Yes my gardening nemesis of 2012 is the humble old slug. Until this year, a slug was a mild inconvenience to be kept away from brussel sprouts and hostas but our soggy summer has provided sluggy nirvana leaving my garden looking like the set from a horticultural horror film.
Followers may recall back in May (when we still thought the wet spring was just a blip) I blogged about home-made methods of deterring slugs…crushed eggshells, coffee grinds, beer traps, bran, human hair, citrus peel, sharp sand, copper tape….the list is endless. Looking back, I laugh at my naivity ha ha ha ha ha.
However, I take some delight….sorry, comfort… in reading about many professional and celebrity gardeners who are also suffering at the hands of our slimy sluggy pals. The only people rubbing their hands with glee are the garden centre owners who have experienced a 74% increase in sales of slug pellets. Even a landscape gardener friend bemoaned the fact that this is the first year in 30 years of gardening he has had to use slug pellets.
Estimates indicate the slug population of the UK has increased three-fold and, if that was not bad enough, apparently now we are being invaded by a voracious, aggressive Spanish super slug which is breeding with our native slugs to create a powerful, highly fertile breed that will overrun the country…aaaarrrrgggghhhh!
For me though, slug pellets are just not an option. We have cats, the neighbour’s two dogs (who frequently run through our garden when they escape!), numerous varieties of birds plus deer, foxes, squirrels etc.
I walked around the garden one evening. Now picture this analogy…a pod of hundreds of dolphins breaking the waves as far as the eye can see…now for the waves substitute my front lawn and for the dolphins substitute slugs. That is what it looked like.
I put my gloves on, got a 9″ pot and wandered round the garden picking up every slug I could find. Then I dropped them into a bucket of water thinking they would drown. I was sad but it was them or my veggies and I’m not giving up cauliflower cheese for anything! The next night I did the same but when it came to “bath time” I found 15 slugs that should have drowned the night before, climbing out of the bucket! They are indestructable!
In my desperation I turned to the font of all knowledge…Google. I came across this blog:
This guy actually took the time to try all of the methods and prove (with photographic evidence) that none of them work. The only sure way to get rid of slugs is to slice them in half. Coincidentally, the next day I heard Terry Walton, BBC Radio 2′s allotment gardener, on the radio saying he goes out at night with his knife and cuts them in half. Brutally, if they are dead, they are not eating your plants!
So every evening, just as the lights fades, I dig deep (pardon the pun) and bring out my Freddie Kruger alter ego…Fifi the slasher princess…and I either jump on them with my wellie boots on and squash them or cut them in half with the scissors. It was horrible at first but I console myself with this comforting fact, gleened from a man who has dedicated his life to finding the best way to eradicate slugs…….slugs are high in protein and all that “green” that they eat is high in nitrogen. Better to reuse their resources and recycle the nutrients back into the garden.
I reckon by next year I will have the most fertile garden in the country!