Come Out, I’m Ready


Why is there never a slug about when you want one? Having decided to write about pest prevention ahead of the gardening season, I set off to find a photograph of my nemesis. Poking around in all the likely places, digging deep in an attempt to haul one out ready for its appointment with internet fame and glory. But no. Not one. They are all hibernating. Sleeping off last year’s ridiculous overindulgence. Taking advantage of the current dearth of munching opportunities. Waiting for me to plant out my beans.


Last year I tried everything to get them to move on. We used every type of slug deterrent known to man. Eggshells, coffee grounds, gravel, bits of the thorny berberis bush, copper rings, moisture absorbing granules. All to no avail. As you know, it’s not in my nature to harm any living thing. But what about the weeks invested in sowing, pricking out and planting. Only for the slugs to get fatter and for me to have to go to Waitrose for the veg? Enough was enough. After much soul searching I resorted to biological warfare. Nematodes.

Well WHAT a palaver… first you’re supposed to tip the contents of the packet into a bucket and add 4 litres of water to make up a stock solution. The nematodes are microscopic, but even if I can’t see them I know they’re there, squirming about. 12 million of them, allegedly. Then we have to measure out 500ml of the stock into a large watering can, dilute to the top and sprinkle it on to the garden. The rose gets jammed up and stops pouring within seconds; it needs to be constantly declogged. Repeat the last step, 8 times in all.

The nematodes like to sink to the bottom of the stock. It must be constantly stirred to keep it mixed up. It’s easy to splash. Yep, straight into my eye. There’s much frenzied rinsing and a pair of contact lenses thrown into the bin. It’s possible to have a very uncomfortable night in such circumstances, I can tell you. Imagining them still swimming around, trying to find a way in…

And, after all the fuss, did it work? No. I waited the required five days before planting out more beans only for the whole lot to go the same way as the last. Those wretched molluscs were just too numerous and too deeply entrenched. More nematodes ordered. Double strength. Elegantly kitted out with Mike’s decorating goggles I had to go through the whole bloomin’ performance again.


So this year there will be no messing about. Oooh no. First, I have signed up to a nematode supply contract. A packet will be delivered every six weeks, starting at the end of March before the slugs have a chance to breed. Better yet, I’ve found a gadget that attaches to the end of a hose and does all that diluting and fussing in 5 minutes flat.

As the man on the video said.. “simple”.


2017-11-09T18:25:33+00:00February 2nd, 2013|Tags: |


  1. Sue February 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    I’m afraid I regard slugs as proof that there is no god.

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      It does make you wonder doesn’t it.

  2. elaine February 2, 2013 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Hells bells and buckets of blood – they were certainly a nuisance last year – let’s hope your plan of action works.

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      I shall be keeping a slug count Elaine.

  3. Anny February 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    After many bitter years, I decided not to plant any more bedding plants, or indeed anything green and vaguely juicy – it’s so much easier to stand in the garden and feed £5 notes direct to the slugs. Good luck and may the force be with you.

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Why don’t slugs like weeds?

  4. John February 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    I hate em
    Pieces of snot with attitude

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      Perfectly put!

  5. Simone February 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    Maybe they all got drowned in last year’s floods?!!! How horrible for you splashing nematodes in your eye! Does your nematode slug prevention get rid of snails too? I find snails to be an even bigger problem!

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      If they did all get drowned, Simone, I have just purchased 36 million nematodes unnecessarily..
      Apparently they don’t work so well for snails. This is because they attack the slugs underground. Snails stay on the surface.

  6. Denise February 2, 2013 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Chickens! They are the answer, Jessica. Slugs are like sushi to chickens. Ooooh, I can’t bear slugs. Do they actually have a purpose, other than to give one the heebie-jeebies?

    Denise at Much Malarkey Manor

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm - Reply

      Hi Denise. Welcome to rusty duck!!
      Now there’s an idea. If they have a purpose I really don’t know what it could be.
      Last year we were just overrun (overslithered?) with slugs, I must have picked off hundreds of the damn things, and threw them into the river.

      • shaz February 3, 2013 at 9:05 am - Reply

        or ducks , i am considering a couple of call ducks in the flower garden

        • Jessica February 3, 2013 at 11:03 am - Reply

          That sounds nice too.. very nice. As long as they don’t peck the flowers!

  7. Anne February 2, 2013 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    I hate loathe and detest slugs , but not because they eat my hostas …. I just have an absolute horror of the nasty things. Accidently touching one when gardening can bring on full blown hysteria!!

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      I’d love to have hostas. But they turn into net curtains, every one.
      I know what you mean, even touching somewhere that they’ve been..

  8. haggiz February 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Do you have a pond in the garden? We do get loads of slugs but we have quite a few toads and frogs because of the pond which help keep them down x

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm - Reply

      Yes, the remains of a large pond but, like much else, it is in need of total renovation. Water doesn’t stay in it very long. We do have quite a few frogs and toads, presumably because of the river, but nowhere near enough!

