One of the joys of gardens is how the same one can vary from one year to the next, as new plants are added, & how the weather affects the size, shape & flowering of plants.
Then there are the pests, which in my experience also vary a little each year.
This year slugs have been the bane of my life. I wonder if new gardeners give up, when they experience gardening in a challenging year, just a thought?
We’ve lived here for 3 years & I thought I was getting to know the garden quite well. I learnt to my cost, in the first year that the gaps in our lovely, Victorian wall harbour slugs & snails, & just how quickly they can demolish small dahlia plants.
You see, I’d got used to a garden at our last house, with well drained soil that didn’t really attract slugs. I won’t go on, this could turn into a rant, so instead, this is what I’ve learned.
Its so satisfying to come out in the morning & find the glass jars of beer full of slugs. They need emptying & refilling every couple of days. The old jam-jars are stuck half-way down into the soil, to save beneficial insects, like ground-beetles falling in, & jars only need to be half full of beer.
So I’ve taken to wandering round the garden in the early evening with a can of cheap, supermarket lager in hand. I hadn’t realised just how cheap it is, which can’t be a good thing … except for slugs.
The raised beds have been covered with micro-netting & held in place with slabs of timber from the stash in the corner of the garden. I’ve hoarded a variety of types over the years, but for this I used small pieces of oak decking left over from a garden years ago.
Finding the right place:
Even in our small garden, plants left in some areas seem to be more vulnerable to slugs, so I’ve moved pots around to what appear to be safer places, & most of the time this has worked.
Hedge your bets:
Don’t keep all your seedlings & baby plants in the same place, that way there are reserves elsewhere if the little blighters polish off a whole tray of seedlings overnight. Sow more seeds than you think you’ll need.
Water in the morning, but not too much:
Slugs come out at night & are much happier on damp soil. More recently I’ve watered the garden if the soil has got to the stage of looking pale & dry, though small seedlings will need a little more water than more mature ones.
In any case, the water butts are empty, & I don’t want to use water unnecessarily.
Use a combination of all of the above:
Don’t wait to see if one thing works before trying something else. This is what I did at first, then realised that an all-out attack is what’s needed because as the summer rolls on, time is not on your side.
I was so tempted to use slug pellets, but instead tried the ones containing ferric sulphate & certified for organic use. Unfortunately they didn’t make any difference, though the RHS have done research which shows them as being effective, so they’d be worth trying.
I used nematodes in the second year here, but they didn’t help much either. I think this was because it didn’t rain much & the soil has to be kept damp for 2 weeks after the nematodes have been watered onto the soil.
I found nematodes very effective against vine-weevil, so don’t be put off by my experience. Maybe I didn’t apply them correctly, or left it too late?
Reasons to be cheerful:
My garden has been a challenge this year, & to stop myself from feeling down & very cross about it all, I’ve looked at the things that have worked well & made me feel happy.
The roses have been wonderful, I’ve enjoyed seeing them in the garden, picking them for inside & making up jam-jars of little arrangements to give to friends.
The herbs have been delicious, I’ve used fresh thyme, chives & mint on a daily basis.
It’s a simple strategy, but it has cheered me up.
I hope you’re enjoying your garden.