I've tried every solution to slug and snail control - and nothing works!
- Credit: Archant
Every gardener will at some point need to cross swords with all types of garden pests.
Be it asparagus beetle decimating your luxury crop or the crafty pigeons breaking into your neatly fenced-off brassica patch and fattening up for winter.
Walk past any plot or garden and you will see evidence of defences against pests such as netting, pellets or even a fruit cage.
Fruit cages tend to trap birds in rather than keep them out at times, I've found.
If there was a choice to remove one pest from the garden it would probably be the slug or snail.
They are slippery stealth bombers who appear after dark or rain and can make most seedlings disappear after dark.
Young and tender sunflowers and lettuce seem to be their favourite in my experience although they readily feed off decaying matter as a redeeming factor.
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For many gardeners, the kneejerk response to finding stumps where plants used to be is biological warfare in the shape of pellets.
They are at best only mildly effective, they can also be harmful to more sought-after animals in the garden such as hedgehogs or thrushes that eat the infected slugs and snails.
I have tried every solution to slug and snail control and only a few seem to be effective on any level.
Slugs and snails can lay between 400 and 600 eggs a year depending on how much slime from other slugs they come across.
They have a highly sophisticated, built-in mechanism for managing their population.
I'm not an expert but in short, the more slime they cross over the less they feel they need to reproduce. Less slime has the opposite effect.
Much of our efforts make little or no difference to the population.
I was hopeful of midnight sorties with a torch and a bucket before letting them loose somewhere miles away, hoping I wasn't asked to explain to the police about a bucket of molluscs in the passenger seat.
I stopped this after a friend told me he had put nail varnish on them to identify individuals and they reappeared in his garden after being abandoned several miles away.
Beer traps are a kind idea but I didn’t catch a single one in mine.
I also bought some second-hand roof tiles for them to congregate under but nothing in two years!
Watering the plot with nematodes who are a parasitic worm that attack the slugs and snails from within is expensive and, again, are indiscriminate in what they prefer as a host.
Once engaged in challenging these efficient molluscs, you are quickly drawn into the dark arts if you’re not careful.
Copper rings around plants can give them a small snail-sized electric shock and deters them from individual plants.
Sand or egg shells around plants has been about the best deterrent I've found as they don’t seem to like the grit under their feet.
Placing tender plants on a table and in a container with an inch of water can be effective too.
We can only wish for a very cold winter as they really don’t like the cold.
Make sure that you keep the garden tidy to remove any hiding places for them to keep snug and warm.
The mild and wet winters we have in Torbay really suit them down to the ground.
I'm only surprised we don’t possess a breed of super snail given ideal conditions.
I’ve recently found them 12ft up a banana tree hiding in wait for darkness or rain.
In short, they are amazing creatures that we probably have to learn to live with.
They are a natural part of our ecosystem and way too advanced for us to be messing with.
Like weeds and other undesirables such as rats and mice, they have a distinct resilience that is as admirable as it is annoying.