I’ve been a bit neglectful of my veg patch this year – although the weather wasn’t great in the summer, it allowed me to get away with doing very little in terms of watering, weeding and dealing with slugs. That’s changed now, and with cooler, slightly damp weather, albeit with little rain thus far, the slugs and snails are having a bit of a field day (so are the caterpillars, but that’s because I have so many holes in my netting now!)
I’m learning my lesson, no more neglect – I shall be very attentive over the next few weeks as a lot of my brassicas have been munched, as well as spinach, chard and beetroot. The main culprits are tiny – very, very small baby snails, and a few equally small slugs. It’s a pain to pick them all off, but I’m finding that once they are on the plants, they seem to stay there rather than retreating to the soil during the daytime, so I am now removing them all as I find them. The baby snails are awkward – their shells are very soft and hard to remove them without crushing them. I feel a bit mean, but I’ve given up trying to be gentle and am feeding most of them to my chickens now. I did a bit of research, and on average a snail lays 80 eggs. They’re also self-fertilising, so don’t necessarily need a mate in order to fertilise the eggs, so I’m thinking that that’s a lot of snail reproduction for one veg patch and feeding them to the chickens isn’t such a bad idea to keep numbers down.
In the past, I’ve found the three best methods of slug/snail control to be a combination of beer traps, Strulch (a branded straw mulch that slugs and snails don’t seem to like) and keeping my plot as tidy as possible so that they have nowhere to hide. It’s time to reinstate all these measures, I think!