Sunday, May 11, 2008

The (organic) slug battle plan

Most of our veggies this year will be grown either in the two raised beds or in pots. This does make life a little bit easier when it comes to creating a fortress to keep out the dreaded slugs.

I tried nematodes last year which definitely seemed to help and in the end I managed to raise a good crop of salad without it all being decimated by slugs so this will be part of my slug defence strategy this year. Gardeners' World a few weeks ago were showing their attempts at protecting veg crops by using a variety of things including used coffee granules and beer traps I think.

It seems the only way to try and guarantee a fairly decent defence is to go with a multi thronged approach. So, my plan is this:

NEMATODES: I have ordered a 12-week treatment pack of nematodes for the raised beds. This kills the slugs and baby slugs that are beneath the soil to stop them rising up at night and eating everything.

COPPER TAPE: The top outer edge of the raised beds and any pots have a double-thick (so around 2 inch) band of copper tape. The really long slugs can actually bend over one thickness of the tape and climb over... I've witnessed this.

COMFREY LEAVES: This is a new one for me. I've read that slugs can't get enough of comfrey leaves and will make a beeline for them. I'm currently growing some comfrey plants which initially I got as I want to make an organic liquid fertilizer using the leaves, however apparently, if you pick of a handful of leaves and leave these on the ground in the same place every night for say a week, the slugs will keep going back there. After a few nights, I'll add a couple of beer traps there too and try and capture as many as possible. Then, you have to go out after dark and basically shovel up all of the slugs munching on the comfrey leaves and dispose of them.

BEER TRAPS: I'll be putting a beer trap in each raised bed too as an extra measure as I've heard that these can be pretty effective. If you are not familiar with these, they are basically a sunken pot filled with beer which attracts the slugs. I'll be cutting off the bottom of the plastic milk cartons to make these then sinking them down in the soil enough for slugs to get in.

Although all of these methods are organic, there is an argument for whether killing slugs is organic I guess. My thought on this is that I am only using these methods in small areas of the garden to protect my veggie crops. Slugs are a massive problem and it is either them or my crops!


Nicole said...

I haven't had a problem with slugs (Yet, crossing my fingers) but cabbage worms have already destroyed a few cabbage plants and broccoli :( :( :( :(

Jonathan said...

I've ordered some nematodes. In the meantime I've been going out just before dark/early morning and have been manually picking them off.

Barbara said...

Hi, I've been battling slugs for years, too, and have found that the only really effective (and definitely organic) measures are 1) to put physical slug barriers around plants or entire beds, and 2) only plant things they don't like. To this purpose I've purchased "slug collars" and slug fences, both of which have an angled rim they can't get over. Nothing else has really worked for me. A few die in beer traps, but myriads more follow. They sneer at coffee grounds and copper. Hunting and snipping is really no fun. You can find lists of things they don't like on the web, although this can vary regionally, I've heard. Good luck with yours.