I’m an eco-friendly grower – so why do I want to murder all these vile slugs? | Claire Ratinon

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It’s nan opening of summer, yet arsenic I type these words, I’m watching sheets of rainfall coming down astatine an perspective arsenic my chickens cower nether their hen house. Aside from a fewer gloriously sunny days, it feels for illustration nan rainfall hasn’t stopped since nan mediate of past autumn. While astir of my plants admit nan moisture, nan wetter than accustomed upwind has led to immoderate issues successful my veg patch.

Our dense clay ungraded is much compacted than ever and nan slugs and snails now reign, busily mowing down nan young plants I raised from seed and entrusted to nan veg beds. They came for nan lettuces first, which didn’t past their first nighttime successful nan soil. Then they came for nan brassicas – nan radishes, nan kohlrabi and nan reddish Russian kale – stripping their leaves backmost to nan scrawny mid-rib, destroying nan centre truthful location was nary chance of them increasing back. After I convinced myself that they wouldn’t spell for beardown flavours, they devoured nan coriander and dill seedlings that I’d planted, too. All nan crops that I’d hoped to beryllium harvesting by now are obscurity to beryllium seen.

It seems I’m not unsocial successful facing an overabundance of quiet molluscs this season. Every grower I’ve spoken to has lamented nan ravaging effects that slugs and snails person been having connected their hopeful legume seedlings and succulent hostas. Frustrated gardeners person been reaching retired to nan Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) successful nan hopes of an mentation and it turns retired that we’re not imagining things: a mild wintertime followed by a warm, bedewed outpouring has created “ideal conditions for molluscs”, according to Dr Hayley Jones, nan RHS’s main entomologist.

Now, I wholeheartedly judge that my plot is arsenic overmuch their location arsenic it is mine. They are an integral portion of nan balanced ecosystem, truthful it is my occupation arsenic a nature-centric nutrient grower to uphold them arsenic champion I can. Yet my affection for these plot gastropods is wholly ideological. We don’t talk honestly capable astir really utterly infuriating it tin beryllium to promote wildlife into your garden, only to witnesser nan consequent demolition of nan plants and crops that we attraction for and covet. And it astir apt doesn’t thief that I find their sliminess excessively gross to admire. Perhaps if I recovered them somewhat tiny I wouldn’t consciousness arsenic tempted to spell retired astatine night, torch successful hand, connected a mucilaginous murderous rampage.

If you’re acquainted pinch my attack to growing, you’ll cognize that I wouldn’t – couldn’t! – revert to chemic warfare erstwhile it comes to alleged pests. Yet nary of nan holistic solutions – crushed eggshells, sheep’s wool, copper portion – person kept nan slugs disconnected my plants. Beer traps are somewhat effective, but I don’t for illustration not knowing whether nan slugs tricked into drowning are happily drunk aliases horribly sad erstwhile they dice (plus nan traps are grimly stinky to empty).

So this season, I’ve taken to increasing my young plants nether protection – successful nan greenhouse aliases connected my windowsills – for longer than I would ordinarily. It gives them a chance to turn larger and much robust, successful nan dream that they tin withstand immoderate nibbling erstwhile I yet works them outside. I’m besides sowing other outpouring bulb and beetroot seeds truthful that I person plants poised to plug nan gaps pinch crops they look little willing in. Plus, I’ve seen frogs and communal lizards prancing from nan chaotic areas and into nan veg patch, giving maine dream that I’ve managed to promote nan benignant of wildlife that will support nan slug numbers manageable.

It’s besides worthy remembering that not each slugs are a threat to your plantlets. Some only eat decomposing works matter, making nutrients disposable for increasing plants. Others eat different slugs, truthful if you are inclined to dispense pinch those you do find (preferably relocating them alternatively of sidesplitting them), make judge that you’re not doing distant pinch a plot friend. In fact, retired of nan 100-plus type of slugs and snails that reside successful nan UK, only 9 of them are willing successful your plot plants. The problem is, you person to beryllium capable to carnivore to look astatine them for agelong capable to show nan difference.

In a last hopeless bid to travel to position pinch nan invertebrates that dine retired successful my veg patch, I’m trying to spot them arsenic an hold of nan friends and family that I emotion to provender from nan crops that I turn and harvest. I sow immoderate seeds for america and a fistful much for them, chalking up nan extras arsenic sustenance for my neighbourhood slimy diners. Still, I’d alternatively they didn’t travel information for dinner.

  • Claire Ratinon is an integrated nutrient grower and writer

Source theguardian