|The (uninvited) dinner guest|
So, what can be done? I've grown all my peas, beans, courgettes and squash in modules and planted them out as small plants. They were given the added protection of a litre-sized plastic bottle as a collar and I've also heard that a good smear of Vaseline around the collar is a barrier that slugs won't cross. The collars were sunk several inches into the ground and seem to have worked although the plants are woefully behind schedule. I've also recently witnessed a friend stomping on a colony of slugs found under a plank in the veg patch; she was venting her rage at the loss of all her beans and seedlings to the slug buffet but the sludge left by their burst bodies was so revolting as to make me feel a bit ill. (And very glad it wasn't on the soles of my shoes.) There's no denying that this is effective. Ultimately though I decided to make a Sluginator - it's a wide-necked bottle of very salty water into which I've been dropping slugs as I come across them. I'm not proud of myself but it works. Luckily for me, I live next to a handy railway line where I can dispose of the corpses.
Normally I see two or three slugs in a year. This year they're out in force, slithering across the paths and pavements in groups and in broad daylight. I don't care if they do eat rotting veg, I'd like to see less of them. Not all are harmful to the garden, Defra has a rogues gallery of slugs with info. On the other hand, anyone who feels kindly enough to know more about them should head over to the Higgledy Garden, or Wellywoman's blog, for a good sluggy read.
Bugs and slugs are accepted as part and parcel of growing your own veg but, yesterday, as I sat through torrential downpour and with rain forecast for the rest of the week, I'm wondering if anyone else is finding this summer a touch apocryphal? Floods, slugs, snails, blackfly, weeds, no fruit and rotting and/or bolting veg - and, here in London, I've also had fox cubs digging up newly transplanted seedlings and pooing wherever they can get access. I hope the proper summer comes soon because, frankly, I'm finding it hard to muster my usual delight in the garden.
(*With apologies to Sidney Poitier for using the title of his excellent 1967 film for this post. I've always considered him to be rather gorgeous and in no way does he resemble a slug.)