Louise gave me some plants a few weeks ago that I have been diligently nurturing in my garden. Yesterday evening I went to water them, only to find one of my seedlings has been munched to bits by a slug! Take a look at some of the damage they've caused:
There is nothing more dismaying than to find your seedlings or newly-introduced plants have been damaged by slugs. This could be particularly upsetting if you or your child is new to gardening, as it can leave you wondering what on earth you did wrong.
Let us tell you: you didn’t do anything wrong. Slugs are a persistent nuisance and even the most experienced gardeners have trouble with them. Slugs feed on leaves, decaying matter, fungi (really, anything they can find), and our young seedlings are among their favourite meals.
Unfortunately, slugs are impossible to eliminate and so some damage to your plants will always happen. The good news is that lots of tips and tricks can help you keep these pesky pests – and the damage they cause – to a minimum. The Royal Horticultural Society has some excellent advice on how to minimise slug damage and safely keep their numbers under control.
Our favourite trick is to sink plastic cups filled about half full with beer into the soil surrounding particularly vulnerable plants. Any beer will do. We like to use cheap bitter – at least the slugs seem to like it! You’ll be surprised at how many slugs will have crawled into the cup overnight: so many that you will probably need to change it every morning during warmer weather.
As unlikely as it sounds, the slugs are as attracted to beer’s sweet, fermented smell as moths are to a flame. This is because slugs naturally feed on decaying matter, and the fermented, overripe, yeasty smell of beer smells just irresistible for them.
Another way you can keep the slugs at bay may be to attract hedgehogs to your garden. Hedgehogs are helpful garden visitors, as they eat snails, slugs, caterpillars, and a variety of other garden nuisances. Why not put a hedgehog house in your garden to encourage them to visit, and give these charming little creatures a safe place to hide away from predators.
Give the beer trick a go if you are struggling with slugs, and let us know how you get on! If you have any tips of your own, do get in touch - we’d love to hear from you!