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Slug control experiments

08 June 24 - by Terry Evans

Some slug control experiments at Wivey Grows

It looks like the whole of the country is plagued by slugs and snails following the mild and wet winter we’ve just had. Like most people, Wivey Grows has had most of the early plants decimated by hungry gastropods. They’ve even found their way into the wormery and seem to have munched their way into our worms!

Another issue we have at Langley House is the resident avian population. There are ducks, pheasants and pigeons aplenty so it’s not really been easy to see if damage is caused by them or the slugs. This is a picture of the kale bed a few days after planting…


… so, is that slugs or birds?

We set about a few “controlled experiments” to see what was causing the problem and, more importantly perhaps, what will keep the critters at bay. Jayne’s sunflowers have proved especially vulnerable so they seemed to be good bait for whatever’s causing the damage. So, a few sacrificial sunflowers were selected and planted out with netting over some and wool granules around them all. These wool granules have proved effective over the last few years but seem to be less so this year. Worth a go though. We also tried crushed eggshells which, to be fair, hadn’t been that great last year.

By the following Wednesday evening, though, all the sunflowers were gone – whether under netting or in the open air! It had been fairly dry over the 4 days but with rain on the Tuesday. One conclusion, though, was that we could probably acquit the ducks.

In this picture, you can see the netting that was over some of the sunflowers and where they all were, surrounded by wool granules. You can also see where the eggshell “protected” sunflowers were.


The next thing to try was putting collars around the plants. A lot of people swear by copper collars (but these would be prohibitively expensive for us) so Jayne tried some plastic cups. Amazingly, these seem to have worked a bit better and you can see that half the plants have survived (for a week anyway). In addition, some sunflowers had been planted out in toilet rolls. There, the results seem to be a bit more varied. One of them is flourishing while the other (top left) has been stripped…


It’s not particulary convenient to try to ring around every plant so, though it seems to work better than most things, rings aren’t really an answer, except for prize plants perhaps.

We’re currently trying whelk shells. (The whelks go to Korea for one of their favourite dishes of cold noodles and one big whelk - probably the least appetizing meal I had out there!) The theory is that they, like eggshells or grit, irritate the slugs as they move and they’re deterred from travelling over them. More on them next time.

Ironically, the lettuce we put out appears to be fairly untouched (thus far anyway). There were ant nests at each end of the bed when we removed the winter Mypex cover and I’m just wondering if they’ve kept slugs and snails away either over the winter or are doing so now. We have lots of other ant nests (they’ve had a good time over the winter as well!) in raised beds so I feel another experiment coming on!


What we’ve also done, like lots of people, is to delay putting plants in the ground until they’re very well established. The second batch of kale is now in bigger pots (thanks to everyone that gave us all those 6” pots back in 2022 :-) and we’re waiting a couple of weeks before they go out. The same is true for the runner beans, though those have just gone out after two earlier plantings have gone completely.

We haven’t tried nematodes or (naturally) slug pellets but we’d be interested in what you’ve tried and, hopefully, succeeded with. Pop a message on the Wivey Grows FaceBook page or drop us an e-mail at info@wiveygows.net .