IT’S well known that slugs can be a bit of a pest but, from spring 2020, metaldehyde slug pellets will be banned – so here are some alternatives for dealing with them with plant pathologist and organic gardener Pippa Greenwood

  • Nematodes are natural microscopic living organisms found in UK soils, which control many common plant pests including slugs, but don’t endanger humans or wildlife. You apply by diluting the organisms in water which then attack the slug by releasing a bacteria which quickly and safely kills it.
  • Create barriers using copper tape around the rims of containers and the walls of raised beds, which act as a deterrent. Other barriers, such as cloches, can also be placed over vulnerable plants.
  • Block their path with mulch such as crushed shells. Use the shells as a surface mulch around vegetables including purple sprouting broccoli and calabrese.
  • Tempt natural predators who feed on slugs and snails into your garden, such as ground beetles, frogs, toads, hedgehogs and birds. Provide a variety of wildlife habitats and nesting boxes.

Slugs thrive in rough, lumpy ground which is poorly drained, so improving drainage and soil structure is important where these conditions occur. Adding grit can help drain heavy and compacted soil. If you rake to create a fine tilth before sowing, you’ll help to disturb slugs and their eggs, as well as helping soil to dry out on the surface, making movement more difficult for them.