Gardening: How to deal with slugs in your garden and prevent them from damaging plants

Gardening expert details natural ways to deal with slugs

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With more people spending time in their gardens throughout the pandemic, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) saw an 88 percent increase in pest and disease enquiries last year. The organisation found that slugs and snails were the most popular pests in Britons’ gardens, and they reached the top spot in its 25th annual pest and disease ranking list.

Slugs and snails have returned as Britain’s number one garden pest for the first time since 2017.

Gardeners reported damage to crops such as potatoes and beans, and ornamentals including clematis and hosta, the RHS revealed.

However, the organisation has shared its top tips on how to deal with slugs in your garden and prevent them from damaging your plants.

There are many non-chemical methods you can undertake to reduce the amount of slugs in your garden, or get rid of them altogether.

The RHS stated that one of the most important things to remember about slugs is that they feed at night and leave slime trails and irregular holes in plant tissue, making you aware of their activity.

Slugs enjoy eating a wide range of vegetables and plants, including sweet peas, dahlias, gerberas, and tulips.

They also feed on garden peas, beans, lettuce, celery, and potato tubers.

To stop slugs from damaging your crops you can use a biological control specific to molluscs which has no adverse effect on other types of animals.

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This is available in the form of a microscopic nematode or eelworm that is watered into the soil.

The nematodes enter slugs’ bodies and infect them with bacteria that cause a fatal disease.

To water the nematodes into the soil, the soil must be moist and warm.

Nematodes are available from refrigerated cabinets in some garden centres, or by mail from suppliers of biological controls, according to the RHS.

Another non-chemical control is to hand-pick slugs into a container.

This can be done with a torchlight on mild evenings, especially when the weather is damp.

After picking up the slugs, you can take them to a field far away from your garden or kill them in the freezer.

Some animals, such as birds, frogs, toads, and hedgehogs eat slugs, therefore they should be encouraged to live in your garden.

Raking over soil and removing leaves that have fallen during winter can allow birds to eat slugs and their eggs more easily.

Traps can also be used as a measure to get rid of slugs from your garden.

Traps can be made at home using a scooped out half orange, grapefruit, or melon skin, which can be laid with the cut side down on the grass or soil.

You can also use empty jam jars filled with a little beer and sink them into the soil near your plants.

The RHS advised checking and emptying these regularly, preferably every morning.

Many gardening experts and horticulturists have advised using the jam jar trick in the past, including Adam Pasco.

In a video for B&Q in 2015, Adam recommended sinking a jam jar filled with a little “bitter beer” in the soil to act as a slug trap.

He said: “What you’ll find is they’re attracted to the smell of the beer they will crawl along, go and have a nice drink and die happy drowned in the alcohol below.

“When you find some slugs in there, again, you can literally put the top on and just throw that away in the dustbin.

“Do also check each day because you can find that little beetles and some of the nice insects in the garden can crawl in there so just hook them out and save them.

“Otherwise, it’s a good way of controlling slugs naturally.”

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