Dealing with slugs and snails

by Pippa Greenwood

My slug visitor has thrown me into mollusc mania. I'm collecting slugs, snails and their eggs...

ChickenI’ve just been outside picking strawberries. Despite the colder nights my plants are still fruiting away and I hope they’ll have enough energy left to fruit again at the right time next year.

None of the fruits have been damaged by birds – perhaps because the birds don’t expect the strawberries to be there, or maybe there are plenty of other fruits to get their beaks around.

The same can’t be said of the molluscs, which are out in force, enjoying the unusually mild and moist conditions. The slugs and snails are attacking my fruit, but are investing the most energy in munching my overwintering brassicas and winter lettuce.

We even found a slug sliming its way across the kitchen floor, having stowed away in some apples we had brought inside to put through the fruit press. I suppose I should just be pleased it crawled out before the apples were turned into juice.

My slug visitor has thrown me into mollusc mania. I’m collecting slugs, snails and their eggs, and feeding them to the chickens.

In theory you can still apply the biological control nematode at the end of October. Even though it’s still mild, I’m not going to risk a late application, fond as I am of using this method to control slugs. It could be a waste of money if the temperature goes down.

Constant patrols are the best solution right now - it's amazing how many slugs and snails you can find in half an hour. Whilst kids collect football cards, I am addicted to mollusc collecting. And the extra protein must be good for the hens.

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Gardeners' World Web User 02/11/2011 at 13:59

I put the bad slugs (big or small black ones)out on the paths for the birds. I have robins and blackbirds who come to feed at this time of year from my a la carte menu. Any slugs with a yellow stomach are given leave to remain in the garden as these are beneficial. The berries this year are very abundant, but my bird colony likes to eat the grapes I have left on the vine for them first. Even the little black ornamental grapes on the front wall have been devoured. But then our mini heatwave in October made the grapes very sweet this year. I'm sure feeding your chickens such lovely protein from your snails will give you very rich orange yolks in your eggs Pippa. I don't mind that but cannot bear them being squashed underfoot

Gardeners' World Web User 02/11/2011 at 14:02

ps While I am collecting huge Bramblies this afternoon I must look for srawberries - thanks for the reminder.

Gardeners' World Web User 02/11/2011 at 15:01

I found not only strawberries to eat but lots more not quite ripe yet and lots in full flower. I think I might dig those plants up and plant them in pots to put in the conservatory with the hope of home-grown strawberries for Xmas. Do you think that would work, Pippa, or will there not be enough light?

Gardeners' World Web User 02/11/2011 at 16:12

And don't forget green tomatoes. I made a fabulous soup yesterday from all the remaining greenies!

Gardeners' World Web User 02/11/2011 at 19:48

I tried using nematode for the first time this year and it was fantastic - I shall definately use it again next year - the only downside is that it can be a little pricey, but it did save my precious crops! The strawberries and soup sound wonderful!

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