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They look innocent enough don’t they. But what will they taste like when we come to harvest them?

That’s what I’m wondering.

 

You see…

 
 

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They’re back.

 

Should we be surprised? No not really. It’s been a cool Spring with a fair bit of rain. Suddenly they are everywhere, slip sliding around even in broad daylight. Big ones too. I have once again taken to checking the inside of my wellies before pulling them on.

 
 

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Dahlia. Oh dear.

 

Last year I spent over £40 on slug busting nematodes with less success than I’d hoped for.

So I’d decided to take a different tack. Copper rings. Copper is supposed to give molluscs a mild electric shock. Enough to make them think twice about crossing it. Well that’s the theory. Our slugs must come with built in insulation.

 
 

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Dill

You’ll have to take my word for it. It was there. Honest.

 

It’s all very well while the plants are still in their pots. I can look after them with reasonable success then. The cold frames are scattered with slug pellets. Of everything I’ve tried so far, pellets work the best. But just how safe are they when it comes to other wildlife? Even the new ‘advanced’ type? I prefer to restrict their use to protected places, like the inside of the cold frames or underneath the brassica cage, where birds and mammals tend not to go.

After a spell hardening off in the cold frames the plants move out into the open air, waiting for their turn to go into the ground. Every evening I’ll go out and peek under each and every pot. There’s guaranteed to be at least a dozen slugs under there. A quick flick with a white plastic plant label and even a mollusc can fly. My record is about twelve feet, assuming that I manage to find the gap between the trees. Not all plant labels are equal in this respect. The cheap ones are way too floppy and fail to provide the necessary thrust. Even the best ones alter with age.. then they become brittle and more liable to snap. On finding the elusive but perfect flexural strength whatever you do, just don’t let that label go! It’s a bit like you’d keep your best conker, right?

 
 

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Iris ‘Jane Phillips’

 

I digress.

So what if I were to fill the copper rings with those wool pellets? The sort that expand in the rain to form a scratchy surface that the slugs can’t stand? Surely they won’t put up with an electric shock AND an itch?

With the Iris it has seemed to work.. so far. Am I on a roll?

 
 

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Eeek..

Echinacea proved a tasty treat too far.

 

But I’m not done yet. What’s that scattered through the wool pellets, on the outside of the copper ring?

Coffee. Having one of those machines that grinds whole beans, coffee grounds are effectively ‘free’ chez rusty duck on the basis that before I discovered the alternative use we were throwing them away. Slugs, it seems, hate coffee.

It’s early days. But..

 
 

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Surviving Cosmos

Not quite 100%, though no worse than nematodes and a lot more economical.

 
 

Do you have a favourite method of slug control? If you do, please share it.

With thanks to Matt at Railway Parade (here) and Gill from Off The Edge Gardening (here) for the coffee tip!

 
 
 
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