Due to the particularly mild winter we’ve had, we seem to have a lot more slugs and snails this year. Our mollusc friends didn’t go to hibernate in a nunnery, like they normally would, and instead have while-awayed the darker months smoking Galloises and playing Serge Gainsbourg’s “Je T’aime”, seemingly on a loop.
In spring, a young slug’s thoughts shift to its stomach. In a previous post I mentioned that I used nematodes in the garden. When watered in en masse, these naturally occurring parasites linger in the soil and get to work on the slug’s nervous system, multiply in the dead slug, whose corpse then gets eaten by other slugs. Charmant!
Used at the beginning of the year, I’ve found nematodes do help keep the slug population in check. But there are certain young plants that seem to be magnets for slugs and, once damaged, struggle to recover if at all. (eg Brassicas, courgettes, Hostas, young peas). For these I have something else up my sleeve, copper Slug Rings. Copper gives off a very mild electric shock to slippery slugs AND snails, and disengages a one-track-mind from its torpedo-like mission.
Now, some people don’t think they work… maybe they haven’t followed the check list? Here’s what you’ve got to remember when using copper rings:
- Slugs are masters at the karma sutra, and can do the impossible to reach overhanging temptation. Choose a ring that is big enough, or join two together, so that the plants leaves are well off the surrounding ground.
- Slugs can drop in, a la Mission Impossible, from other overhanging plants or adjacent structures. Make sure there’s a suitable gap.
- Slugs already inside the slug ring’s territory when they are applied will have a lock-in binge. Have a little rummage to make sure there’s none lurking before applying the ring.
- ‘The Limbo’ is the slugs party game of choice. When positioning the ring, give it a little twist into the surrounding soil so that it is slightly buried, with no gaps.
- Check the rings regularly for infiltrators… They won’t have got far once they’re in there.
These young peas need tucking in for a few more nights…
Nothing is 100% but, used properly, I think copper Slug Rings are superbe. The only downside is the initial cost. Copper is a commodity that has rocketed in recent years, so these rings are a bit of an investment. But they do last forever. Over the last 12 years I’ve collected about 20… I just never seem to have enough… So I’ve just bought a couple more… je t’aime, je t’aime, je t’aime