Monty Don shares ways to stop slugs eating young plants
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Slugs are the bane of gardeners’ lives, regularly topping surveys of garden pests. They munch the new growth of precious plants, demolish seedlings overnight and munch irregularly-shaped holes in leaves, stems, flowers, tubers and bulbs and potatoes, leaving their silvery slime trails behind. While there are chemical treatments to get rid of these pests, it is always advised to try out natural home remedies first.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Deborah Looi, a plant expert and founder of GardeningCollective shared her top five “effective home remedies” to stop pesky slugs “destroying” gardens.
She explained: “Slugs and snails are one of the biggest pests in the garden because they eat plant roots. This can cause plants to suffer from malnutrition and poor growth, as well as decreased yields.
“Slugs also spread disease by eating infectious microorganisms that grow on plant surfaces. Fortunately, there are effective home remedies that you can employ to stop slugs from destroying your beloved garden for good.”
Five ways to get rid of slugs in the garden:
1. Water your garden in the morning
A lot of research has been done on the subject of slug control and the general consensus is that watering the garden in the morning is “one of the most effective ways” to get rid of them, says Deborah.
She explained: “One reason why this strategy works is that slugs are inactive during daylight hours. Secondly, water travels farther through the soil when it’s wetter, which helps to reach any areas where slugs may be hiding and finally, rainfall causes liquid Entomophaga maimaiga (slug livers) to release an odour that attracts other slug predators like birds or cats.
“So whether you’re looking for a natural way to eliminate your slug problems or just want to make sure they don’t hit your plants too hard from time to time, giving them a good soak in the morning might be your best bet!”
2. Use copper wire
Copper wire in the garden is touted as the best barrier solution. Copper mesh repels snails and slugs with an unfavourable reaction when they try to cross it, much like a shock.
They turn and head the other way. However, copper will deteriorate, and it will need to be replaced at some point.
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The gardening pro said: “Copper wire is effective at repelling slugs because it emits an acidic smell that the slug finds unpalatable. This chemical reaction causes the slime coating on the slug’s skin to decompose which then leaves it open to attack by other predators or parasites.
“In addition to being an effective deterrent, the copper wire does not harm beneficial insects such as slug mites, ladybugs, or praying mantis larvae that eat slugs as part of their diet.”
3. Coffee grounds
Coffee grounds have long been discussed as an effective measure to deter slugs and snails. The caffeine in coffee grounds is said to be toxic to slugs and in smaller doses, it can slow them down.
Other experts claim coffee grounds stimulate their mucus production, which can deter them from crawling over.
Deborah said: “Coffee grounds are highly effective at getting rid of slugs because they contain a high concentration of nitrogen.
“Slug populations thrive in environments with low concentrations of oxygen, so by adding coffee beans to your garden and soil, you can deprive the slugs of their food source and help to control them.”
Coffee also contains caffeine, which is an insecticide that kills slug larvae as well as other insects.
4. Planting herbs
Slug baiting is a method that involves planting certain plants in areas where slugs are known to congregate. The plants release a scent that attracts the slugs, and when they feed on the plant, they absorb the toxins from it.
The gardening expert explained: “This solution can be used both indoors and outdoors, and it’s an effective way of getting rid of slug populations without using harmful chemicals or traps.
“One common herb used for slug bait is cilantro, which has strong odour molecules that repel them and many creatures. Other herbs that can be used for this purpose include garlic cloves, spearmint leaves, oregano, sagebrush, mints like peppermint oil, and green tea extract.”
5. Beer trap
Beer traps are a great way to rid your garden of slugs and snails. Slugs and snails feed on plants, so by baiting the traps with beer, you’re essentially trapping them and then killing them, says Deborah.
She continued: “This is an environmentally-friendly option because it doesn’t use any pesticides or fertilisers, and it’s also effective because alcohol suffocates these pests.
“Brewing your own beer trap is easy to do. All you need is some fresh fruit juice (such as apple cider) mixed with just enough water to create a froth. You can put this mixture in small bowls or jars that have been lined with paper towel layers, then place them outdoors near slug habitats like under trees or inside gardens where slugs love to crawl. Over time, the bait will attract slugs and kill them by intoxicating their systems.”
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