The downside of the mild winter we’ve just had is that the slugs have been even more rambunctious than usual, which means it’s been long past time to get going with the anti-slug measures.
Controlling slugs is simple. Everyone has their favourite method, from eggshells or coffee grounds to copper tape, beer traps and pellets so the way to go is to ask everyone’s advice and then do ALL of it. At once. At least round here, anyway. As well as all the other measures, I’ve actually always had pretty good success with my jars full of slug beer – if you measure success in terms of the number of slugs caught, anyway – but I do have a tendency to get neglectful with keeping the traps going. The problem is that brewing the slug beer is a bit of a pain, and every time you empty the traps you have to mix up a new batch. And if you leave the traps full of slugs for longer than a few days then the resulting macerated fermenting mess of festering mollusc remains is a bit, well, exactly as you’d imagine a macerated fermenting mess of festering mollusc remains to be. So emptying and refilling the traps slips to the bottom of the list and my plants get munched.
Fortunately, technology marches on and, perusing the latest edition of the Organic Gardening Catalogue, I discovered that our nation’s finest minds were onto the problem with extra fancy slug traps complete with slug baskets to enable the slugs to be removed and fed to the chickens without having to refill the bait. However, call me cheap but I need about eight or ten traps around the garden and I was buggered if I was going to pay £13.95 for some bits of plastic when up to now a collection of old salsa jars had done the trick. So it was time to rummage around in the shed for supplies and do some inventing:
(aren’t you patenting this? the other half asked as I took this photo.)
A couple of sawn-up plastic bottles, with holes drilled in the bottom by the other half using his power tools, completed my slug baskets. However, they weren’t entirely satisfactory because, for some reason, the manufacturers of plastic bottles haven’t thought to make them exactly the right diameter to fit snugly inside the jar of our preferred brand of salsa (I know, what were they thinking?). So I cut some flaps to try and guide the slugs up and over into the basket. The other half thought they might actually keep the slugs out, so in order to test this theory I have put out four traps, two with baskets and two without, and put them around my newly planted out baby lettuces to see which was the most effective.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, it turns out that instead of spending my afternoon inventing, what I should have been doing was checking the weather forecast and then earthing up my potatoes because, May or no May, last night we had a pretty sharp frost and the little green shoots which had just appeared got a bit nipped.
Still the frost has, at least, kept the slugs out of action for a bit…