Zena Robson, Woodborough Garden Centre - Different ways to stop the slugs

Didiscus caerulea, seen growing with Ammi visnaga, has  become an unfortunate target of garden pests

Didiscus caerulea, seen growing with Ammi visnaga, has become an unfortunate target of garden pests

First published in News

I have been at war! Slugs and snails abound – they are not normally too much of a problem in my garden but the wetness and the mildness of last year has meant that they are abundant.

Not only that, they are hungry! It has become obvious that my lovely Didiscus plants, grown from seed, have a flashing light bearing the title ‘Eat Me’ above them. I put them in my pots but they have still been got-at.

Fortunately I had spares so could replace the ones that got chomped. Then I armed myself with some copper adhesive tape –I am not really a fan of pellets and always look for an alternative.

Of course, it does not tell one exactly how to apply the tape. Yes, it says ‘leave an overlap’ and ‘make sure the pot is clean and dry’ , but does it say ‘do not peel the backing off in one go’? No, it does not.

Do not peel the backing off in one go! It corkscrews into an unusable coppery mess that has cost you a couple of quid. Peel about 4” away and apply the sticky copper tape to the pot. Gently firm it, and then pull off the backing as you go.

The idea is the slug/snail receives a small shock when its slimy foot comes into contact with it. It acts as encouragement to go elsewhere rather than as a killer.

According to the brilliant Pippa Greenwood, if you go for beer traps, Guinness is a favourite (for the slugs and snails – I don’t know about Pippa).

She is also a keen advocate of Nemaslug. This is nematode-based – nematodes are microscopic eelworms present in soils anyway. They only kill slugs, not snails, and have to be ordered through the post and arrive, freeze-dried, to be rehydrated and applied to the soil.

The other thing to be aware of is the rim of pots. If your pots have a turn-down rim on the outside, that is the perfect place for a snail or ten to hide during the day, ready to emerge, refreshed and looking for a snack, at night.

Run your finger around the rim every day, and I mean every day, to remove offenders. Lift up foliage on growing plants and have a good look. If something is having a go, and it is at all possible, then lift the pot up and look underneath it. You may be horribly surprised.

And at this time of year, deadhead, deadhead, deadhead. This is not just whipping a faded flowerhead off.

Instead, go down to a leaf joint and remove it cleanly from there. That way, it’s a bit like pruning. You will encourage more flowers.

Watering and feeding are also key, especially for hanging baskets. Hopefully, they will have been stuffed full of plants to ensure a good show, but remember that they are all competing for the little bit of food in the compost so help them along by feeding once a week with a high potash feed and watering every day.

If it’s hot, windy or both, you’ll need to do it twice – morning and evening.

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