tip under the sun I can only comment on my observations here in Roehampton so here are my tips for preventing (not controlling) slimy damage:
1. Keep any grass around beds trimmed short. Long grass provides an ideal hiding place.
2. Use woodchip paths where possible. I noticed the areas where I had used a mulch path seemed to suffer less pressure than grassed paths.
3. Always watch the weather forecast and head out for a late afternoon/early morning slug harvest especially when rain is due.
4. Check all pots and containers regularly as they love hiding out in, on and around pots.
5. Raise pots and containers onto a stand to keep them off ground level.
6. Be especially vigilant during spring and autumn when slugs and snails are reproducing – a great proactive, preventative measure to reduce the breeding stocks.
7. Grow less tempting varieties. This year we noticed the snails stayed right away from the red lettuce varieties (especially devils tongue) yet munched away on most others.
8. Plant extra crop – some for you, some for the slimers!
Joel Williams is the Grower for the University of Roehampton Students’ Union’s Growhampton project
Top Tip for the week: Never put all your eggs in one basket – an integrated approach using a variety of different prevention methods will work the best. Next week I’ll be writing about foraging blackberries.