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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)


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.


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.


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 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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When I was at University it was the time of the Poll Tax, an unpopular tax made even more unpopular by being implemented in Scotland a year before the rest of the UK - 'Thatcher's guinea pigs'.⁠⠀
It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
Coalition student groups were formed - Socialist and Feminist and Anarchist and so on - there were big meetings in the Union, debates about a name and a logo and a manifesto. I remember lots of young, middle class, white men talked at length.  I remember that very, very little got done - a bus was organised to take students to Glasgow for the protests. ⁠⠀
In the meantime, up the hill from the campus, three women (I thought of them as old at the time but I'm sure they were the age I am now) simply stood outside the auctions and asked nobody to attend.  They stood by the front doors, they explained their reasons, they prevailed.  They possibly looked randomly menacing in that way middle aged women can.⁠⠀
People calmly bought back their possessions for 50p and their debts were squared. Action, meaningful results, a recognition that the personal is political - all while the student groups still debated their slogans.⁠⠀
I've been thinking about those women a lot recently. If they were the age I think they were, they will be queuing up for their vaccines this month.
In my happy place.⁠⠀
In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
This was yesterday.  Trimming pieces of vintage velvet fabric for the Studio Club shop; alpaca socks drying in the dispatch room behind me (we now have size 8-10 in stock too); a roll @scottishlinen seconds to experiment with hogging the cutting table.⁠⠀
Bright and light and inspiring.
Starting the week with a photo from last year (simply because I lost a lot of this weekend to fatigue, so didn't take a new photo.)⁠⠀
Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
Worth a second outing.
The proposed airstream conversion is in for planning permission approval at the moment, so that we change change its use from (neglected) artist's workshop into beautiful holiday accommodation.⁠⠀
In my vision for this we get to use the paid holidaymaking element to subsidise some artist's residencies - painters, writers, musicians, makers coming here to soak up the landscape and be inspired.⁠⠀
At the moment though I'm still at the stage of answering environmental health questions about quite how loud I am in my Studio and how we will light the path to the compost loo.
Yesterday my elder daughter, who lives in London, messaged me to say that our local DPD driver Slav was being given an award by for his outstanding service. 

It was because of the hundreds of messages that they had been sent commenting on his helpfulness, incredible good cheer, and parcel based problem solving.⁠⠀

Slav has been an important part of my lockdown life here. ⁠⠀
When roads look like this, good delivery drivers are a vital (and hopefully appreciated) part of life.⁠⠀
As my younger daughter chimed in “Go Slav!
This photo is from last week - but I see through the gloom that it has snowed overnight .⁠⠀
This part of the garden is outside our bedroom, the beech hedge borders the road, it used to be a drive when our bedroom was a garage.⁠⠀
Now it has a birch tree (symbolic for me of my miscarried babies, as I had to leave their actual birch trees behind when we moved here) surrounded by lots of box grown from small plants and cuttings.⁠⠀
We buried Jasmine, my scruffy miniature schnauzer, here in the summer, so in some ways it is becoming a garden for sitting on the bench and remembering and watching the birds.  I shall ask my ever generous  friend Nadja for some snowdrops to plant in the grass.⁠⠀
In my mind, eventually, the box balls will become like the ones on the front of @arnemaynardgardendesign book Garden Design Details - but this year they remain unclipped. ⁠⠀
I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
The pattern is the 'After the Rain' sweater by @heidikdesigns but with random stripes as I wasn't sure how much of each colour I had. #aftertherainsweater

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