  9. Em February 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm - Reply

    I gave up the hostas years ago too. Makes me wonder how they ever evolved in the first place. Our freezer is normally bursting with runner beans; enough to see us through the year but, like you, we had ZERO last year. Will be interested in your results…..x

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm - Reply

      Perhaps hostas are the reason slugs evolved teeth!
      I will keep you updated.

  10. rachel February 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    We’re getting ready too, but for fleas. Last year was a nightmare……

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      Oh lord… at least slugs can’t fly.

  11. Rosie February 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm - Reply

    There are so many things that we don’t grow in the garden because of slugs, they seem to love all the plants I’d love to grow and they spoilt the lupins last summer plus loads of veg. I think last year we just gave up and let them take over, slugs one us nil! Those nematodes sound quite tricky:)

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      They are tricky. They need to be kept moist once in the soil too – no problem last year! – but if it doesn’t rain, lots of extra watering. Labour intensive yes, but if they work worth it!

  12. Cumbrian February 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    As the man on the video said, “simple”.
    I’ve heard that before!!

    Only 3 things I know that will eat slugs are frogs, hedgehogs and ducks. Unfortunately frogs and hedgehogs are dirricult to attract, and ducks sometimes cause more mess and damage than slugs.

    Have you tried “slug pubs”?
    Just an empty youghurt pot buried at ground level, coverd with a piece of slate or something (propped up on a pebble to let them in) and half filled with beer (slops are OK). Cheap, easy and eco-friendly.
    They really work, I’ve had snails in them as well, empty daily until the catch drops.

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm - Reply

      Re “simple”, I’m fully expecting a follow up post, things are rarely what it says on the tin!
      I’ve been looking at slug pubs as well and will give them a try. What a way to go, eh?

  13. Vera February 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Our chickens seem to sort our slugs out, but then we run the risk of having the seeds eaten as well, plus any surviving seedlings being scratched out of the soil and therefore unearthed. Good luck with nematodes. Will follow this project with interest!

    • Jessica February 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks Vera, I’ll let you know.

  14. BadPenny February 3, 2013 at 9:29 am - Reply

    I sometimes perform a futile slug & snail patrol in my garden at dusk – flinging them back into the field behind the house with a trowl, yelling ” Go away you Buggers !” Obviously they come back with renewed vigour.
    I planted no veggies last year. I buy a water in killer which only lasts a few days.

    Years ago the little boy next door told me he was making slugs fizz… he was putting them on trays of salt then watching them go fizz !!!
    It was macarbre considering he came from a devout Christian family ……. I suppose it equated with my brothers burning flies with a magifying glass !!!
    I did put our trays of beer one year with bgreat success then wondered if I fed the dead slugs to the chickens would I have a hen party on my hands !!! ??? ( I didn’t do it ! )

    Good luck x

    • Jessica February 3, 2013 at 11:13 am - Reply

      It’s the ones in the greenhouse that drive me particularly mad. I know they are there because I see slime trails and nibbled leaves, but there are too many places for them to hide. It’s very satisfying to find one and lob it into the river.
      You would have had very happy chickens 🙂

  15. BadPenny February 3, 2013 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    I remember seeing a nature programme years ago about monkeys eating fermented fruit. They were sozzled !

    I rekoned killing the slugs in beer had to be better than slug pellets – inebriated slugs who drifted into a forever sleep. Must admit I emptied the bloated slugs & left over beer into the field. It probably made good fertilizer !

    • Jessica February 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm - Reply

      I can just imagine the trail of inebriation going up the food chain – pheasants, thrushes, badgers, foxes… all left with a smile on their face!

  16. young at heart February 3, 2013 at 4:23 pm - Reply


    • Jessica February 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      Devon is slug heaven. Mild and wet. Why didn’t anyone tell me?

  17. elizabethm February 3, 2013 at 6:31 pm - Reply

    I have never found anything that works really well for slugs. Our chickens don’t eat them. None of the so called deterrents deters. Just about the only thing that helps is growing beans and things in the greenhouse until they are a fair size and growing enough to be able to regard some as sacrificial. I will be fascinated to know how you fare with nematodes. Didn’t seem to make any difference up here but I might just not have been committed enough!

    • Jessica February 3, 2013 at 7:59 pm - Reply

      Last summer I consulted the experts at RHS Rosemoor and this is what they do:
      1. Nematodes, as per 6 week programme
      2. Grow everything to a fair size in the greenhouse before planting out (as you suggest)
      3. The new generation of slug pellets, more wildlife friendly apparently. Slugs excepted, obviously.
      So this is my plan for this year.
      Plus, keep fingers crossed and pray for less rain.

  18. CherryPie February 3, 2013 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    Hopefully that will see them off. We used to have enormous black one in our garden, the appeared at the top of the garden in an evening and crawled their way down the lawn to the patio!

