Gardening tips: How to protect your plants from slugs this spring

Phil Spencer provides tips on improving a garden on a budget

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Slugs can cause problems in the garden, damaging a wide range of plants throughout the year. But seedlings and new spring plant growth are most at risk. How can you protect your garden from slugs?

Most slugs 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.

Luckily, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has put together some tips and tricks of how to control slugs, helping to protect your plants from the slimy creatures.

There are some non-chemical ways to protect your garden from slugs.

A biological control specific to molluscs, with no adverse effect on other types of animal, 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.

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There are other non-chemical controls that are often used by gardeners, but they are not backed by scientific evidence to prove that they work.

One of these controls is transplanting sturdy plantlets grown on in pots, instead of young vulnerable seedlings.

Another measure 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 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.

Additionally, chemical pesticides such as slug pellets can be used to attempt to eradicate slugs.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, gardeners can scatter slug pellets thinly around vulnerable plants.

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