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Irish garden pests, problems with slugs and snails.


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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:57 pm    Post subject: Irish garden pests, problems with slugs and snails. Reply with quote

Irish garden pests, problems with slugs and snails.
by GPI

Summer bedding plants and homegrown salad vegetables are yields all Irish gardeners look forward to in the summer months. However, this is not the case if the slugs and snails get their way.


Arion hortensis, the common garden slug. picture..................Helix aspersa, the common garden snail. picture.

What do they attack?
These greedy gastropods can ruin your freshly leaved plantings by nibbling them to a shadow of their former selves within as little as 3 days. As well as bedding plants and salad crops, your most of your soft leaved perennials such as Hosta's and the fresh shoots of certain shrubs such rose's and Hydrangeas are targets for slugs and snails.

How can we deal with these pests?
Most people's first instinct is to rush to the local garden centre and grab a pack of slug pellets, now while this product is effective if topped up regularly it does have its down points. The pellets can look quite unsightly scattered in your borders due to their bright blue colour, the reason why they have the bright blue colour is to discourage family pets from ingesting the pellets that can make the pet very ill.

There are of course more natural methods such as mulching the base of the target plants with sharp edged gravel, sand or crushed eggshells that are uncomfortable for slugs and snails to crawl across. Another natural preventative measure is to encircle your prized plantings with mounds of bran, crushed oats, or cat litter which are moisture absorbent. Slugs and snails very rarely make it past these types of barriers as it absorbs their secreted slime that they use to travel. However this being Ireland, rain is never far away, so moisture sapping barriers are good in theory but ineffective in (Irish) practise.

Management of the problem organically- other methods
Arrow 1. Avoid planting into heavy soil, which is favoured by slugs.

Arrow 2. Avoid sowing into a site bordering grass, compost heaps or piles of organic waste, as all of these provide a base from which the slugs will carry out their midnight raids.

Arrow 3. Dig over your soil once or twice before planting, this will bring slug eggs to the surface to be eaten by birds.

Arrow 4. You can try planting plant varieties offering high resistance to slug attack such as .......
* Aquilegias
* Astilbes
* Astrantias
* Crocosmia
* Euphorbias
* Ferns
* Fuchsias
* Grasses
* Hardy geraniums
* Hellebores
* Japanese anemones
* Lady's mantle
* Lavenders
* Sedums

Arrow 5. Avoid excessive watering of your plants, slug's love slithering on wet soil.

Arrow 6. Turn old wet sacks and rotten boards to your advantage, by leaving them encircling your precious plants. Arrive each morning with a smile, a wheelbarrow and a spade to gleefully scrape off the slugs from beneath these damp covers.

Homemade beer traps.
To make the slugs and snails lives more comfortable why not offer them a ready supply of beer in the form of the classic beer trap......

You will require.
1. A plastic two litre drinks bottle.
2. A sharp scissors.
3. A garden trowel.
4. Some beer.

Arrow If you wish to construct a beer trap carefully cut the bottom half off a 2 litre plastic bottle, about 6 inches will do. You can discard the top half, or reuse it as a funnel in future. Wink

Arrow Next create a jagged top to the remaining half of the bottle by cutting a series of 1 inch dips into it. Create a square battlements effect, similar to those found atop castles (see picture below).



Arrow Using your garden trowel create a 4 inch deep hole to place this trap into, somewhere quite close to the slug targeted plants

Arrow With the battlements above the ground, then backfill the soil around the sides to secure.

Arrow Half fill the trap with your beer of choice and place a flat stone or piece of slate on top of the battlements to prevent dilution by rain.

Arrow Slugs and snails have poor vision but a very keen sense of smell, which will lure them into the inescapable trap for the longest lock-in of their lives.

Arrow Dispose of the slugs and replace the beer weekly, "hic".

Arrow If you wish, you may substitute cold coffee for beer; it is just as attractive to slugs and leaves them with less of a hangover.

Any queries or comments on slugs, snails, or beer traps, please post below.

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Last edited by James Kilkelly on Sun May 17, 2009 2:32 pm; edited 6 times in total
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Bugs
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing Great article GPI . I used to have a surefire way of controling snails organically . My youngest son was 6 years old at the time and our road was not very busy with traffic . He and his pals used to gather up all the snails in the front garden and have snail races . They would deposit them in the middle of the road and wait for the inevitable , sad but true .
Cool Bugs

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Mac McDonald- O.R.G.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My wife and I have turned our chickens out in the garden from time to time. Snails, slugs and even the tobacco horn worms on the tomatoes are their favorites.
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James Kilkelly
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:36 pm    Post subject: Natural and chemical free methods of slug control Reply with quote

Both natural and chemical free methods of slug control. Laughing

I have never heard of tobacco horn worms, Mac McDonald- O.R.G., I don't think we have them here in Ireland.

