Sunday, 11 May 2014

Slugs. Solutions?

Two weeks ago field beds were striped with lines of pale green seedlings.

I sowed into a few beds that I confess I had round upped as I was too late to sort them out and cover them as per usual before the hideous rains came and came and came. I sowed others into beds that had been weeded and sown in autumn, had large crops of seedlings in waiting which then sat with standing water on them for weeks and weeks and weeks and drowned. So there was nothing in them and I just rotovated them and had to start again.

So the beds were clean to start with.

Now there are all but no seedlings out there. Literally. 90 per cent have been wiped out. Presumably it's those little slugs that have had such a joyous wet winter and damp spring.

But beds at the other end of the gardens are fine - there I weeded roughly and rotovated and I knew there would be masses of weedseed and self seeders coming up but I was late sowing and decided to sow thickly then weed later. For the last couple of weeks they have looked disastrously weedy but I finally got to them over the last couple of days and there are masses of healthy flower seedlings, and it hasn't been hard weeding out the rest.

So perhaps that's one answer, don't worry about clearing the beds too carefully, then even if there is a slug problem there's plenty of other vegetation for the slugs to eat and plenty of chance for the seeds you want to come through.

I use municipal compost round perennials such as echinacea and delphiniums as it's gritty enough to deter all but the more determined sluggy visitors.  But can't use that for seed sowing. And besides, I think all the slugs in the field are those little tiny soil dwelling ones, not the big ones that wander over the surface.

The next question is, how to replace the earlier field sowing. I think timing is going to be everything as apparently it's going to get hot again soon and send the little blighters down deep, but needs to be damp enough for germination first.

Sometimes I wish for more raised beds. They raise seedlings slug free.

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