Slug Control

If you don’t have slug control around your asparagus bed you run the risk of losing some of your freshest asparagus spears to the dreaded slug.

Toad great for eating slugs

You probably already know if you have a slug problem in your garden. If you do you need to work out the best was to control them.

There are five main fronts of attack:

1. Remove by Hand (not for the squeamish!)

A very simple method of slug control: Wait until dark, (ideally after some light rain), get a torch, go into the garden and pick up slugs. A garden cane with a spike on the end will do the job although it seems a little brutal to me. Alternatively you could pick them up with your bare hands (yuk!), pick them up wearing rubber gloves (a bit less yuk!) or buy a rather posh looking slug picker upper!

The question is now, what are you going to do with them? This depends on whether you are the sort of animal lover whose love extends to slugs, in which case, you could take them and put them in the garden of someone you don’t like very much! Or release them into the wild???!!! I’m sure you’ll work it out. If you have no compassion then you may choose to drown them or cover them in salt. Never seen what happens to a slug with salt on it?…. again not for the squeamish……

This is a very effective means of clearing the garden of slugs but you may have to repeat it quite often until you get the numbers down.

2. Catch them….

Slugs are as keen on a spot of beer as your average man. Get a jam jar, bury it in the soil leaving about an inch protruding, fill the jam jar with beer and wait. The slugs will smell the beer and drown very happily when they fall into the jam jar. It is important to leave the jam jar protruding as this stops other garden creatures from falling in, including some beetle predators that are helping keep you slug population down.

You can also try a yeast mixture as it is the yeast in the beer that the slugs are drawn to. A mixture of water , sugar, flour and some yeast will do the trick. Milk is also used by some people to lure the slugs into the trap.

You will need a trap every square metre or so which may be quite a lot for a bigger plot.

If you are trying to keep the slugs away from a patio area or an areas where you can’t bury a jar you could invest in a Slug X trap which sits on the ground and does a very similar job.

3. Stop them in their tracks….

If you only need to protect some specific plants (eg your asparagus) you could try creating a barrier. Slugs slither along on their slime. On a damp day their slime can enable them to glide over very sharp objects but some surfaces are hard work for them and dry up their slime.

Creating a barrier of crushed egg shells, sawdust, sharp grit / sand, ash are all tactics you could try. You can imagine these products either drying out the slime or just being plain hard work. Watch out for the barrier being destroyed by rain though which is when your slugs will be out in force.

An alternative slug control barrier is a vertical one. Take old pop bottles and cut four inch strips of plastic. Straighten them out and half bury them in the soil as a vertical barrier around your bed. This is going to take quite a lot of plastic bottles but it could work well if you have the patience. You will have to clear the area inside the barrier for a while until you get it clear but once this is done hopefully your asparagus will be slug free.

Another technique ( that is probably not going to be much use for an asparagus bed as it will be too big) is the use of copper for slug control. Apparently something in slug slime reacts with copper to give them a little electric shock. Needless to say they are not very keen on this. So a copper barrier is needed. You can buy copper adhesive tape to place around your tubs or raised beds. You can also buy copper feet for your tubs to stand your tubs on and copper rings that you place around the stems of plants or whole plants.

4. Get predators to do the work for you….

Toad on slug patrol

Slugs lay eggs, these eggs and baby slugs make a good meal for a bird so encourage birds into your garden, likewise hedgehogs, frogs and toads. Some beetles will eat the eggs as well so again encourage a range of wildlife in your garden. This little toad needed re-housing after we found him hiding under a bag!

Nematode Slug Killer can be applied to control your nuisance slugs. These are microscopic organisms that you apply to your garden and work away without you seeing them to clear soil living troublemakers including slugs.

5. Chemical meansof Slug Control

Whilst slug pellets do the job reasonably effectively, environmentally they are not top of the list. The chemicals in the pellets are harmful to many of the good wildlife living in your garden as well as the slugs. So use sparingly and carefully if you must. Natural slug pellets are available.

Gus enjoying Asparagus SeasonGus enjoying Asparagus Season

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