    • Jessica February 3, 2013 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      The black ones are the pits Cherie.

      • CherryPie February 3, 2013 at 10:42 pm - Reply

        We used to pick them up by hand (with the aid of a paper towel) and put them in a glass jar and seal them in with the lid and throw it in the dustbin!

        Rather cruel on our part…

        • Jessica February 3, 2013 at 11:31 pm - Reply

          Perhaps no worse than me lobbing them in the river. If they weren’t such voracious eaters I’d be happy to grow a few extra plants and share….

  19. Sarah February 3, 2013 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Hello! I don’t know how I just came across your blog … love when that happens and I find one I really like…and I am tickled to death to have found you. I just spent most of the afternoon reading through all your older posts and have had a ball doing so. You write so well, just like you were sitting next to me and telling me the tales of your day. I can’t wait to read more ….. xo


    • Jessica February 3, 2013 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Sarah, welcome to rusty duck and thank you for your kind comments!

  20. Judith February 3, 2013 at 9:01 pm - Reply

    It does feel as if the annual battle is about to commence. What with the slugs, snails, pigeons and mice….I am going for manageable control rather than complete destruction this year, using beer traps and our new stealth weapons-chickens. The chucks arrive in March, the beer traps sooner! Good luck with the nematodes and let us know how it goes.

    • Jessica February 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm - Reply

      Judith, we should compare notes. I’ll be interested to read how you get on too.

  21. Viv February 3, 2013 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Black Polythene – they like to snuggle up under it – I should know because nearly the whole of our seaside garden is covered in a huge black polythene silage sheet at the moment and under it is a whole colony of them (not sure what the collective term for slugs is…a sluggle of slugs perhaps??) – but it does mean you can get them all at once and you don’t have to go looking for them! Best of luck with the planned attack. Shame the mice don’t eat the slugs. x

    • Jessica February 4, 2013 at 12:14 am - Reply

      So the trick then is to get my neighbour to cover his garden with black plastic and all the slugs go there?

      • Viv February 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm - Reply

        You got it!!!

        • Jessica February 4, 2013 at 8:04 pm - Reply


  22. Anne February 4, 2013 at 9:24 am - Reply

    I must admit that I can’t walk by a slug without stamping on it. We live in a much drier part of the country than you but still have problems with the blighters. Just found your blog and love your photos.

    • Jessica February 4, 2013 at 10:43 am - Reply

      Hi Anne and welcome to rusty duck!
      It seems to have been wet everywhere this last year. I fear slug domination if this carries on..

  23. Sue February 4, 2013 at 10:55 am - Reply

    There were that many slugs last year my chickens stopped eating them, and anyway they don’t seem to like the black ones very much (I wonder what flavour they are). Hopefully the Geese will eat them this year…….I must have a word with them.

    Good luck with your friendly little Nematodes. I have a secret stash of slug pellets waiting for the little blighters this year. I WANT VEGGIES!!

    • Jessica February 4, 2013 at 11:21 am - Reply

      Liquorice? I’ll be interested to hear how the geese like the slugs.

  24. Sue February 4, 2013 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Liquorice Slugs – now there’s a thought!!

    There’s an award for you over at mine 🙂

    Sue xx

    • Jessica February 4, 2013 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      Oh Sue, thank you x

  25. Sarah February 6, 2013 at 9:25 am - Reply

    I will be interested to see if this works well for you this year. The slugs and snails love Dorset too! We have tried everything too I have resorted to collecting them some days last summer the numbers collected were over 100!
    Sarah x

    • Jessica February 6, 2013 at 9:59 am - Reply

      I know. And still there’s more the next night! Last year was particularly bad. If it is global warming, slugs are going to be loving it!

  26. steph February 7, 2013 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    a SLUG post!!! I love love love it!!! We were vacationing in the Pacific Northwest with some friends, and for some reason, my husband and my friend had a yucky thing going over the banana slugs (they are quite large and slimey and ugly)—and have continued sending each other slug ‘things’. (We’ve been painting….I just relocated the ‘slug collection’ today!!!) among other things, we own a slug candle holder, 2 slug books, an antique slug print, assorted slugs (one of which peeks over the door jam); i failed to keep the slug jelly or the can of slug soup. Hope you have luck dealing with your critters!!!

    • Jessica February 8, 2013 at 12:08 am - Reply

      Hi Steph! If ever you want some real live English ones let me know – have several, can ship…!! Jx

  27. ropcorn February 8, 2013 at 12:10 pm - Reply

    I don’t like to harm any living things either, but when my balcony became inhabited by lots of wasps in lots of little hives I finally had no choice but to call the exterminator. I felt awful afterwards!! 🙁 Hopefully they will leave my balcony alone this year.

    Good luck with the slugs.

    • Jessica February 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm - Reply

      I know just how you feel. But you need to be able to use your balcony too!
      I wonder if there is any sort of spray that you can get which would deter them from nesting?

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