Protecting your plants from Slugs and Snails
For many gardeners, the slug and snail population seemed to explode last year, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nematodes are a natural predator of snails and slugs. To find out more about using nematodes as a biological control, a natural method for controlling slugs and snails, please click here.
March gardening ideas
Here are some 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.
You may be interested in some of the other trials I have conducted.
Compost Trial Reports
To see all of my Compost Trials, please click here.
To read advice on planting up containers, please click here.
Scented Daffodil Trial Reports
To see the results of my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial, please click here.
To read the results of my 2018 Scented Daffodil Container Trial, please click here.
To read the results of my 2017 Scented Daffodil Trial, please click here.
Sweet Pea Trial Reports
To read the results of my 2017 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.
To read the results of my 2016 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.
To read the results of my 2015 Sweet Pea Trial, please click here.
Terrarium, Vivarium, and Orchidarium Trials
To see how my Orchidarium was created, please click here.
To see the design of my Rainforest Terrarium, please click here.
To read the first part of my White Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.
To read the first part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.
To read the first part of my Miniature Orchid BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial, please click here.
To see a planting list of ferns, orchids, and other plants that are perfectly suited to growing inside terrariums and bottle gardens, please click here.
To read about the general care I give to my orchids and terrarium plants, and the general maintenance I give to my BiOrbAir terrariums, please click here.
To read how I track the temperature, humidity, and light conditions inside my terrariums, please click here.
To read about my Trial of New Tomato Varieties, please click here.
To see all of my Vegetable Trials, please click here.
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 about winter flowering plants, 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, 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.