Whilst in Somerset back in 2009 meeting the organisers of the Biggest Vegetable Championship, at the Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet, I called in on local garden celebrity Katherine Crouch.
For those who don’t know Katherine she was awarded the title BBC Gardeners’ World – Gardener of the Decade in 2009. That visit was spent on Katherine’s veg patch. Apart from a super little tip to plant radish seeds as markers with slow germinating seeds, discussion turned to the inevitable question of slugs. Now Katherine is also a mine of useful trivia. Evidently the Slug population following two wet summers is now well over 15 billion. What’s more slugs can eat their way through twice their body weight each day, which if Katherine’s right adds up to these slimy gastropods consuming some 750,000 tonnes of tasty young plant material every night – an awful lot of cabbages.
The conversation moved on to effective means of control. We discussed beer traps and grapefruit. Evidently half a grapefruit left in the garden is a slug’s favourite dish. They hate the smell of pelargonium’s, salt causes fatal dehydration, ammonia acts like nerve gas and they literally get dead drunk if you leave a saucer of beer in an area of high activity. But if you want a real slug destruction machine then the best repellent by far is a few Muscovy Ducks – those big blackish-brown ducks with great red crops. Having seen the mess that ducks make, I’d rather have the slugs.
Every year, we have countless discussions with customers at shows around the country. It’s the number one question customers ask. Well, you can try slug pellets; some people get upset at their chemical nature. You can try various cocoa shells and grit. But if you really want to get rid of the blighters then an early treatment with a nematode treatment, such as Nemaslug Slug Killer is the answer. It’s harmless to humans but truly deadly to slugs.