by Jane Moore

I've given up on my slug pub (a dish of beer I used to lure them to their death) - it doesn't seem to pull in the crowds in wet weather.

Garden pests - slugWhat a magnificent year it's been for slugs. The slug population on my plot is reaching epidemic proportions, with many at least the size of small elephants - well 10cm or more in length anyway.

I'm so disheartened by their relentless devouring of my crops - they're unstoppable. Everywhere I look, they seem to be lurking in every damp spot, under every leaf and even - to my horror - hanging off bean leaves several feet from the ground. I can't seem to move without finding an enormous slug. I've stood on them accidentally and even squished them with my hands when weeding (truly revolting). It makes me shudder to think about it!

I've given up on my slug pub (a dish of beer I used to lure them to their death) - it doesn't seem to pull in the crowds in wet weather. And even my trusty copper rings aren't as effective as usual, due to such huge numbers. The rain has washed away the barrier gel and grit circles I also had in place around my lettuces.

I also suspect that even the marvellous nematodes are struggling to keep their heads above water. Usually I find a spring dose of nematodes sorts out the worst of the problem and keeps the little blighters at bay while my plants get established. But this year it's not just the little blighters that are wreaking havoc - it's the big ones. I fear I'm losing ground - literally!

At least there's no sign of the awful ghost slug, which has been spotted across the Severn in South Wales. This horror eats earth worms, which would spell disaster for many soils and is thought to have arrived in potted plants from abroad.

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Talkback: Slugs
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Gardeners' World Web User 09/08/2008 at 17:32

I can't help laughing at all the articles I keep reading on slugs and snails and what people do to them, I've not give up and I think some people {nieghbours} may think I'm mad in and out at night and half grapefruit skins between plants all over our garden because the slugs in the garden at the moment love them I collect between 4 and 6 each night these are what I call monster slug size and then the odd snail and 3 or 4 small ones I have collected up to 9 some nights but they're easy to see because the grapefruit skins are so bright.These seem to work any weather unlike garlic spray which is no good with all this rain, the only thing with grapefruits is you have to keep replacing them so I do buy a lot of them but slugs have never been so easy to catch,the big ones stick to them and the small ones go under them I lift them up to look under them in the daytime and always get a few so give them a go I have them in the flower beds as well as next to peas.

Gardeners' World Web User 05/09/2008 at 19:26

Oh gosh, please don't give up. It took me four years to gain the upper hand on slugs and snails. Slug pubs are great, but they need to be placed a good distance away from your yummy plants, you want your unwanted guests to die before they dine. Make a wee umbrella lid for the slug pubs using the top of a carton or whatever comes to hand. I go out every evening and despatch any slugs and snails I come across, either by stamping on them, salting them, or spearing them (pin taped to a stick) and dropping them in a wee container of salty water. Some peope report success with coffee grounds, I have not yet tried this, I am waiting for more info on how it might affect the soil conditions. Garlic wash is another thing to try, the recipe will be available if you use a search engine, it does not leave a lasting taste in crops but it does put slugs and snails off for a while. I use it every ten days. Keep the very surface of soil ruffled up to expose any small slugs or eggs. Birds will soon come in to look for them or on dry days they will dry out and die. I garden for wildlife, but even caterpillers drive me up the wall at times, I relocate them to a nettle patch across the road :0) Do some lateral thinking and please don't give up. XX

Gardeners' World Web User 05/09/2008 at 21:01

I am so glad I am not the only one suffering with slugs. I was out in the garden earlier this evening and bearing in mind most slugs do nto show themselves until twilight/dark I was amazed by the sheer quantity. Everywhere I turned there was another slug and they are huge. Normally this time of year I cannot eat courgettes fast ensough, this year the slugs are beating me to them.

Gardeners' World Web User 07/09/2008 at 18:45

Far away here in Southern California I feel your pain! Except mine comes with shells, I am completely overun with snails. Here, we get your magazine a month late, and recently I burst out laughing reading Alan Titchmarsh's July article about his war with snails. I bought expensive copper rings which didn't even slow them down. I let the nasturtiums grow over a portion of the yard just for them - it did nothing but turn into a snail party central, from which they could plan their attack. I put overturned plastic juice bottles over saplings, worked great until I removed them and found the carnage the very next morning, not one of $100 worth of dahlia tubers survived. Trying to stay away from poison I gave in and bought a ridiculosly expensive container of preditor snails which are supposed to eat the brown ones I have. I think it was like putting a band-aide over a bullet wound. I tried coffee grounds, and find the potency of the coffee only works for about a day or two. Starbuck's here in the US gives away 'Grounds for the Garden', which is their used grounds, and I pick up bags quite often. It smells great and feeds the soil but I think I just end up with caffinated jittery snails. I have 3 small children and together we wonder at the marvels of nature and the seemingly peaceful exsistence of garden critters so killing them is out of the question. I throw hundreds in the green waste bins each week and figure I am giving them a 50-50 shot if they can escape from the municipal composter. They eat everything BUT the weeds. So, I too have given in. I won't stop gardening, but I have no idea what to do next except await the next issue of your wonderful magazine.

Gardeners' World Web User 08/09/2008 at 11:32

Like Jane Moore the slugs on my allotment are HUGE! Our two resident toads are so fat with trying to keep the population down they can hardly move! It is so disheartening to have whole rows of lettuce devoured in the space of hours but I won't give up, just keep on replanting and replanting and replanting!

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