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Wildlife Gardening - Natural Slug Control

Discussion in 'General Discussions and Lounge' started by gkd_uk, May 17, 2007.

  1. gkd_uk

    gkd_uk Guest

    Although most people think of slugs as pests, they are as necessary as the more attractive visitors to our gardens. They help to break down decaying plant matter, disperse seeds and spore and provide a very rich compost-like waste which feeds the garden. They also provide food for more welcome visitors, such as birds. While the removal of debris is not as valuable in our cultivated gardens as it in the wild, this can be used in the fight to save our prize vegetables, and vulnerable seedlings and young plants.

    Many gardening articles recommend keeping gardens scrupulously clean of debris to discourage slugs. As the wildlife gardener is encouraged to leave the garden in as natural a state as possible, some of the recommendations in this entry may contradict other advice. This entry does not discuss how to kill slugs, only how to gently discourage them from eating your prize plants, although it will discuss ways of encouraging other creatures that will hunt down and eat them. It's like the Serengeti in your garden...

    Work With Them, Not Against Them

    Slugs don't like tough leaves, they like tender morsels, which is why they always seem to eat the young plants first. They like leaves that are beginning to wilt, so if you do some weeding, leave the weeds around for a few days as the slugs will eat those first. Use local mulch as much as you can - slugs love wet leaf mulch, and are far happier staying in the damp and eating dead leaves than venturing into the open spaces in your flower beds.

    Although it is possible that this will encourage more slugs into your garden, if you have a healthy population of other creatures that eat slugs, you will be providing them with food, and there will be a balance.

    Plant lots of things that are native to your area; they will be used to the local wildlife, and will have developed ways to defend themselves from slugs. As slugs like the damp, they will be more numerous on top of the soil after it has rained, or when you have watered the garden.

    Because slugs have to produce mucus (slime) to move, they prefer not to move over anything dry, dusty, or scratchy. They need to produce so much slime to travel over gravel, sand, ash, or lime that they can exhaust themselves in dry weather, and they die. This is not a foolproof method, as they have been seen to travel over beds of broken eggshells to find a meal. However, it will act as a deterrent, especially when combined with some of the other tips in this section. They will not waste energy in this way, when there is a pile of wilting leaves that they can easily reach.

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