Go Organic: Wet weather brings out slugs and snailsBy James Ashford
June 15, 2012
Keen students of the British weather will have noticed that it has been quite a wet start to the summer.
Barbecues have been left unlit and most of us have remained untroubled by the hosepipe ban.
If you don’t mind getting damp it’s actually pretty good weather for gardening. My lawn has never been greener and, with the temperature rising, the vegetable garden is starting to come on nicely.
The downside is that mild, wet weather is also very good for slugs and snails. They travel on a lubricating layer of slime and find it much easier to get about when the ground is wet.
Slugs and snails can wreak havoc with your young vegetable plants.
They tend to go for the soft new growth and can quickly munch their way through a row of freshly planted seedlings.
Organic growers don’t use metaldehyde slug pellets.
Not only are they poisonous to slugs, but they will also kill the creatures which eat slugs.
They are also poisonous to dogs and cats.
Instead we use a range of techniques to keep the pests under control.
This year has been a good one for using nematodes.
These are naturally occurring microscopic worms which kill slugs.
They arrive by mail-order and you mix them with water and water them into the soil.
In farm trials they have been shown to be as effective as metaldehyde pellets, but they don’t kill snails and they don’t work well in heavy clay soils.
Traps are also effective at this time of year, especially if you can put them close to any vulnerable plants.
I use drinks cans with the tops cut off baited with beer.
You do need to empty and refill them once or twice a week, but the traps certainly catch a lot of slugs.
During the long June evenings you can also take a torch and go slug hunting.
Slugs and snails are creatures of habit and return to the same spot to feed night after night.
By picking them off plants and killing them you can reduce some of the damage they do.