Protecting your Plants from Slugs and Snails

For many gardeners, the slug and snail population seemed to explode in 2016, with many fraught and distressed gardeners asking for my advice on the best way to protect their plants from slugs and snails.  I am strongly opposed to slug pellets.  I wouldn’t wish to kill any of the slugs or snails in my garden as I believe a healthy eco system is important.

Snail shells are very beautiful. I don’t kill any of the slugs or snails in my garden.

I decided to trial a number of natural remedies, none of which would kill the slugs or snails they encountered, but instead would hopefully deter the molluscs from eating the plant they were protecting.  I ran my trial for a number of weeks at a time, repeating the same trial every few weeks throughout the spring and summer.  I trialled the following natural remedies: ash, garlic granules, garlic wash, eggshells, human hair, sawdust, sharp grit, sand, and soot, with lettuces as my trial plant.  I also included a ‘control’ plant in each trial, which received no protection whatsoever from slugs or snails.

A slug happily eating one of the lettuces during my 2016 Slug and Snail Trial.

The remedies were used as a barrier around the plant they were protecting; I sprinkled a circular band of each remedy onto the soil around each plant, except in the case of the garlic wash, which was watered onto the lettuces it was protecting.

Here are the results from my 2016 Slug and Snail Trial.

Three of my slug and snail deterrents provided a 100% secure plant protection, with not one plant grown within their barrier receiving as much as a nibble throughout the spring and summer, these fantastic slug and snail deterrents were ash, sawdust, and soot.

A brown garden snail.

In second place, were the barriers created with human hair and sand, where 75% of the lettuce plants survived intact.  Eggshells were slightly less effective with 67% of the lettuce plants surviving.  Garlic granules were in fourth place, protecting 58% of their lettuce plants.  In fifth place, was the ‘control’ lettuce, which received no protection, 50% of these lettuces survived.  In sixth place were sharp grit and garlic wash, 42% of the lettuce plants they were protecting survived.

Here is another pretty white-lipped snail, it’s scientific name is Cepaea hortensis.

I hope these results will help you to protect any special plants or seedlings from slugs and snails this year.  I simply sprinkled a barrier of the ash, sawdust, and soot onto the soil around each of my plants.  Naturally the barrier will need to be reapplied every week or two, or more frequently in adverse weather conditions, but happily I can report that the ash, sawdust and soot lasted the longest before a repeat application was required, as well as being the most effective plant protectors in my trial.

A slug happily eating one of my lettuces during my 2016 Slug and Snail Trial.

This is a pretty white-lipped snail, it’s scientific name is Cepaea hortensis.

March gardening ideas

Here are some more ideas of what you could do in the garden during March:

If you’ve got an old, and maybe rather neglected, Buddleja davidii specimen, then start to rejuvenate your plant now by removing any old dead wood and cutting it back hard.  If you don’t prune, your Buddleja will still flower, but the plant will be much taller and it will look rather tatty too.  So get your loppers out and maybe a saw as well!

Ornamental grasses and roses also need pruning this month.  Remove any old dead leaves still attached to your rose plants, as well as any rose leaves that are lurking around in the soil.  Then feed your roses with a specially designed rose feed, and mulch with compost or well-rotted manure.

Prune group three clematis now: these clematis flower in late summer on this season’s growth. Cut back the old stems to the lowest healthy pair of buds about 15-30cm (6in-1ft) above soil level.

This article was first published in the March 2017 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.

Other articles that may interest you…………..

To read about daffodils, please click here.

For information about how you can help hedgehogs, please click here.

For information about using daffodils as cut flowers, please click here.

To read the results of my 2016 Peat Free Compost Trial, please click here.

For a calendar of 2017 Specialist Plant Fairs, Festivals, Sales, and Swaps, please click here.

To read about winter flowering plants, please click here.

For information on beautiful gardens, with large collections of daffodils, to visit and daffodil events to attend in 2017, please click here.

For the dates and details of 2017 Daffodil Shows and Competitions, please click here.

To find out about the top twenty shortlisted plants, including the finalists and winner of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show Plant of the Year Competition, please click here.

To find out about the Festival of Roses at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2016, and see the winner of the Rose of the Year Competition, please click here.

For information on how you can save money gardening, please click here.

To read the first part of my miniature orchid trial, please click here.

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