Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A Slimy Problem

My gardening efforts have had mixed results over the past few weeks. Indoor efforts have been great; the chilli plants which were seeds last autumn are now sprouting lots and growing thick stems and my sweet pea hanging basket has got plants big enough to brave the outside-I hope they do as well on the wall as they've done inside so far.

One of the reasons I'm nervous about putting my sweetpeas outside is the slugs/snails which seem to have been devouring certain plants on the flower bed. Hopefully they wont get as far up the wall as the hanging basket. With my first summer of gardening I am learning first hand of the battles and enemies of all gardeners. Slugs are my biggest worry but this morning we found a local cat has chosen our flower bed as it's new toilet-a fact I wouldn't mind except it apparently involves digging up lots of soil and carefully planted seeds!

I've been told that putting pepper out on the soil discourages cats so we'll have to see if that works. If not there's not much else we can do as other people's pets are part of urban life really. The slugs however pose a bigger dilemma. The budding gardener in me wants to cover the soil in slug pellets to protect both my established plants and also my seeds but the wildlife lover and keen green part of me hates the idea.

Killing slugs doesn't seem fair. They're not damaging a vital food source, just disturbing my plan for a pretty garden. All they are doing is finding delicious foods near their home and eating it. If I could find a way of deterring them without killing them it would be great-maybe I should plant some yummy plants just for them, to attract them and move them away from the plants I want to keep. I've found some very interesting suggestions for dealing with slugs here.

On top of it not being fair to the slugs, using slug pellets harms other, more wanted, wildlife. The little balls of poison, designed for slugs, can be just as easily eaten by birds, hedgehogs (not that we're lucky enough for these) or pets (not a pleasant way to fix my cat problem). I'd much rather endure slug attacks than find one of my very few garden birds killed off by my gardening methods. I have found this advert for eco-friendly slug pellets but I'm still not convinced. So, while I make my mind up I'll just have to hope they go for my flower bed and not my precious sweetpeas. At least the chilli plants should be safe!


  1. Dig a pond in your garden. Frogs will find it. Frogs eat snails and slugs. Perfect solution.

    "dig it and they will come" :-)

  2. I would absolutely love to dig a pond. But unfortunately our small yard is covered in concrete slabs and we only have our very shallow flower bed and hanging baskets. There's no room to create anything watery that would have shallow enough sides for frogs I'm afraid. Neither do we have access for local hedgehogs which I'm sure would enjoy a tasty meal of slugs and snails.

    But one day my pond dream will be created! I just need to find a big enough garden to fill with tadpoles. Thanks for the comment, really like your blog!

  3. Shame you haven't the space for a pond, Jennifer. They are hard work to make anyway. The other alternative is to go out at night with a bucket of salted water and a torch. I bet there will be lots out now in this rain.

    Like your blog too!