Feed the slugs

I think that gardening is quite difficult. I don’t mean buying a few bedding plants and popping them in a patio pot. I mean ‘proper’ gardening; growing from seeds and cuttings and making a garden. So much can thwart our efforts and while it is part of the ‘job’ that every season is different, it can also make it a challenge.

‘Wildlife’ has slowly invaded the gardener’s world and is now threatening to make gardening impossible. I feel under attack. I have always been of the opinion that making a garden was ‘harnessing’ nature and I have no problem with loosening that grip a bit.

I like most plants and there is no way that my garden will become a monoculture. My garden will always be a haven for wildlife, whether I plan it or not. I want my garden to buzz with bees, I want swallows screeching overhead and I want frogs to populate my ponds. I have planted low shrubs for cover around one of the ponds to help the frogs and the larger pond is frequented by swallows drinking on the wing. I have long grass for beetIes and butterfly larvae, have planted buckthorn in the hedge for brimstone butterfly larvae and my raised beds are being colonised by mining bees. When I arrived here the site was a field of grass, like the surrounding field with no diversity – just grass – a few docks but not even a buttercup. I feel I am doing my bit.

I don’t like slugs but I will accept that, in the wild, they eat dead and decaying matter and break down organic matter.

What gets my goat is ‘gurus’ on TV with no gardening experience saying that anyone can help wildlife – all you need to do is buy a lavender (grown under glass – possibly with fossil fuels, in The Netherlands, shipped hundreds of miles), plant it in a plastic pot (probably made in China), in some awful recycled compost and then watch the butterflies appear. How wonderful – except that you done nothing to actually ‘make’ the butterflies – nothing!

But what has provoked this outburst is being sent a press release about slugs. On April 1 (yes really), it became illegal to sell or use metaldehyde-based slug pellets in the UK. The press release actually said that slug pellets were banned which is inaccurate since you can use those based on Ferric phosphate. But what really maddened me was the advice, after describing the good that slugs do, that I should plant sacrificial plants for the slugs and then they would leave the ones I want alone. REALLY??

Well nature doesn’t work like that. Apart from the madness of trying to get slugs to eat some plants and not others, a slug doesn’t think ahead – I wish it would. If the slugs sat there and thought ‘if I wait a few weeks there will be lots more leaves and the marigolds will flower too, so the bees can have nectar as well so I won’t eat these tender seedlings now’ I would be very happy. That doesn’t happen. After all, like the scorpion and the fox; ‘It’s in my nature!’

Take the rabbits that almost killed my apple trees by eating the bark the first winter. Did they eat just some? No, they nibbled them all. Do blackbirds take some strawberries and leave me some? No, they peck at them all and never eat them all.

So I am supposed to think that I can train my slugs to eat some plants that I grow for them and leave the rest for me? Who are you kidding?

I am not against the idea of putting down some lettuce leaves and trapping the blighters but then you have to get rid of them and isn’t stamping on them reducing the population of these slimy grazers that are now seemingly beneficial. If I am supposed to embrace slugs and feed them then I just give up!

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9 Comments on “Feed the slugs”

  1. Dee
    April 13, 2022 at 8:22 am #

    😂🤣 so true! 🤭

  2. thelonggardenpath
    April 13, 2022 at 9:49 am #

    I totally agree! While it’s all very well in principle, and admirable to try, there often comes a time when enough is enough. After all plants aren’t that cheap – too expensive to be slug dinner!

    • thebikinggardener
      April 13, 2022 at 11:17 am #

      Thank you for your comments and support. Have a good Easter and let’s hope for good weather – for us and the slugs.

  3. Laura Bloomsbury
    April 13, 2022 at 10:56 am #

    a beautifully written common-sense view of slugs and their impact – and an indictment against all the media experts who are free with their advice because most of it is not worth having! Personally I hate killing slugs preferring deterrents which do not always deter (and I wish the song thrush would be more of a glutton) but it’s either them or the lettuce!

    • thebikinggardener
      April 13, 2022 at 11:19 am #

      Thank you for commenting. I wish the birds would do what they are supposed to as well!

  4. Paddy Tobin
    April 13, 2022 at 1:50 pm #

    Well said!

  5. Mitzy Bricker
    April 13, 2022 at 3:50 pm #

    Makes one wonder just who is writing the current gardening news, yes? Slugs are nasty pests. I love watching our chickens gobble them up!

    Blue Rock Horses Frederick County, Virginia bluerockhorses.com

  6. Summercloud
    April 26, 2022 at 5:26 pm #

    I sometimes wish I had as much rain as you but then I would also have your slugs! It sounds like such a struggle. Do you ever read Garden Rant? There were some rants recently about garden “advice” that I think you’d enjoy.

    • thebikinggardener
      April 26, 2022 at 5:38 pm #

      Oddly, it has been a very dry April and we could do with some rain. I didn’t know Garden Rant but just looked and think I will be spending a lot of time on there! Thank you.

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