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How to deter slugs from seedlings

vegetable seedlings and slugs

Snapdragon Online got it's name because of slugs.

Back in 2001, with baby strapped to my front, I started a cut flower business, growing flowers in my garden and selling them at a Farmer's Market in Glasgow.

My then garden was very damp, the soil was heavy clay and surrounded by long grass. Not surprisingly there were a lot of slugs.

I planted out my rows of carefully nurtured seedlings - cornflowers, marigolds, poppies, cosmos, nigella, snapdragons. Within 2 days the slugs had eaten everything but the snapdragons.

Slugs don't like snapdragons.

My market stall had a lot of snapdragons on it that year and that inspired me to name my business.

Since then I have become a lot better at deterring surface eating slugs without resorting to pellets. Here are my main techniques.

All depend on knowing where slugs live in your garden - the ones that are most likely to munch your seedlings will be hiding somewhere damp during the day (long grass, down the edges of raised beds, at the base of box hedges, under the edges of landscaping fabric)

BEER TRAPS

Slugs love beer, any beer, even the terrible beer that people bring to parties, even failed home-brew. Save small jars or pots (single yoghurt pots work fine) and bury them up to their necks between where the slugs are likely to be living and your plants. The idea is to waylay (and drown) them before they get to your plants. Fill up the jars with beer and leave.

The only disadvantage with this is that, in heavy rain, the beer can be diluted to the point that it is no longer attractive to slugs and you have to tip out the water and start again.

WEETABIX

The only thing better than beer in the mind of a slug is cereal. They can't resist it. Rather than using piles of bran which can get messy, I use cheap own brand weetabix type cereal and again place it between the slugs and the crops.

It works in two ways, primarily as a distraction from seedlings (surround seedlings with a fence of weetabix if you have to leave them and go away for a few days), but also in conjunction with the next technique.

PICKING

This is for the hunter gatherer - get a torch, go out at night and collect all the slugs up and dispose of them. It is messy but also strangely meditative.

This is the way that I dealt with slugs in my first garden - logging the numbers in a weird serial killery garden notebook. I stopped counting when I got past 4000.

It is less messy if you combine with the weetabix technique. Simply leave the weetabix for 3 days and then go out at night and collect up all the weetabix that should by now be covered with feasting slugs.

DUCKS

Ducks are the best slug control that there is - they spend their days looking for slugs under stones, down the sides of paths. The only downside is that they tend to turn your vegetable patch into muddy slime in the process. Upside - eggs.

I would love to hear your techniques for controlling slugs - please leave a comment if you have any tips to pass on.

Tags: gardening

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Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
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As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
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Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
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It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
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Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
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My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
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Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
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As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
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This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
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This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
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I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
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Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
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This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
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The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
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Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
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That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
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What are you looking forward to doing today?
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About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here

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