Slug watch

Stay one step ahead of slugs and snails by protecting susceptible plants now. Herbaceous plants that are starting to regrow are now extremely vulnerable. As the new tender, juicy leaves push through the soil, you can guarantee the slugs and snails will be first on the scene! It is important to protect plants at this stage or they will be eaten to nothing and never get a chance to recover. There are a number of ways you can keep the pests at bay without using slug pellets, provided you're not too squeamish.

Ring emerging plants with material that is uncomfortable for them to cross such as sharp grit or broken egg shells can also work. Make sure that the collar is at least 5cm (2in) deep. Cover young and budding plants with a protective plastic collar, a see-through plastic drinks bottle cut in half is ideal. It can be removed once the plant has got big enough to withstand an attack. Plants in pots can be protected by greasing the rim with Vaseline mixed with salt. As they climb up the side of the pot they take up the salt which draws all the liquid out of them. A messy but effective method. Buried jars of beer are irresistible to slugs and snails so they leave plants alone and head for the beer, they fall in, can't escape and drown. Slugs love to eat bran and will happily gorge themselves on it. The bran then swells in their stomach and they explode. Slugs and snails feed at night so you can go out with a torch and pick them off those plants most under attack you will be able to catch them because they only move at 7cm (3in) a minute - or pour salt on any that you see. If you stew the ones you have caught in water and then pour the resulting mixture around vulnerable plants it said to be quite a good deterrent.

Or, if you want to protect something special, you can always scatter a few slug pellets.

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