Monty Don shares ways to stop slugs eating young plants
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According to Miracle-Gro, it is estimated that the average garden can contain as many as 20,000 slugs. They particularly like vegetables that gardeners spend a long time growing, including lettuces, cabbages and young brassicas like broccoli and cauliflower. In fact, slugs prefer young plants because they taste better to the slug. Finding the best way to combat slugs without the use of harsh chemicals can be challenging, but gardening guru Kate Turner from Miracle-Gro has shared tips on how to minimise slug damage.
With spring in full force and the weather getting warmer, gardeners will have begun sowing all kinds of seeds, including fruit and vegetables.
To protect young seedlings and plants from slugs, the gardening expert suggested using “homemade cloches”.
She said: “Plastic bottles with the bottoms and tops cut off can be used and are a great way of recycling too.
“If growing in pots, always check the rims and the bottoms as slugs and snails love to hide there.
“If you find any slug eggs, put them out for the birds, they love them.”
The bigger the bottle, the longer it can offer protection for the plant before becoming too small for the plant to grow inside.
What’s more, this method can also protect plants from the late frost areas of the UK are experiencing.
Fruit punnets could also be used to keep slugs off seedlings.
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Using this homemade barrier is not only a “cheap” way to keep garden pests away but it is also “effective”.
The expert continued: “Encourage natural predators into your garden such as hedgehogs, frogs, toads and blackbirds.
“A wildlife pond will really help to attract these predators into your garden.”
Going out at night to collect slugs can also help to keep them out of the garden.
Kate added: “Don’t throw them over the neighbour’s fence though as it’s been found that slugs are a bit like homing pigeons, and you will need to be able to throw them over 20 metres to stop them travelling back to you.”
Instead, they could be taken to a local park.
Gardeners could also grow plants in their outdoor spaces which slugs despise, such as rosemary.
Growing these near susceptible plants can help to protect crops.
The expert said: “It’s been found that they hate the smell of plants like rosemary and fennel so it can be used as a deterrent, this is known as companion planting.”
Slug-resistant plants can also be found in garden centres.
Kate explained: “If you must, grow hostas then grow the large leaved ones such as Hosta Sieboldiana. These are much tougher and slugs find them harder to munch.”
Before planting out in spring, gardeners should also remove weeds and old leaves or debris from the area.
This is because weeds act as a great hiding place for slugs.
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