Beating the Slugs

Now that spring is upon us we can see that the buds on the trees are beginning to burst and our perennials are beginning to send out new shoots. While the sight of these new shoots are a welcome sign that winter is definitely over it is also comes as a warning that it is time once again time to be on the lookout for damage being caused by the dreaded slug.
   When faced with an infestation, the most effective way of dealing with slugs is to use a chemical treatment. Chemical slug and snail killers are available in liquid form or as the more popular slug pellets. While these treatments are usually very effective they can be dangerous to other animals frequenting the garden. The active ingredients in slug killers (metaldehyde and methiocarb) can be poisonous to many animals including pets and wild birds, and as a result of this many people are moving to more organic methods of beating these pests.
   When dealing with slugs and snails you will often find that prevention is better than cure. Slugs love to hide in the dark, damp conditions that you find in untidy overgrown garden beds. To counteract this you should tidy the place up. Opening the garden up to as much light and air as possible and regularly weeding borders will remove the conditions that the slugs really enjoy.
   If you find damage being done to your plants one way of dealing with slugs is to physically remove them. Slugs are nocturnal, so the best time to go out looking for them is at dawn or dusk. A handy way of removing slugs from an area is to leave empty grapefruit skin out over night. All the surrounding slugs will be attracted to the grapefruit by the smell and in the morning all the local slugs can be disposed of along with the skin in one go.
   Another way of protecting your delicate plants from damage is to keep the slugs at arms length. Slugs and snails move by crawling along on their delicate bellies and they don¬ít like to cross rough or sharp surfaces. With this in mind you can build barriers around your tender plants. Popular materials for these barriers include crushed egg shells (these also help to build up calcium levels in the soil), soot or sharp sand but you can experiment with any easily available rough material.
© Copyright, Highland Landscapes, Letterkenny, 2008.