Slugs and snails are the last things any gardener wants in their garden or vegetable patch. However, gardening expert and Gardener’s World host Monty Don says that using slug pellets is the one thing we should avoid doing as a way to fight them off.
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Writing on his blog, he says we should ‘avoid slug pellets or any chemicals that can harm other wildlife’ when warding off slugs.
As frustrating as it may be to have tulips, lettuce or delphiniums attacked by the slimy pests, he argues that we simply shouldn’t be resorting to anything poisonous. Although they’re seen as a threat, Monty explains that slugs are actually brilliant at recycling waste vegetative matter.
As we all know, the unfortunate thing is that they ‘do not discriminate between a fallen leaf and a delicious young seedling.’ Instead of using pellets, the gardening expert suggests using a small cold frame or table for raising tender young plants.
An obvious point, but one worth mentioning is to check carefully for slugs every day to minimize the risk of them wreaking havoc. He also recommends we create an eco-friendly garden to encourage a wild range of predators.
This will scare off slugs without the need for any human intervention. Building a pond and having a variety of lengths of grass and plenty of slugs will help to encourage hedgehogs and frogs.
Liam Lapping from Flowercard points out that pellets look appetizing to cats and dogs as they look like pet food. 'Similarly, birds, hedgehogs, and other garden wildlife are also attracted to pellets even though they can be fatal to these smaller animals,' he says.
On a recent episode of Gardener’s World, Monty Don explained how he grows lettuce to keep them safe from slugs. ‘I always grow them in the same way nowadays which is to sow them in a seed tray and then trick them out into plugs,’ he says.
This gives lettuce a better chance of getting off to a good start, as slugs can often get to them just as they start to come out above the ground. ‘This all started because I found when I directly sowed the slugs and snails could devastate them just as they appeared above the ground,’ he says.
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If you love picking fresh ingredients from your garden, take a look at our piece on how to create a kitchen garden piece for what to grow next. Plus, our gardening for beginners guide is brimming with simple ideas.
If slugs are posing a real problem, raised beds and using broken up egg shells can also help fend them off. There also plenty of plants that slugs don't like, such as fern, so consider adding them into your garden.