More slugs

Gardener’s Question Time on Radio Four this week dealt with the pestiferous question of slugs (after I had, which suggests to me that they are nicking my material!) and they came up with a very interesting suggestion – throw out grain for your slugs!

The way this was discovered by the reader who wrote in, apparently, was that she would throw down corn for the ground-feeding birds, and if she went out after fifteen minutes or so, she found the slugs were converging on the grain at a rapid (for them) rate. Apparently slugs love grain! And this greed gives two opportunities for slug disposal – you can either gather them up (or tread on them with your nice thick wellies) and dispose of them yourself, or you can wait for the more predatory birds to realise that once their grain-eating cousins have had breakfast, their own food turns up and can be picked off!

Then there’s that microscopic nematode or eelwom that is watered into the soil. The nematodes (Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita) enter slugs' bodies and infect them with bacteria that cause a fatal disease. I’ve never managed this myself, but other people swear by this approach – I think there’s a real issue about nematodes which is that you do need clement weather and for the past three years my watering in has been followed by either unseasonal hard frost (a guaranteed nematode killer) or torrential floods.

I also use copper bands around my most beloved plants – sometimes you have to buy these, but I’ve gained most of mine by skip diving and stripping the copper component out of electric cabling. Costs nothing but time, and can be wrapped around any kind of pot, or even twined around the base of plants with a single stem like globe artichokes or sunflowers – believe me, slugs will not cross copper if they can avoid it.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Friday, October 26, 2007


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