It’s no wonder that slugs and snails can be the scourge of the vegetable patch in summer because we want to grow what they want to eat. They love broad-leaved plants that are sweet-tasting and fast growing, so plants at risk include lettuces, peas and beans, potatoes and other tubers and in the flower garden dahlias, delphiniums, hostas, and sweet peas.
Prevention always being better than cure, it’s good to encourage wildlife that does the pest control for you such as birds, frogs, hedgehogs, slowworms and ground beetles. We all want to reduce our dependence on pesticides these days and there are many ‘home remedies’ that we can try to discourage these greedy gastropods.
Encircling seedlings and young plants with grit or eggshells, or moisture-absorbent materials such as wool can discourage snails and slugs on the soil surface. Coffee grounds may also help.
Slugs and snails do not like to cross copper (this works best with plants in pots).
filled with beer or bait. Sink a jar part-way into the ground (not all the way as beetles can fall in) and partially fill with beer.
Removing by hand.
Venture out at night with your torch and pick them off by hand.
For slugs that live under the soil you can either try regular cultivation to bring them and their eggs up to the surface where they can be eaten by predators, or biological controls – nematodes (microscopic parasitic worms) that are watered into the soil where they seek out slugs to infect.
Ferric phosphate pellets are certified as organic and are less toxic to wildlife than Methaldehyde pellets.
Researchers at the Royal Horticultural Society are going to scientifically test traditional remedies such as these to see if they are based on science or myth. The results will be available in the autumn.