Monty Don shares ways to stop slugs eating young plants
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Slugs can be a nuisance in the garden, causing damage to crops, flowers and bulbs. Although it can be hard to completely eradicate the problem, gardeners can take measures to try and minimise the damage. Shannen Godwin, a gardening expert at one of the leading plant and bulb companies in the UK, J Parker’s, explained: “Slugs are actually active all year round.
“However, gardeners tend to notice slug activity during springtime.
“Slugs prefer the warm and damp weather that spring brings and thrive on all of the seedlings, bulbs and new growth on plants, which makes their damage more noticeable in spring.”
In the majority of cases, gardeners can become annoyed with slugs because of the damage to plants.
Slugs particularly like young plants and seedlings.
Dahlias, lettuces, sweet peas and hostas are also a favourite for slugs.
The expert added: “However, slugs can cause further problems. For example, the slime trail that slugs leave causes harm to pets when ingested. Pets can suffer vomiting and excessive drool.
“Slugs can also carry the parasite, rat lungworm, which can pass on to pets and even humans, this is why it’s always important to thoroughly wash the fruits and vegetables you grow in the garden.”
Gardeners can take preventative measures now to help protect their garden, including sowing back-up seeds.
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According to Shannen, sowing back-up seeds will mean if slugs attack seedlings, gardeners will still have some leftover to replant.
The expert added: “There are lots of garden birds and animals that love to feed on slugs. Hedgehogs, blackbirds, starlings, thrushes and even frogs and toads will enjoy your slugs and will help you keep the slug populations down.
“If you can, adding habitats for these slug predators to thrive can help you to naturally control slug infestations. This may mean adding a pond to your garden, building a log for hedgehogs, increasing a compost heap or adding hedges, shrubs and trees to your garden.
“While you’re waiting for spring gardening activities, now is the perfect time to plan how to add habitats that will attract wildlife to your space.”
Mulching is also a “fantastic way” to protect plants from slugs, especially if a sharp barrier with the mulch is created.
Shannen explained: “Sharp grit, ash and bark can help to ring fence your plants, and most slugs will not cross over the barrier.
“Wood pellets, cat litter and coffee grounds are other mulch materials you can try. However, remember that while this can prevent slugs on the surface, slugs bury underground so it won’t eliminate the risk entirely.”
Gardeners wanting to reduce slug populations can also turn over the soil, which will expose slug eggs buried in the ground.
The expert added: “It is almost impossible to completely eradicate slugs from your garden, but you can create a slug-free zone.
“If you have a patio or gravel area in the garden, this can be a great place to establish your plants in pots until they’re hardy enough for other areas of your garden.”
As well as using gravel, beer traps, eggshells and garlic can also be used.
Salt and seaweed are other food items which can help to keep slugs away, although salt can be damaging for plants if it comes in contact.
Gardeners may want to consider planting slug-resistant plants too such as roses, ferns, hydrangeas and grasses.
Shannen said: “Aromatic herbs are usually great to plant next to your vegetables and seedings. For example, mint and chives can be helpful for companionship between rows of vegetables.”
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