You see the weather for this activity is perfect. After a cool late spring, and then some weeks of dry weather, we are now into the warm balmy moist nights that will see a lot of slugs and snails move about the garden, seeking luscious tasty foliage to munch on.
Lesson learned ...
And, let me tell you, there's nothing worse than growing plants from seed, spending months caring for them through the spring frosts, cold and hail, only to have them decimated the day or two after you've finally planted them into their summer positions. Yes, I too have experienced the range of emotions involved when this catastrophe happens. I remember at one point carefully tending and studying a pot grown Delphinium, one of the first I grew, delighted with myself to bring it to life from seed collected, pricking it out, growing it on, to finally get it to flower bud stage. These were the days before social media, so I used to bore friends and neighbours to death about it. I clearly remember going to bed the night before I expected it to flower, with real anticipation of the first blooms of the year. The following morning I came down to check on it, and it was one of those moments of disbelief. Of the two flower stems that were ready to bloom, one had completely disappeared and the other had completely collapsed as it had been almost totally eaten through ...
Lesson learned! We are not the only one's interested in fresh foliage and bloom. On social media I see where people have planted items and the next morning their gone, eaten down to almost nothing. It's a common occurrence and one that is hard to mitigate against without being prepared to get into action.
Since my Delphinium disaster, I have spent many nights wandering around my flower and veg gardens, torchlight in hand, searching and seeking slugs (and snails) in order to minimise the damage that occurs. I find it very satisfying to go out and collect as many as I can and dispose of them. You can see in the picture above their very active at this time of year and easy to harvest.
I'm lucky there is a woodland area away from the house where I can dispose of them. If you throw them into a neighbours garden, or over a garden wall or fence, beware. Apparently these guys will travel a good distance to return to their grazing ground.
Of course I employ other methods of slug hunting, including using beer traps, deliberately leaving boards near plants for them to crawl under and then pick them up the following morning, use sacrificial plants that I know will be targeted so these are the first I'll search in the evening and occasionally slug pellets (particularly the organic kind where there is food crops or animals). Although there are nematodes that can be purchased and watered on to the soil, which are effective during warm weather, I am a bit slow to try them as (it was pointed out to me) we don't know what else is affected by using them. Perhaps some readers will be able to recommend some research papers that can tell us a bit more about them.
Finally, for those really precious plants, such as Hostas, it is well worth growing them in posts and using copper tape, which slugs or snails will not cross. Copper tape is available in many good garden stores and it is used around the pot to create an effective barrier. On this, I know my copper crafty dad has made a couple of copper pots recently for growing annuals. I'll check in with him to see how these are working out and maybe get a picture or two to share.
In the meantime, if you've other techniques for minimising slug and snail damage, let me know and I'd be happy to share it with others through Twitter or perhaps leave your comments here.