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Tom
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:54 pm    Post subject: Slug beauty contest Reply with quote

I heard of a garden centre near Newmarket in England that recently held a slug beauty contest. There were two categories - the prettiest and heaviest. Gardeners took their slugs to the Garden Centre and they were weighed on small scales. The biggest slug weighed in at just under 8g (1.4 oz).

I just thought id give ye a happy slug story. Smile
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crosseyedsheep
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm having some slug problems at the moment, so far they've eaten brassica seedlings, rhubarb leaves, allium shoots and even a late daffodil. I don't want to go down the poisonous slug pellet route so I'm trying some alternative methods.

I put sharp sand (plasterers sand) around the rhubarb, I thought this would help, yesterday I found two slugs who had crossed about 5in of sand and another who was half way across, I guess the sand is like a burgler alarm, It can deter the amatures but the seasoned professionls aren't as easy to deter. Anyway, I've been collecting the offending slugs and putting them on the bird table Twisted Evil where they seem to magically disappear Laughing

I'm going to try a few beer traps next, but I'm not clear on a few things, is the purpose to drown the buggers or is it to get them as too intoxicated to head for cover? I read both explainations. I was hoping to but out something that the birds could access and empty rather than having to empty them once a day.

Quote:
My wife and I have turned our chickens out in the garden from time to time. Snails, slugs and even the tobacco horn worms on the tomatoes are their favorites.


My mother keeps some hens, however I wouldn't rush to let them into the vedgetable garden, they could do more damage than good, they love to scratch fairly large holes in bare soil with their feet. A few ducks or geese would do the trick though, or a family of hedgehogs.

I'll keep you posted on progress.

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JennyS
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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few ducks or geese could do wreck to the vegatable garden - I had Muskovy ducks and they ate all my cabbages......and lettuces.....!
Slugging by torchlight is effective, strong torch, damp evening and a bucket of salty water to drop them in.... but needs to be done fairly regularily

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
A few ducks or geese could do wreck to the vegatable garden


Hi Jenny,

That's worth knowing, I did consider getting some at some stage, We have a small stream bordering our site, I was going to widen it in one area to form a pond.

"Lamping slugs" Could be the next crase!

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2007 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They are great to have around (ducks, not slugs), far more character than hens.....
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inishindie
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi

One remedy to this annual problem would be to put in plants that slugs wont touch. Now I'm not too sure whether there are really any plants that a hungry slug wouldn't eat but they obviously favour some plants to others.



Here are a few slug resistant plants to get you started.

Ajuga-groundcover for alpine beds

Astilbe-popular herbaceous plant with attractive plumes.

Choisya-fragerent, evergreen shrub.

Poached egg plant- good groundcover, attracts hoverflies.Pinks (dianthus) flower all summer

A neighbour of mine caught on to going out at midnight with a torch to catch the slugs. He didn't want to kill them so he put them in a plastic bag and put it in the wheelie bin inside his garage for the bin men to take away. His wife's screams were heard all over the town when she went into the garage the following morning as the place was infested!

Ian

Cheers

Ian

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry To be bringing up old threads but I thought I might be able to add.
I try to garden as organically as possible but I was having a lot of trouble with slugs but I really hate slug pellets, I came across ferramol slug pellets, they are certified for organic use, made of Iron Oxide and don't do any harm to birds, pets, children and they don't seem to leave that horrible mess behind them.]

I find them very good, ecoshop.ie sell them and I think irishseedsavers sell them.

Hope this helps some of you.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main problem I see with the regular blue slug pellets is that the birds could eat the poisoned non moving slugs in the morning and get a dose of the poison. Anytime I have used them (yes I have Confused ) I have got up early and scooped away as many of the dead slugs as I can find. not the best but better than nothing I suppose.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw a recommendation on Gardeners World a while ago, which was to use Coffee Grounds. I produce a lot of coffee grounds, so I thought I would give it a go, and so far so good. Apparently the slugs hate then, so do the cats, which is good too.
One of the problems I have had in the past with slug pellets and rodenticide is the dogs eating them and needing much veterinary care as a result. All around, slug pellets seem to be becoming a bit of a mad mallet solution to garden slugs.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seen one particular dog very sick after eating blue slug pellets. Never want to see it again. Very shocking, blue foam at the mouth and all. Confused
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One problem with beer traps is that you also kill ground beetles, which, as far as I know, are beneficial to the garden. You MUST put in something like a stick to give the beetles a ramp to escape the beer when they fall in.
Check your traps and see if you are also killing anything you don't intend to!
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