[Music} If there’s one pest that gardeners hate
more than any other it’s slugs and snails. After weeks of carefully raising small plants from seed, checking their moisture levels and gradually hardening them off outside these slimy beasts can wreck it all. In this video we’ll show you the best ways to beat slugs and snails. In years gone by, the standard answer was
slug pellets but they are poisons that can cause
considerable distress for pets, wildlife and birds. They usually contain metaldehyde, which
is a pesticide and isn’t in keeping with organic
principles. More recently, products can contain ferric sulfate or ferric phosphate which is relatively nontoxic to
vertebrate animals and is often sold as suitable for organic
gardening, but there are many other ways to beat slugs and snails which don’t use
any chemicals. The barrier method works by creating a
physical barrier between the slugs and snails and your precious plants, with some
twists for added effect. A dry gritty substance such as crushed
eggshells wood ash, sand, or a commercially purchased
product can be placed around particularly
vulnerable crops. The dryness is a deterrent, as slugs and snails like wet conditions. However these will need to be replenished after periods of wet weather. A ring of copper around plants or pots gives them a slight electric shock, and
could deter them from scaling your pots. Plastic barriers are commercially
available, or placing seedlings and crops up high
can make it that little bit more difficult for them to reach, so outdoor shelving or raising pots up
off the ground can all help. Make sure there is no
foliage bridging the gap as you can guarantee slugs will find it and
bypass your defenses Slugs love beer, milk, and most sugary and
yeasty liquids, and are attracted by the smell. It’s easy
to make a beer trap – just sink a shallow pot, like an old
yogurt pot, into the ground at the edge of your crops, and fill with beer. The slugs will be attracted to the trap,
sup the beer and drown. Or, you can buy products which
work in a similar way. You’ll need to replenish the beer and empty
slug soup on a regular basis. You can also place empty upturned
grapefruit, orange, melon or coconut shells in your
garden. Leave them overnight and check them in the morning, where you’ll find slugs have gathered. You can then pick them off and compost the waste fruit skins. Slugs are most active in wet humid
weather and especially so at night, so a
nocturnal trip to the vegetable plot with your torch can deliver rich slimy pickings. Check under and around vulnerable plants like
salads and squashes, under stones and around the edges of pots,
particularly at the back out of sight. Put them in a sealed container until
morning. They can then be fed to birds or chickens, or be killed and disposed of. Slugs always go for tender seedlings in
preference to established plants so it’s a good idea to raise plants to a
healthy size in a slug-free area such as a greenhouse before planting them out in their final positions. This can be coupled with providing some young foliage or seedlings for the slugs to eat in preference. And it’s a great idea to raise spare plants so if some do get munched you can pop a
replacement straight in its place. Microscopic parasitic worms called nematodes can be purchased from garden centers or are
available via mail order. They are mixed with water and applied to the soil
with a watering can. Moist, warm soil is best, usually in the
early evening. The nematodes enter the slug’s body and
infect them with a bacteria which causes a fatal disease, usually within about two weeks. It’s widely used in organic agriculture, but it’s not effective against snails. Attracting frogs, toads, hedgehogs, ground beetles and some birds to your garden can help keep slugs under control, as
they are a natural food source for these animals so having a pond or creating suitable
habitats in your garden can all help. Slugs and snails love damp
dark patches where they can hide during the day, so keeping a tidy plot around your
vegetables can help to keep their numbers down. Rake up and compost leaves to reduce the
number of hiding places and rake over soil in spring and
autumn to expose their eggs – little groups of creamy white spheres
which will be eaten by birds or can be squashed by hand. And make sure pots are cleaned and stored in a dry place as slugs and snails love hiding amongst
them. Slugs and snails are part of the life of any
gardener, and it’s unlikely the battle will ever be won, but by combining some of these methods – and with a little patience – you can ensure you get a bumper crop with
minimal damage from these slimy creatures. [Music]