Gastropods

My relationship with slugs and snails is a simple one; they vex me greatly so I kill them.

I read somewhere, probably Twitter, that this year was going to be a bad one for slugs and snails because it had been such a mild winter. That is to say, it was going to be a bad year for gardeners because there were going to be hordes of slugs and snails about. I suspect that in Cornwall that is the situation most years, though this year is as bad as I remember. My preferred method is to go out at dusk and dawn with secateurs and chop them in half. This year I have resorted to pellets on the plants that were being hit hardest.

There have been things that I have realised are missing after the winter that have been grazed at ground level as fast as they’ve grown. One Aster I have dug up and potted in an attempt to save it. I think that without protection I would completely lose as many as a third of the plants I grow. Asters, Dahlias, Heleniums, Epimediums, Disporums, Diporopsis; all would this year have failed to keep pace with being eaten and would have been lost.

Some things are seldom if ever touched, like Fuchsias. Some come up fine but after two or three months start to get munched. Bluebells, Lysichiton and Lamium orvala flowered and set seed then were munched to a skeleton or less. Hostas I find usually get to full size before the beasties appear to notice them. This year they haven’t made it that far.

Aquilegia seedlings, which I would be happy to have assistance in thinning out, are untouched, as are welsh poppies and foxgloves.

I am averse to bare ground so there is no shortage of hiding places for the enemy. They take full advantage and launch their attacks on the nearest suitable plant before disappearing back into hiding.

I don’t want to give in and stop growing the plants that are worst affected. For one I’d feel like a quitter and for another it would leave my plant palette very depleted. I don’t like using chemicals and do so very sparingly, but for all the non chemical methods advocated there is scant firm evidence that they are effective. That I have so many in spite of using pellets suggests that resistance to chemicals may be building up. I haven’t tried nematodes, I suppose I should, though the cost could be considerable.

One thing is certain, I am not going to learn to love them.

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